Current Affairs

A Search for Meaning?

There’s a great article in today’s New York Times Sunday Magazine exploring the future of the Democratic Party. Written by Matt Bai, Wiring the Vast Left-Wing Conspiracy explores for the party’s reason for being — meaning a rationale that goes beyond this year’s anti-Bush focus.

We tend to think of the two political parties that have ruled American politics for the last 150 years as being cemented into the framework of the Constitution. In fact, parties, like the political movements that sustain them, have shelf lives.

In the 1840’s and 1850’s, the Whig Party, at various times, controlled the White House and both houses of Congress. By 1860, at a loss to coherently address slavery, the defining debate of the time, the Whigs vanished from the planet like a bunch of pterodactyls, replaced by Republicans.

It is not unthinkable that the privatization of Democratic politics is a step toward institutional obsolescence. People like Andy Rappaport and Jonathan Soros might succeed in revitalizing progressive politics — while at the same time destroying what we now call the Democratic Party.

Indeed, political parties ebbed and flowed much differently a century ago!