Since John McCain's presidential campaign collapsed in the wake of the Sept. 15 economic meltdown, it might be time to consider what the political chatter will be following next month's general election.
I am not complacent. I know there are some two weeks remaining until the election. However, it seems to me that McCain has exhausted any chance he may have had of winning.
To my mind, nothing short of massive, wholesale corruption of the voting systems (plural, as each state has its own system in accordance with the U. S. Constitution) to change the inevitable outcome of a sizable win by Barack Obama to be the next president of the United States.
This will be a watershed year for the politics in America, I believe.
The Republican Party is as likely as not to be so marginalized by the election results that it cannot ever recover.
The coalition of Republican moderates, Republican conservatives, Neocons, Christian fundamentalists (known as the Christian-right) and wayward Democrats cobbled together by Ronald Reagan is shattered, never to be reconciled.
The Republican Party apparatus has been captured by Christian-right; Republican moderates are looking for shelter with the Democrats; wayward Democrats are finding their way home; Neocons will sneak off to hiding places in the shadows of politics until such time that they think they can give their fascist thoughts new life with new buzzwords.
In short, the fault lines of American politics have changed--not shifted, but actually changed.
Something similar to the G.O.P. fracture could also happen to the Democratic Party, but not this year.
Politically, we live in an extremely complicated, pluralistic country and an even more complicated, pluralistic world. Therefore, issues are more complicated and far more difficult to resolve.
Today, labels such as moderate, liberal and conservative, are meaningless; Monikers such as Republican, Democrat, independent have no relevance. Those describe the old fault lines, which are quickly disappearing. Everything is back to zero.
The new fault lines harken back to the beginning of the republic--simply defining the role of government in general, and the federal government in particular, in any given issue.
Instead, the body politic must see itself as citizens of the U. S., without descriptive labels. People have to reframe the political issues that affect their lives by applying new and different criteria to each single issue. Those new criteria, the original ones used by the founding fathers, are the fault lines of our future politics.
There are two fault lines that the citizens must negotiate: first determining whether or not government has any role at all being involved in the issue at question and, second, if it's determined government does indeed have a role, defining just what that role is.
For example, take the issue of privacy. We already have determined through our collective experience that government does have a role in that issue, either to guarantee individual privacy or to invade any given individual's privacy.
The second fault line, of course, is where on the continuum of government involvement is an acceptable point (ranging from absolutely no intrusion of an individual's privacy--one extreme--to rejecting any sense or expectation of personal privacy at all--the other extreme).
The same criteria will be applied to healthcare and nearly any other issue that affects the public. That is, should the government be involved and, if so, to what extent and in what manner? At the core, that is what politics are.
There are those who believe that government should have no involvement in any issue. That view is one of ignorance.
Government is how any society--particularly a society that tries to function in a democratic way--solves its collective problems. In a republic such as ours, the people elect representatives (dare I say politicians?) to tangle with the issues of the day.
Those representatives have only two duties: (1) to determine whether or not government has a role in an issue and (2) if so, what that role should be.
The redundancy is intended to completely make my point, but it's easy to see the new fault lines and it's just as easy to see how the old labels of moderate, conservative, liberal, Republican or Democrat are completely irrelevant to the discussion.
Maybe labels, even some of the old ones, will be attached to those fault lines but, they will have new meanings. If and when the old labels are resurrected, we need to create, and get used to, new definitions.
© Copyright 2008 by P. A. Triot. Reproduce and distribute at will, with proper attribution.