It’s a funny thing we are seeing these days. Democrats know full well that their tactics of slander and defeatism are not working to win elections, yet they just will not consider their position in any kind of mature light. Strange. Yet we have seen this before, and the problem seems to be based on raw emotion overriding better judgment. Political Compulsive Disorder, or PCD if you will.
Republicans have done it too, of course. Bill Clinton got on Conservative nerves like no one in a long time. This was partly due to his politics, but also his personal character – Conservatives hated the man, and were determined to find a weapon to use on him at almost all costs. That hardly means that the Impeachment was not valid; it was. But the emotions rose and fell at various times, and when it came time to follow, the Republicans in the Senate proved to have no fortitude for the task. And so, despite all the momentum leading up to the Senate trial, the actual event was weak and ineffective.
Of course, it should also be observed that Bill Clinton’s staff was equally obsessed with the same disorder. Just as Richard Nixon never seemed to realize, Bill Clinton failed to understand that he could have avoided all his serious trouble with a bit of candor; both men instead tried to deny and obfuscate and ignore the growing personal crisis, until in both cases the consequences grew too big to handle. In Nixon’s case, it cost him his job and place in history, while in Clinton’s turn it cost him what chance at a legacy he had, and damaged Al Gore’s chances to be President.
As for the Democrats, there’s a lot they need to learn from history. The Democrats owned control of Congress for more than half a century, and the loss to the Republicans has led to a bitter denial of reality in their midst. The PCD phenomenon showed up in the Democrats’ side in their vicious vendetta against Nixon in 1973, never dreaming it could lead to a backlash when an incompetent President put the security of the nation at risk in 1979. A new wave of Leftist PCD rose against Ronald Reagan, who refused to act as if his party were the minority, but instead whose policies and ideals resonated with the American public. That wave failed to harm Reagan, but damaged the fortunes of his successor, the less solid G.H.W. Bush. After Clinton’s election in 1992, under circumstances which outraged Republicans, it was the Conservative turn to suffer PCD, though it led to the beneficial uprising which changed control of the House of Representatives in 1994. But PCD is not a moderate emotion, and it drove GOP leaders to take actions and make statements which appeared immoderate and unstable to many Americans, especially as political gestures became more important to the party than keeping the promises made to gain control of the House. This enabled Clinton to be re-elected and enjoy the majority in the Senate through his time in office.
But time has shown the Leftists’ PCD to be far more severe and permanent. After George W. Bush won the White House in 2000, Democrats and Liberals in particular were extremely angry, just as Republicans were unhappy in 1992. But where most Republicans were able to work past their anger and adjust to reality to their advantage by 1994, the Democrats just got less and less reasonable. The short-lived amity after the 9/11 attacks displayed the intense and bitter hatred most on the Left carried in their hearts, and it drove them to harsh rhetoric and extremely partisan attacks. This, combined with President Bush’s organizational and motivating skills, led to unexpected gains for the Republicans in 2002.
I admit that while I was not particularly worried about President Bush’s chances for re-election in 2004, I did wonder how he would fare in the 2006 mid-term elections, and I sensed that with 5 of the last 7 Presidential elections going to the Republican candidate, the mood for a change might be dominant in 2008. As it happens however, if the Democrats cannot bring themselves to control their emotions and begin to act in a more mature manner, they not only may continue to lose seats in the upcoming 2006 election, but the 2008 as well. The ability to change course after all, is not an immediate thing, and the momentum of the past decade seems to be increasing in a rather unfavorable direction for the Democrats. The key for the Republicans, and especially Conservatives, is to watch for and avoid PCD ourselves if and when it should show again in our own ranks.