Broder looks ahead

BRODER LOOKS AHEAD…. David Broder makes a few competing points in his column today, some of which struck me as more persuasive than others, but the crux of his argument seemed to be that the next Congress probably won’t be pretty. The near future will feature “such wild gyrations and produce such untried novices that the partisan warfare of the past two years will seem mild by comparison.”

On this, we agree. For all the talk that most Americans want a more productive, less rancorous Washington, the electorate appears poised to deliver the exact opposite.

But after a series of observations, it was Broder’s conclusion that got me thinking.

This is not ultimately a radical nation, and those Republicans who are in love with radical notions of remaking the society to fit their own philosophy will have to be brought back in touch with reality.

When a party fails to do that, it can find the seeds of its own destruction in the victory banquet. Republicans, and the country, deserve better.

That strikes me as pretty compelling.

But I hope the political establishment appreciates recent history here. The Republican Party moved to the right before suffering serious setbacks in 2006. It moved a little further to the right, and lost another cycle in 2008. It then moved sharply to the very far right, but is nevertheless poised to make sweeping gains in the 2010 midterms.

Broder hopes to see some of these newly-elected radicals be “brought back in touch with reality.” I’d like to see the same. But parties tend to work on a system of rewards and punishments, and if GOP extremism wins, voters will send a signal to the mainstream that recent radicalism is acceptable — even preferrable.

Broder suggests, as a long-term proposition, the Republicans’ break with reality may ultimately sow the “seeds of its own destruction.” Perhaps. But those green shoots will be even further away after radicals feel emboldened by an electoral endorsement.