In 1981, the Democrats suffered with a similar kind of leadership void that the GOP now faces. Back then, it would have been difficult to name the person in charge of the Democratic Party. The years following the Jimmy Carter presidency left the party looking like a clown car pulling away from the curb. If you have any doubt today that the GOP leadership void is severe, then ask ten friends this question: Who is in charge of the Republican Party? Better yet, read a few of the conservative blogs where the discussions about a need for leadership are delivered in words that sound almost apoplectic. The scene that will come to your mind is the one in the movie, Home Alone, when Macaulay Culkin first realizes that he has been deserted. All the grown-ups have left the house.
It is never a good thing when a major American political party finds itself in a corner like this. When both major political parties are healthy, democracy operates as it should. The excesses are eventually filtered away from both parties, and the system is able to save itself from the kind of narrowed ideology that has consumed democracy these last eight years.
Filtering through the extreme ideology of both parties at any given time in history has typically been a painfully slow process. For both parties, the move from the fringe edge toward an acceptable compromised middle takes place only when a couple of stars line up. First, voters usually demand a change from one of the two parties. Then, it is up to the leadership of that party to respond to those voter demands. In 2009, the GOP no doubt hears that voter mandate for change. Unfortunately, right now, there is no leadership at home to help move the GOP away from that radical image that voters have rejected. Nothing good occurs when either major party loses its sense of who's in charge. The biggest problem is that second rate, de facto leadership can easily step into the role of setting direction and policy for an entire political party.
For example, several weeks ago, Joe (Wurzelbacher), the plumber, was invited to a GOP leadership meeting to help hammer out the details of the party's position on the US economy. Apparently Joe, who is not really even a plumber, much less an economist, was not in favor of a new stimulus package. The overwhelming majority of "home alone" Republican congressmen and senators must have been moved by their new GOP visionary, Joe, because for three weeks they used their party's power to delay an economic stimulus. But there are other leaders besides Joe setting policy for Republicans while the adults are away. The chatter inside the beltway is that the major part of GOP decision making can usually be traced back to right wing radio hosts such as Michael Savage and Rush Limbaugh. That is a good indication that the GOP has lost its adult supervision.
Democrats, Independents, and Republicans, should pray that HRS arrives on the scene before the children burn down their own home.
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