The United States has two primary political parties. Each party suffers from its unique problems. The Democrats haven’t had a definable political agenda since Franklin D. Roosevelt ran in his first presidential election in 1932. Lyndon B. Johnson borrowed from Roosevelt’s platform for his first direct election for president in 1964. Johnson expanded upon Roosevelt’s New Deal program. What has happened as a result of this non platform? The Democratic Party once controlled the solid South, now the South is solidly Republican. This is strange, for in that solid South, each state has a very large percentage of Afro-Americans. No matter what the Democratic Party is, to an understanding Afro-American, the Republican Party is anathema. The Democratic Party needs to get whatever story it has to tell out and more important, get the Afro-Americans to turn out to vote.
Another strange thing about the Democrats is that they can’t win governorships in key states considered solidly Democratic. Look at Massachusetts. Massachusetts was the sole state to vote for the Democrat candidate, George McGovern in his 1972 presidential race. Every other state went Republican. Recently, although Massachusetts votes mainly Democratic; it has elected four Republican governors since January 1991. The State of New York is even more Democratic. It has a longer history of only Democratic governors, but the current governor, George E. Pataki, has been a Republican governor since November 1994. To add insult to misery, New York City, a stronghold of Democrats, currently has a Republican mayor. How does the Democratic Party explain these losses plus others? Losing the governor’s office makes holding the state harder in other elections. Failing to have a positive acceptable national program makes it even harder. What will any middle-of-the road, non affiliated voter vote for? A person just can’t vote for a candidate if that candidate is only against something.
The Republicans have a hidden weapon. When either house of Congress is viewed on television, look very carefully. Look for the wires that run from the party’s whip or leader to each Republican member. Each Republican member’s hand goes up when the leader pulls the wire on very key issues. They all vote without any thought, but only at their party’s call. They all are prompted to speak on the same points outside the chambers. They all vote mindlessly on vital subjects of major importance to their Republican president. Think about the vacancies on our Supreme Court! After the president announces a nominee each Republican, even without any knowledge, all praises the nominee, probably without even knowing the candidate’s name. (Maybe, with the Harriet E. Miers nomination we may see a difference.)
Another Republican problem is that the party needs a great deal of money to maintain its dominant position. A chunk of that money comes from corporations. That means that these corporations and other wealthy contributors need some kind of reward. That comes with appointments to important government positions, in many cases by incompetent people. The Republican Party’s mantra is to have its members stick together on important issues. Therefore, appointees like John Bolton and Alberto Gonzales get confirmed. The open hostility John Bolton is receiving in the United Nations has shown that his recess appointment was wrong. Bolton did have large support in the Senate when his name was offered; otherwise his recess appointment would never have been made. Alberto Gonzales wrote the approved memo on torture. That almost makes him a criminal. In spite of these known facts, he was overwhelmingly approved as Attorney General by a Republican Senate.
These are just a few of the big problems each party faces in the upcoming elections. The congressional elections come up next year. The parties face the presidential election two years from that election – the Republicans without an incumbent.