Democrats & Liberals Archives

Return to Hybrid Vigor?

In genetics and breeding, hybrid vigor refers to increased strength and adaptability in the offspring of genetically distinct parents by virtue of combining their various strengths. It doesn’t always work in genetics, nor does it in politics, as sometimes one gets some of the worst of both, rather than the best. But too much inbreeding is sure to be a bad thing in either venue, as bad traits are magnified, and weaknesses exposed.

Let's hope that mixed government over the next several years comes as a blessing this time, assuming that it comes to pass as the indicators suggest. It currently seems likely that the House will change hands in this election, while the Senate is pretty unlikely to do so. Looking ahead two years, it would not be at all surprising to see the Republicans regain the house as typically safe seats return to their expected parties, but the Democrats should pick up the Senate where many more vulnerable Republicans than Democrats are up for reelection in 2008 (21 R & 12 D). (Compare to 2006: 18 D/I, 15 R).

The Presidency in 2008 is anybody's guess, depending on who runs, but a strong Democrat stands a mighty good chance based on the current mood. Two years in politics is an eon, however. In the long haul, I would expect the Democrats to fare well in the next decade in the House, after another redistricting and a longer perspective and the introduction of more moderate Democrats brings greater parity. Perhaps a third party will finally emerge nationally, as disgust with the partisan bickering grows.

Practical politics and real compromise may become more common, if the power game equation starts to change. It's just as easy to imagine much direr results based on global volatility, violent reactions to power shifts, or heavy handed clamp-downs in the face of popular uprisings. I certainly have no illusions that Democratic control of the House will make things all sweetness and light. Even if a more fluid political environment brings some compromise and dialog, no doubt it will be accompanied by a good measure of gridlock. But even gridlock will constitute a major improvement over the runaway one-party control we're seeing now.

As hopeful as I am for change, election time can be awfully depressing, as candidates are cornered into 30-second position statements and oversimplified mischaracterizations of their opponents. I shake my head and roll my eyes as much listening to the Democratic candidates as to the Republicans, however much I may be certain that the Democrats are far more likely to vote my interests. Is campaigning better in Maine, Connecticut, and Arizona, where public financing is gaining a foothold?

Sleazy politicians of every stripe will always be with us. Maybe we'll get to the place that decent politicians are less pushed to act sleazy. The first order of business is to get to the polls and vote, in spite of the nonsense we'll hear on the airwaves for the next six days.

Posted by Walker Willingham at November 1, 2006 8:09 AM
Comments
Comment #192271

Politics is an interesting creature. If Democrats take office and actually do some real good - improve the U.S. situation in Iraq, head off North Korea, return our liberties, reduce presidential power, reduce government spying, denounce torture, keep taxes reasonable without driving our country into debt (I do wonder who we owe all of our money to…likely China…tell that to the Republican flocks: “This tax rebate brought to you by Beijing”), bolster education and fund basic research , give America a reason to be proud of itself again and respected in the world - maybe the Republicans will drop their self-serving ways and jump on the bandwagon and we can have a more UNITED government and country.

I don’t remember the last time our government did something that was right for America.

Debate across the aisle is fine, but I’m a firm believer of a government for the people…ALL the people, not just the ones collecting kickbacks in D.C. A little enforced honesty and integrity would go a long way to solving divisions amongst our politicians. The goals would change. They might even do what was right and not what they were paid to do by some corporation or special interest.

Posted by: Thomas R at November 1, 2006 1:17 PM
Comment #192285

Nice post Walker.
Do you think there is any way either the Dems or Reps will maybe fix their respected platforms to better represent the majority of voters?
Or do you think they will be content with just winning close elections?

Posted by: kctim at November 1, 2006 1:44 PM
Comment #192332

Good article.

Posted by: Trent at November 1, 2006 3:04 PM
Comment #192441

well, i hope the republicans have learned a hard lesson about power and how absolute power corrupts…more importantly, i hope that we democrats can be wise enough to learn from these same mistakes and not repeat them should we recapture both congress, the house and the presidency. i know this is every hardcore democrats dream…but be careful what you ask for!

Posted by: hawaiian don at November 1, 2006 7:25 PM
Comment #192555

I saw the crap Westly and Angelides trumped up in order to differentiate each other from the other, nearly all negative, in the California Democratic primary. Unfortunately, in order to swim in the cesspool of American politics you have to jump in with both feet.
As long as Americans see politicians as sleazy (who can blame them) a pol is vulnerable to negative ads. A pol can try and take the high rode but unless you have some incredibly compelling story or are in the finest tune of the zeitgeist you will be destroyed by your opponents negative ads. A catch-22 if ever there was one.

