Friday, July 29, 2016

What Ideological Role Reversal of the Parties?

Cross-posted from American Power.


Look, I'm not as hard on mainstream media flacks as a lot of conservatives, but this idea that the parties have switched places is just bizarre. The party in power is naturally going to argue everything's okey dokey, and the party out of power's going to argue the country's going to hell in a hand-basket.

And ideologically, David Horowitz argued that Hillary's agenda "neo-communist" on Twitter last night. Frankly, I was rolling my eyes at the big government laundry list she rolled out. And the argument for "change"? What a pathetic joke. It's more of the same. Big government and more "rights" for everyone, as if we never had the civil rights movement in the 1960s.

But see Karen Tumulty and Robert Costa, at WaPo, "We are witnessing a visceral shift in the way the parties speak to the country":

The visceral shift in the parties’ political narratives represents a profound break from the way they have often spoken about the country and themselves.

Going at least as far back as Reagan, Republicans have prided themselves as being the party of optimism and confidence, leading an exceptional country whose greatness was coded into its DNA.

Going back further, to Franklin D. Roosevelt, it has been the Democrats who have made common cause with the aggrieved and the left behind, who have been criticized for dwelling too much on the nation’s flaws and being squeamish about asserting power internationally.

For some Republicans, it is an unsettling juxtaposition.

“The Democrats used to be the party that said people are being taken advantage of and it’s time to settle the score. Now that’s the Republicans’ message,” said Stuart Stevens, who in 2012 was GOP nominee Mitt Romney’s chief strategist. “To let them become the optimistic party that wants to lift us up and unify America, it’s a disaster for Republicans.”

Or maybe it is smart positioning, given that parts of the country are in a prolonged funk, as evidenced by the fact that polls since 2009 have consistently shown more people believe it to be headed in the wrong direction than the right one.

That creates a challenge for those who have been running the country during that time to make a stay-the-course argument. It is compounded by voters’ historic reluctance to leave the White House in any party’s hands for more than two consecutive terms.

“You really can’t afford to paint an unrelentingly dark picture of the country. To do that is to say, in effect, that your predecessor has failed,” said William A. Galston, a Brookings Institution senior fellow who was a top adviser to Bill Clinton’s 1992 presidential campaign.

So the themes being sounded by each party reflect the natural cycle of being in and out of power.

But there are other factors at play this year that amplify what would have been happening anyway.

The Republican Party’s once-omnipotent establishment has ceded control to a vocal faction fixated on issues such as illegal immigration and their angst over the reweaving of the social fabric.

“There have been so many changes in the culture that to many Americans, it’s an unrecognizable country,” said William J. Bennett, a prominent conservative voice going back to his time in Reagan’s Cabinet...
That's not an ideological shift. There may be a difference in how the parties communicate their messages, but the Republican message is deeply conservative, concerned with destabilizing and damaging changes that the Democrats have wrought on our country. Combine that with the realism of Trump's appeals to law and order and national security, in contrast to the rainbows and unicorns of Obama's speech Wednesday night, and the differences could hardly be sharper. But again, it's not ideological. It's existential.

Read the whole thing at the link.

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