Reflection offers parties a chance to regroup and prepare

N By Martin Andrade

now that we have had a while to reflect on the 2002 midterm elections, we should have a good idea about why certain things occurred. Supposedly, a bunch of people do this. I’ve heard more tripe on these elections than I care to ponder.

Complaints about the media not getting out the Democratic message (good excuse) to the moderation of the Republican Party (I hope not) run rampant. While we might hear the country is divided or endure sports metaphors about yard lines and triples and slam dunks, we cannot just assume the reason a bunch of people stepped right did so for the same reasons. Not everyone walks along the same political path.

What we should be doing, however, is looking forward. Nov. 5 was a huge victory for the anti-abortion movement. Gov.-elect Tim Pawlenty is anti-abortion and was not afraid to mention it. Sen.-elect Norm Coleman was anti-abortion and he never backed down. The Republicans have no need to shy away from being anti-abortion. Republicans do not run on being anti-abortion – it is no longer the focus of the party, merely a part of it.

But what of the Democrats? It seems with the expansion of moderate Republicans promoting a sizable government, subsidies and welfare, the Democrats have lost their clout. The Democrats are now the abortion rights party and that seems to be the only popular reason people will vote for them. That is their key defining issue when compared to Republicans.

The failures of the Democrats cannot be ignored. In the last 10 years, we have seen liberalism heave its last gasp among the modern day electorate. The Democrats watched as their hold on the U.S. House disappeared, their 2000 presidential candidate failed and their hope for the U.S. Senate ended for another two years. This has left Democrats out of power at the federal level and nearly out of power in Minnesota. They have quite literally been relegated to “other party” status. They are the minority check on the system and the protectorate of abortion rights.

Now comes the possibility of a new minority party. With the election of hard-line left-winger Nancy Pelosi as House minority leader, the Democrats appear to be taking the road of permanent minority status. By going left, the Democrats can only alienate more of the electorate until we have the emergence of new parties to fill in the gap, either by caucusing with the Democrats or by going through another of the already existent third parties. In our system of government, two parties will always hold the federal government, which means in any case the end of the Democrats as we know them. They still have, however, an opportunity to avoid the powers of a paradigm shift.

Today, politicians have the pull of only four large groups of people – the anti-abortionists and the abortion rights activists, the religious right, the moderate and the pro-government right. The new party lines will have to be written somewhere among those groups. And really, the incoherence of the abortion rights crowd will be enough to solidify some form of Republicanism in our government, but it will be the “small, yet active” Republican philosophy. The left is dead, and we anti-government conservatives will have to do what we always do, though out of power. We win the intellectual war and prepare for the long haul, like the statesmen we are supposed to be.

Martin Andrade is a University junior majoring in psychology. Send letters to the editor to [email protected]