2004: Realignment, Now More than Ever

An 2004 article by Fred Barnes in The Weekly Standard, after the Republican victories in the House, Senate, and with Bush being reelected, exclaiming how the Republican majority was “expected to last for years, maybe decades”.

Listen to Walter Dean Burnham, professor emeritus at University of Texas at Austin, who is the nation’s leading theorist of realignment, the shift of political power from one party to another. The 2004 election, he says, “consolidates it all”–that is, it solidifies the trend that has favored Republicans over the past decade. To Burnham, it means there’s “a stable pattern” of Republican rule. “If Republicans keep playing the religious card along with the terrorism card, this could last a long time,” he says.

Democrats will have enormous difficulty overcoming “the huge weight of Republican strength,” he says.

Rove, leery of claiming too much for Republicans, said on Meet the Press on November 7 that “there are no permanent majorities in American politics.”

For Republicans to slip into minority status again, [Burnham] says, it would take a monumental party split like that in 1912 or “a colossal increase in the pain level” of Americans as happened with the Great Depression. Neither is likely.

The point of the article, IMHO, is that nothing is permanent and anything can change in an instant. Even for Democrats. So unless Obama can truely usher in an era of bipartisanship, we’re doomed to repeat history.

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