Saturday, October 06, 2007

Who's Staying and Who's Leaving

Social conservatives and Fiscal Conservatives, that's who's staying and leaving the Republican Party. Some of us pointed to this trend after the last elections, but now it's front page news on the Wall Street Journal.

Already, economic conservatives who favor balanced federal budgets have become a much smaller part of the party's base. That's partly because other groups, especially social conservatives, have grown more dominant. But it's also the result of defections by other fiscal conservatives angered by the growth of government spending during the six years that Republicans controlled both the White House and Congress.

The most prominent sign of dissatisfaction has come from former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan, long a pillar of Republican Party economic thinking. He blasted the party's fiscal record in a new book. In an interview with The Wall Street Journal, he said: "The Republican Party, which ruled the House, the Senate and the presidency, I no longer recognize."

The debate about which political party best serves our interests has been ongoing in Objectivist circles since before the start of the Iraq War. Many claim that we, and those who at least nominally think like we do are too small a population to make a difference, and that since the Republicans still have the business vote, they will serve our interests best. Look again. When the Republican party loses the business vote, what will it have that is of interest to anyone with Objectivist leanings? Answer: nothing.

Political dynamics in the US are much like swings in commodity pricing, where demand and supply is usually very balance, and small shifts in either cause huge swings in prices. So too, the country is split roughly 50/50 Republican/Democrat and that means that the swing vote calls the shots, so fewer voters need be of moderate persuasion to significantly impact election results. Witness the 04 election results. So it is that the so-called "fiscal conservative" or "libertarian" wing of the Republican party is a large faction and the Republican party cannot stay dominant without them, and the Democratic party would love to have them. And when factions are courted, one has an opportunity to try to make fundamental change.

I have no illusions that politics will change overnight, but it is the continued exercise of political will based upon rational principles, and the continued communication of those principles that will ultimately see shifts in both parties for the better.

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