Tuesday, February 29, 2000
Houston, Texas
Volume 65, Issue 105

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Staff Editorial

Editorial Cartoon


About the Cougar

Two parties are always better than one

R. Alex Whitlock

Political pundit and "lefty" Donald Kaul once said of the Republican Party that it will not only fade away into obscurity, but historians will wonder how it lasted as long as it did. Kaul's sentiments are endlessly echoed by many in the media and nearly every leftist.

"How can the Republican party survive?" they ask. "After all, they are the party of special interests, the white male, and religious fundamentalists who are out of touch with mainstream America."

If true, it's remarkable how well this "out-of-touch" party does. First of all, they have control of both houses of Congress. They have a soft six-seat lead in the House (depending on how you count the independents), but a much stronger five-seat lead in the Senate. 

National polls defy the conventional wisdom that the Democrats will win the House in 2000, instead saying that they are running neck-and-neck. Additionally, both of the party's realistic presidential nominees are ahead in the polls nationally. A battered and bruised George W. Bush is still beating Al Gore nationally, though not by nearly as much as John McCain.

In state government, the Republicans control governorships by a 3-2 margin. Additionally, Republican governors generally have high approval ratings and hold eight of the nation's nine largest states. So, in 2001, the Republicans have a legitimate chance of controlling the presidency, both houses of Congress, and a majority of governorships. That's pretty amazing for such an "out-of-touch" party, isn't it?

Democrats like to dismiss Republican support as being limited to white males, but white males make up less than 40 percent of the electorate. The truth is that many women and some minorities find room in the GOP as well.

Democrats also like to say that Republicans only succeed so much because they have so much money. However, if Democrats believe that the electorate is so mindless as to support anyone who advertises on television, perhaps it is they who are out of touch.

Despite the prosperity of the Clinton years, Republicans generally are more trusted with the economy. Democrats have only made headway on fiscal issues by imitating Republicans with such phrases as "the end of welfare/ big government/ whatever as we know it." Republican proposals for tax cuts aren't hitting it off with the general electorate, but neither do Democratic calls for nationalization of medicine.

Even on specific issues, the electorate rejects the dogma of both political camps. Take abortion, for example: It is widely believed that Democrats have more popular support. Actually, more Americans (13 percent) believe that abortion should be banned outright than believe that it should be entirely unrestricted (7 percent). A whopping 70 percent of women favor more restrictions of abortions.

In reality, though, neither party has its finger on the pulse of the American people. I am picking on the Democrats here only because they tend to be more deluded than Republicans, but it works both ways. While the Republicans could hold the presidency, Congress and governorships, it's unlikely that they will, because people typically want a divided government.

Most Americans want to keep the checks and balances active, so the Republicans don't go overboard with their more unpopular ideas. The American political motto is that government works best when both parties must consent to legislation before it gets passed. Divided we stand, united we fall.

Whitlock, an IST major, 
remains independent first and foremost. 
He can be reached at me@pariahsight.8m.com.


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