E. J. Dionne Jr. wrote in WaPo Elections at midterm can be low-interest affairs or immensely important. This fall's congressional elections will be a big show with large consequences, because 2006 is looking a lot like the political years 1958, 1966 and 1978, all of which heralded major political transformations.
Or at least the Democrats, and their lap dogs in the MSM, are certainly hoping it will.The Democratic sweep in 1958 presaged the party's strength in the Kennedy-Johnson years. Democratic dominance peaked in LBJ's 1964 landslide. But just two years later, big Republican gains signaled problems in the Democratic coalition that the party struggles with to this day.
Like not having a plan.The 1978 elections during Jimmy Carter's presidency marked the emergence of a powerful New Right that swept Ronald Reagan into office in 1980 and continues to be the dominant force in the Republican Party.
The 2006 elections will be a test of the audacious Karl Rove-George W. Bush plan to launch a long-term Republican Era. They foresee an alliance of corporate interests and religious conservatives, with the South as its home base. Business provides the money. Middle-class traditionalists furnish the troops.
But the alliance always threatens to disintegrate because its wings have very different priorities and competing values.
Just as the Democratic party finds its extreme left wing very much at odds with the moderates that have stayed in that party.Moreover, conservatives can't win elections on their own. They need moderate votes,
Just as liberals can't win without moderate votes as well.and significant support outside the old Confederacy. Bush's carefully cultivated image as a strong, trustworthy leader in the war on terrorism brought around enough middle-of-the road voters to create the Republican monolith that is now our national government.
And with the loudest voices in the Democratic party pushing to defeat the Patriot Act and stop the NSA Wiretaps, that have prevented another attack in this country since 9/11, how many of those moderate voters are going to trust the Democrats to keep them safe?