Monday, May 14, 2007

American politics in 2016

"The story boils down to this: the Democrats can't win, and the Republicans can't govern."

No kidding, eh? This tidy little distillation of American politics is part of an intriguing article I came across recently from The Atlantic Monthly's July 2005 issue. It's written in the form of a letter to the first third-party president from his campaign manager, discussing the political context of his election and how the past several decades have affected the current political scene in America. The interesting part? It's dated 2016, so it discusses some "history" which hasn't happened yet. Given that, along with the fact that it was published almost two years ago, it's uncanny how spot-on some of the analyses and predictions are. To whet your appetite:

The past fifty years have shown that the Democrats can't win the presidency except when everything goes their way. Only three Democrats have reached the White House since Lyndon Johnson decided to leave. In 1976 they ran a pious-sounding candidate against the political ghost of the disgraced Richard Nixon—and against his corporeal successor, Gerald Ford, the only unelected incumbent in American history. In 1992 they ran their most talented campaigner since FDR, and even Bill Clinton would have lost if Ross Perot had not stayed in the race and siphoned away votes from the Republicans. And in 2008 they were unexpectedly saved by the death of Fidel Castro... As for the Republicans, fifty years have shown they can't govern without breaking the bank. Starting with Richard Nixon, every Republican president has left the dollar lower, the federal budget deficit higher, the American trade position weaker, and the U.S. manufacturing work force smaller than when he took office.
When we read histories of the late 1920s, we practically want to scream, Stop! Don't buy all that stock on credit! Get out of the market before it's too late!... In retrospect, the ugly end is so obvious and inevitable. Why didn't people see it at the time? The same clearly applies to what happened in 2009... Once the run on the dollar started, everything seemed to happen at once. Two days after the Venezuelan oil shock the dollar was down by 25 percent against the yen and the yuan. Two weeks later it was down by 50 percent.

So go curl up with some tea and read it! It's worth the length.

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