The Corner

Tactics vs. Strategy

“Why the Democratic Party is Doomed,” reads the encouraging headline on Richard Miniter’s excellent article in Forbes, and oh how one would love to believe. The demise of the nation’s oldest criminal racket is a thing devoutly to be wished, especially in its post-McGovern, hard-left incarnation, which bears more resemblance to the party of Boss Croker (since the mid-19th century, the norm) than to the party of Scoop Jackson (the aberration).

The Democratic Party, as we have known it for the past 70 years, is now in its last days.

Yes, the House Republicans may raise the debt ceiling for a mix of spending cuts and revenue raisers. Yes, Barack Obama may win the 2012 presidential contest. Yes, bureaucrats and judges will continue to impose new and costly regulations on the economy.

But it doesn’t matter. The long-term trends are almost all bad news for the left wing of the party…

The Democrats are… largely a party of unions, government workers and retirees, “green” industries, “entitlement” payees, professors, teachers and social-change activists — all of whom require government payments in one form or another. 

Miniter’s theory is that the center of this coalition, forged in the New Deal, cannot hold, and as the welfare state begins to collapse under the weight of its own dead hand, the party will fragment: Unions, federal workers, the media, the professoriat, teachers, trial lawyers, environmentalists, abortion “providers,” even the porn industry (a right regular rogue’s gallery of special interests) will all suffer in the emerging post-Great, Broke Society.

Which brings me to my point — instead of simply noting this information, those legions of Republican “strategists” I see on TV all the time ought to be using Miniter’s categories as categorical imperatives to be fragmented, fractured, and smashed. To use a Marxist term, the Democrats’ internal contradictions need to be ruthlessly exploited.

But what we have instead of strategists are tacticians — mid-level officers whose noses are buried in the proximate battles (electoral bean-counting, debt ceiling, DOMA, gay marriage, Libya, etc.), to whom the idea of actually taking Vienna and ending the war is beyond their pay grade. But winning small skirmishes and even a few pitched battles won’t get us inside the Ringstrasse

What the GOP needs to do — if it’s really serious about victory, and not simply complicit in the cozy racket known as Washington, Inc. — is to start strategic planning at the national level about how to sunder the Democratic party. The two-party system may be here to stay, but there’s nothing in our history that says it must always be the same two parties; just ask a Federalist or a Whig, if you can find one.

If the party of Alexander Hamilton and John Adams can disappear, why not the party of Aaron Burr and Boss Tweed? Whatever replaces it has got to be an improvement.

Michael Walsh — Mr. Walsh is the author of the novels Hostile Intent and Early Warning and, writing as frequent NRO contributor David Kahane, Rules for Radical Conservatives.