Friday, November 03, 2006

The most depressing election ever

American politics has been getting more and more depressing since the late 1990s, with one serious but flawed party (the Republicans) abandoning its guiding ideas in favor of pork, vote-buying, and questionable foreign policy adventures; and the other, unserious party (the Democrats) that's become a hollow joke. Diana West summarizes the foreign policy situation in her column today as one party getting it wrong and the other not getting it at all. With regards to the threat of radical Islam, the right approach is opposition to jihad, not support for democracy. Most politicians in the Western world - emphatically including Bush, his supporters, and the neoconservatives - are too enmeshed in the woozy rhetoric and practice of political correctness to accept and act upon this fact.

Domestically, the Republicans have abandoned the promising conservative reform agenda of the 1990s and embraced big government in astonishing ways. Instead of working to end political correctness and the erosion of intellectual standards in education, they have instituted an expensive and breathtaking federal takeover of American education with a dubious, one-size-fits-all program of incessant testing - the sort of thing you would impose only on failing schools - that threatens to lower everyone to minimal competence. Instead of grabbing the opportunity to start the overdue reform of federal entitlements - phasing in benefit and eligibility changes, replacing the regressive and job-destroying payroll tax with a national sales tax - they added the largest new domestic spending commitment since the Great Society.

But of course, you'll get nothing better from most Democrats, just more of the same: denial that there's any problem with entitlements, and refusal to break with the teachers unions and educational establishment. And the Democrats have, not a bad foreign policy, but none at all. The party instead has been gorging on its diet of juvenile Bush-hatred, with nothing better to feed on. The one glimmer of hope from that side is that so many conservative Democrats are running this time.

One party's wrong, and the other - to borrow from my recent musings on string theory - is not even wrong. What's a voter to do?

The Republicans may redeem themselves in the end - they have great conservative traditions to fall back on, if anyone could awaken them from their current stupor. Some are beginning to realize that the real problem with Islam, is Islam. They only need look back on the history of Christianity and the pivotal role of the Reformation to understand the problem. If they really knew the history of how Islam was spread by coercion and the classical Islamic attitude towards non-Muslims and women, they would understand even better. And they could form a potent alliance with liberals and secularists in consistent opposition to jihad. Unfortunately, Bush's "democratism" threatens to permanently put a serious alternative out of reach.

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