Driving home tonight, I was listening to news about Arlen Specter switching to the Democrats. I'm not happy about it, not because I particularly like any Republican policy, but because I did like that there was at least still some small sliver of a balance of power.
On the other hand, in a way that has never really happened in my lifetime, it's interesting that one party really owns all the responsibility for managing the country's problems at the moment. Since Republican's can't pull off a filibuster even with 100% solidarity, and since the Democrats have a firm majority in the house, there really is no excuse at all for the Democrats not to fulfill their collective promises. Claims of republican obstruction are going to ring hollow. On a wide range of topics, from climate change, to fuel supplies, to foreign policy, to health care, the Democrats will be left with two choices: Act, or try to blame Bush.
I suspect we'll see the later strategy. I don't think Democrats are truly eager to enact rigid carbon caps; they have to know that this would strangle the economy at the worst possible time. I predict, instead, that they will hem and haw and commission on it, then enact some legislation that goes into effect in 2016, after Obama's out of office. When pressed why they aren't acting more aggressively now that they hold all the reins of power, they'll say that their hands are tied by the economic stagnation that Bush created. Any foreign policy that doesn't go their way: Bush poisoned the waters.
And, I think this will have some traction for a year or two, but, long term, the democrats are going to really have to figure out how they are going to placate their most rabid members. Bush's blood will only sustain them so long. Eventually, all the interesting fights will be democrat versus democrat.
Here's an idea I had that may be the Republican's last hope of wielding any power: Every last member of the house and senate should switch their party affiliation to Democrat. Just have the republican party fold up shop, and flood the ranks of the Dems with conservatives, who will then have a real shot at building political coalitions with moderates. Remove the power of party labels by putting everyone under one umbrella, and shift the debate from what defines a party to what defines the individual members.
I know it won't happen, but it's still an interesting thought. I suspect the republicans will just hold on, hoping for the day that the democrats stumble badly enough to bring them back to power, which certainly will happen one day. After all, I don't think the Democrats owe their present popularity and power to Barack Obama--I think the real savior of the democratic party was George Bush.