There is a lot of talk about whether, looking ahead to the 2010 elections, we’re looking at 1980, or 1994, or 1932 or some other American political year that I can’t even think of right now. I actually think we’re looking at a different year altogether: 1989. As you may recall, 1989 was a big year. While Obama can’t be bothered to get his sorry self over to Berlin, that was the year the Berlin Wall fell. That was the year the former Soviet Union imploded. That was the end of the 70+ year long European Communist experiment. It was a big deal.
What made 1989 a really big deal was that nobody in the establishment saw it coming. As far as the realpolitik types were concerned (and the liberals, and the media), Communism was a rock solid, all-powerful entity. In their world view, we were going to be in a perpetual stalemate with our Cold War enemy, because we were all equally weak and equally strong. On college campuses we were also told that the European Communists really weren’t all that bad and, Rodney King-like, we should just all learn to get along.
Except that this controlling paradigm was anything but true. European Communism was rotten to the core. Its people were prisoners, but the prison walls were beginning to collapse under their own weight. The government managed economies were completely unsustainable. This internal rot mean that the external pressure the Ronald Reagan placed on those inefficient, dysfunctional economies, coupled with his relentless cheerleading for freedom, brought the whole festering edifice crumbling down.
What was so amazing about the crumble was the speed with which it happened. If any of us had thought about it, we would have said that European Communism would slowly diminish over the years and the decades. None of us envisioned the almost instantaneous collapse that occurred. We oldsters remember that magic moment when the Berlin Wall, an overwhelming physical symbol of the Cold War, simply vanished. Gone.
Up until about August 2009, conventional wisdom was that the liberal juggernaut was unstoppable. Under the guidance of the God-like Obama, progressive liberalism was a rock solid, all-powerful entity. Charles Krauthammer argues that Tuesday put the lie to that fairy tale:
In the aftermath of last year’s Obama sweep, we heard endlessly about its fundamental, revolutionary, transformational nature. How it was ushering in an FDR-like realignment for the 21st century in which new demographics — most prominently, rising minorities and the young — would bury the GOP far into the future. One book proclaimed “The Death of Conservatism,” while the more modest merely predicted the terminal decline of the Republican Party into a regional party of the Deep South or a rump party of marginalized angry white men.
This was all ridiculous from the beginning. 2008 was a historical anomaly. A uniquely charismatic candidate was running at a time of deep war weariness, with an intensely unpopular Republican president, against a politically incompetent opponent, amid the greatest financial collapse since the Great Depression. And still he won by only seven points.
Exactly a year later comes the empirical validation of that skepticism. Virginia — presumed harbinger of the new realignment, having gone Democratic in ’08 for the first time in 44 years — went red again. With a vengeance. Barack Obama had carried it by six points. The Republican gubernatorial candidate won by 17 — a 23-point swing. New Jersey went from plus 15 Democratic in 2008 to minus 4 in 2009. A 19-point swing.
Ah,” say the skeptics (and Nancy Pelosi). “You’re just looking at two elections. That means nothing.” Well, that may be true. Except that Riehl World notes that Democratic politicians in more conservative communities are abandoning the sinking liberal ship. And they’re not slowly abandoning it but, instead, are swiftly heading for the life boats in en masse departures:
Seven Simpson County officials have switched from the Democratic Party to the Republican Party.
District Attorney Eddie Bowen, Sheriff Kenneth Lewis, Supervisor Mickey Berry, Justice Court Judge Eugene Knight, Constable Dan Easterling and D’Lo Alderman Michael Shoemaker made the announcement at the Republican Party headquarters in Jackson today.
“I’m just more of a conservative person,” Berry said.
I don’t track elections the way more savvy political observers do. But I know a trend and can recognize a historic pattern when I see one — and I’m betting that 2009 is going to be the Democratic equivalent of 1989 for the European Communists. Not only is the Party over, but it’s going to crater with mind-boggling speed.
That doesn’t mean we’re out of the woods, of course. Even a damaged party, and a badly damaged party at that, can inflict plenty of wounds on the American economy. Worse, with Obama in the driver’s seat for at least another three years, we can expect our foreign policy and our national security to continue to swing wildly into danger zones. With or without Congress and the American people at his back, a hubristic Barack Obama is going to continue his bizarre foreign policy of bowing to dictators, offending friends, and turning his back on the hard work of keeping safe both Americans at home and American troops abroad.
UPDATE: I’m not the only one who sees lessons in 1989. Bruce Kesler also thinks it’s an important year for us to look back upon and learn from, with the Berlin Wall as the lesson’s centerpiece.
Cross-posted at Right Wing News