What's with E.J. Dionne helping the Republicans?
Why on earth is Dionne trying to help Republicans? And is there anything new, anything new at all, in what he's recommending? Is there some dog-whistle Beltway Insider message here that I'm missing? Anyhow, his advice goes double for Democrats, as we shall see:
A Down-Under Lesson for the GOP?
Pay attention to [Australian Prime Minister John] Howard. His approach could be a model for how parties of the right -- including Republicans in the United States -- manage to build majorities in turbulent times.
Howard has a genius for picking the right wedge issues.
So the difference between Howard and Rove would be? (Besides Rove's viciousness, I mean)
This has been Howard's way since he defeated Paul Keating, a Labor Party prime minister, in 1996. Oddly, the two political enemies have a lot in common.
What's odd about it? Both give fealty to globalization--as does Beltway Insider Dionne.
As George Megalogenis argues in his new book, "The Longest Decade," both Howard and Keating believed in opening up the once highly protected Australian economy to global market forces. The two, Megalogenis writes, "bombarded us with change."
But there was a big difference. Keating was also in favor of cultural change -- bravely so, in the eyes of his friends.
Howard, on the other hand, thought that in a time of rapid economic change, Australians needed to cling to some of the old sources of stability, including the symbols.
And the difference between Howard and Rove would be?
What's exportable about Howard's politics is his shrewd understanding that conservative parties embracing hard-line market economics need to provide those threatened by economic change with something to hang on to -- tradition, nation, family, flag -- so that their world doesn't fly apart.
What's to export? We don't have enough Republican symbols already?
Or is Dionne only belatedly coming to the Beltway Insider's realization that people's lives are "flying apart" in this country, too?
Anyhow, this column is stupid, stupid, stupid, and here's why:
The title should be A Down-Under Lesson for Democrats? The key nugget Dionne passes on is this:
Australians needed to cling to some of the old sources of stability, including the symbols.
What Dionne wierdly fails to notice is that all the symbols he mentions are symbols of monarchy. Then again, maybe this isn't weird, because it fits with the general Beltway Insider's derelict failure to recognize Bussh's monarchical pretensions.
Americans are not citizens, or Americans, because of the flag, or any other kind of symbol--no matter how much authoritarians would like to manipulate us into being so.
Americans are citizens, and Americans, because of the Constitution. The Constitution is both the founding document of our nation, and the central symbol of our civil religion.
And Americans understand that accountability only comes because the constitution has checks and balances. That's our tradition. Almost instinctively, Americans understand that nobody should have all the power; that power must always be divided and checked if people are to be free. (That's a lesson the Republican coup d'etat in the Clinton years surely taught them.)
So why is Dionne recommend that Republicans run on symbols like the flag?
What Dionne should be recommending is that Democrats run on symbols like the Constitution!