GOP ascendancy … and crack up?

Read this piece from Britannica contributor Joseph Lane.

It's critique of how Mitt Romney is handling the fact of his single-biggest achievement as Massachusetts governor — enactment of a major health reform bill that includes an individual mandate — as he attempts to win the 2012 GOP presidential nomination.

What I found most interesting were these two points he concludes with:

All of this suggests one of two things:

1) The Republican party is still in its ascendancy. The Obama election and the Democratic congressional majorities of 2007-2011 were nothing but a blip on a trajectory of increasing conservatism that dates at least back to Reagan???s 1980 election. Alternative constitutional and political visions that deviate from the one articulated by Reagan are still ultimately doomed to failure in American politics for the foreseeable future, and the force, clarity, and implications of that vision are growing sharper, so sharp in fact that many writers who were hitherto considered conservatives now admit that Reagan himself would be too heterodox to fit within the orthodoxy that he helped establish.

2) The very ferocity of this Republican insistence on strict adherence to its constitutional vision suggests that the political hegemony of that vision is precarious and crumbling. At times in American constitutional history, the most dogged defenses of strict party orthodoxies indicate the weakness of the constitutional understanding on which they are based. Dred Scott was the most ambitious and categorical statement of many well-worn constitutional pieties of the Jacksonian Democrats, but its promulgation as constitutional law pulled the Jacksonian Democrats apart and the nation into Civil War. The most rabidly laissez-faire readings of the constitution in the early 20th century were announced precisely as the progressive vision of Roosevelt was beginning to make sense to many people and the restrictive view of the federal government???s power over the economy was doomed to give up the struggle (at least for a time).

I don't buy the GOP crack-up theory, only because I agree so much with point #1.


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