Posted by: chris2x at November 1, 2006 11:44 PM
Comment #192601

—Walker Willingham- I am sitting here on a very cold, early morning musing over thoughts of our
Constitution an those folks who put their collective heads together, an coming up with such
great works. Just imagine riding a horse, or ride
many miles in all kinds of weather, in horse drawn
buggy. Not wanting to drag this point on, I only
hope every one will make it to their polling place on
Tuesday an do their little part in continuing this
very special, mandated, by patriotic duty to
perform as you have never done before.

Posted by: DAVID at November 2, 2006 4:34 AM
Comment #192701

Walker,

Nice article. One interesting point you touched on is the possible emergence of a third party. I think if this does happen, it will be splits of the extreme and moderate wings of the current parties. Shifting attitudes and demographics, coupled with the shifts towards extremism in the respective bases of both parties make this more and more likely.

For the Democrats, I think the most likely scenario would be a break between the more extreme liberals of the Northeast and California and more moderate Democrats. This seems even more likely if moderate Democrats get elected in rural areas in general and regionally in the South and Mountain West. Especially if there is no shift in the leadership of the Democratic party from firebrand liberals like Dean and Pelosi, a moderate/liberal split seems a possibility. A spin off of this is that extreme liberals could abandon the Democratic party for the Greens or perhaps form their own Liberal party. Anther possible contributing factor is the continued erosion of traditional Democratic bases such as unions. As America continues to transition from an industrial to a services based economy, traditional Democratic contributors will lose influence at a national level, making regionally based moderate/liberal schisms more likely.

The Republicans also are at risk. The most likely split I see would be between Christian fundamentalists and more moderate Republicans. Right now, many socially conservative Christians are profoundly disappointed with Bush and the Republican party. As their numbers continue to grow, they could split from the Republican party and form some sort of Christian party. On the flip side of that, more moderate Republicans might be compelled to abandon an increasingly Christianized Republican Party, perhaps in favor of Libertarians. Another possibility could be a regionally based anti-immigration party.

Another possible third party, especially in reaction to the increasing power of anti-immigration politics might be a Hispanic party. Another related to that and in reaction against fundamentalist Christians could be a Catholic party or perhaps a mainline denominations Christian party taking in Catholics, Lutherans, Episcopals etc.

No matter how it turns out, I tend to think that the rise of a small number of parties beyond the two we have now could bode well for Americans. It would force compromise and possibly limit the partisan bickering. As long as we don’t erode into some sort of Italianesque craziness, I think the arrival of a true third or even fourth party is not only likely but welcome.

Posted by: 1LT B at November 2, 2006 12:23 PM
Comment #193154

1LT B e tal

Again the litany,third party will force compromise..compromise…compromise. The solutions to the pressing problems do not lie in compromise unfortunately. What do we do,fix half the broken healthcare system? Invade half of Iraq? Only have half the members of the NLRB be corporate union busting shills?Only achieve half of oil independance? Only solve half of the gl;obal warming crises? Only spend half of the bloated military budget on stupid ,expensive,useless weapons systems? Only allow half of women freedom of choice?Compromise is overrated and can be downright dangerious. The “great compromise” in the constitution literally set up the Civil War. The Munich compromise with Hitler led to WW2. “The only thing in the middle of the road are white lines and dead Armidillos.”

Posted by: BillS at November 3, 2006 4:56 PM
Comment #193160

Nancy Pelosi a “firebrand liberal.”? What make you think that? Is it because she opposes Bush? If so most Americans are firebrand liberals then. You have been propagandized. Nancy Pelosi is an Italian Catholic grandmother,for heavens sakes.

Posted by: BillS at November 3, 2006 5:15 PM
Comment #193205

Walker; I am going to have to disagree with your premise. A look at history will tell you why. The great leaps forward for our country have mostly been when congress and the Whitehouse were the same party and not just any party but the Democratic Party. SS,medicare,nearly all the great civil rights legislation, most minimum wage increases,prevailing rate.OSHA etc. etc.There have been a few advances from the Reps,the ADA for example with Reagan AND a Democratic congress. It probably would not have gotten through a Rep controlled congress.
There is reason (hopefully) to give thanks if the Dems take back one or both houses but the battle will not be won for honest,hardworking Americans until the Neo-cons are driven from Washington and their stench no longer lingers.

Posted by: BillS at November 3, 2006 8:49 PM
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