Things Change

Liberals often joke about how all it takes is one backbench Democratic member of Congress looking at another one funny to produce a "Dems in Disarray!" headline. But today the Republicans truly are in disarray. They just got whupped in a presidential election; they can't quite seem to figure out how to handle the current fiscal negotiations; their leading figure is a not-particularly-appealing House Speaker terrified of his own caucus; their agenda is clearly unpopular; they can't escape their image as the party of the rich; and they represent, almost exclusively, a demographic (white people) that is rapidly sliding toward minority status. It's not a good time to be a Republican.

Which is why, as a public service announcement, I thought I'd offer a little reminder. Just a few short years ago, plenty of smart and informed people were contemplating how successful Karl Rove and George Bush would be at creating a "permanent Republican majority." There were books written like Building Red America: The New Conservative Coalition and the Drive for Permanent Power by Tom Edsall and One Party Country: The Republican Plan for Dominance in the 21st Century by Tom Hamburger and Peter Wallsten, both published in 2006, which explained how the GOP was cleverly and ruthlessly laying the groundwork to marginalize Democrats for a generation or more.

With the benefit of hindsight, it's easy to see that many of the presumptions of those analyses were mistaken. If in 2004 you had told people that just eight years later the man Bush dubbed "The Architect" would be derided as a laughable, self-deluded loser, no one would have believed you. But so it goes. Things change quickly in politics, and today's immutable truth often becomes tomorrow's historical curiosity.

The lesson Democrats should take is this: better get things done while you have the chance.

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