George Wallace was famous for saying there was no difference between the parties. Well, the parties are increasingly widening the chasm between themselves.
This article makes it clear that in significant ways, the Democrats and Republicans offer voters a clear choice.
Most Democratic strategists acknowledge public anxiety about the financial bailouts, overall spending, and the deficit; it’s likely that Obama will nod toward long-term deficit reduction in next year’s State of the Union address. But Democrats believe that Republicans are missing Americans’ support for job-creating public investments and their desire for government to defend them against powerful interests. They point to polling results like those showing majority backing for tougher financial regulation and a public competitor to private insurers.
Americans want government intervention “where they feel powerful special interests have taken advantage,” says David Axelrod, Obama’s senior political adviser. “When people see Republicans siding against [those policies]… it squares with a perception of them as guardians of special interests.”
Both parties see public discontent with Washington. Who could miss it? But Republicans believe that Americans have concluded, Reagan-like, that “government is the problem.” Democrats see something closer to the attitude that Andrew Jackson popularized in the 1820s and ’30s, rage that the rich and powerful are manipulating government to their advantage.
The Reagan diagnosis argues for less government; the Jackson interpretation, for an agenda that constrains the powerful and bolsters working families. The Democrats’ bet on a new burst of federal activism will ride on whether they can convince Americans that their agenda is advancing those goals, not just engorging a government that many Americans still distrust.