The American political spectrum is an endless pendulum, steadily swinging back and forth from left to right, and back again. The swings usually follow a few election cycles. Why ‘only’ a few election cycles?
You get in office, your party takes control. You get re-elected a few times and you begin to think YOU are bigger than the office.
Controlling Congress is fun while it lasts. You get all your pet projects approved. You get to jerk around all those smug (liberals/conservatives), and they just have to sit there and TAKE IT. The power-rush is exhilarating.
Just ask Newt Gingrich.
Newt is a fairly smart man who thinks he is supremely intellectual. (Now THAT is hubris.) I will not list here the many character flaws that completely destroy his morally superior posturing. Suffice it to say he hasn’t always been the perfect spouse.
The Gingrich-led Republicans turned the Congress upside-down in 1994.
Democrats had run the House & Senate a long time. Many members felt ‘entitled’ to their seats and did not take the challenge seriously. This hubris allowed Republicans to say “Congress is not listening to you and does not share your values”.
Frankly, the Dems deserved the thumping they got. They needed to review their REAL purpose for wanting to lead, and find a better way to deliver that message to the people. (In the animal world this is called ‘licking your wounds’.)
So, the ‘new breed’ Republicans took control with their “Contract with America”. This contract, which every Republican congressman signed, promised to clean up congress with a series of reforms.
Republicans hated how long the Dems controlled Congress, and felt the long tenures led to corruption, so one reform was a promise to limit terms to 6 years.
Not a single one stepped down after six years, essentially proving that power can indeed corrupt. Republicans fell into the trap.
The Bush election in 2000 gave the GOP control of the House, Senate & White House. BONUS: An extremely conservative Supreme Court.
Democrats were virtually powerless to stop what happened next…
– Huge tax breaks for the most wealthy,
– A war with a country that did not attack us
– So much money spent on pork projects that it made traditional liberals blush
– Spying on U.S. citizens (under the guise of ‘protecting’ us).
– Pushing thru a Medicare-drug program that wouldn’t allow Medicare to negotiate for the best drug prices, which…
– Guaranteed the highest imaginable drug costs be dumped right onto the taxpayer.
– To rebuild Iraq, giving friendly ‘no-bid’ contracts to corporations who are buddies of the top White House hierarchy.
– Etc, etc, etc (this list is virtually endless)
Eventually you will need help from people on the other side of the aisle. This is much harder to get if you have been jerking them around for years. Getting kicked in the teeth makes one reluctant to cooperate. Eventually the public gets tired of your posturing and/or the disastrous consequences of unchecked power.
Republicans relinquished their majority, by a very small margin, in 2006. This year the Democratic majority will be made huge, as the Republicans reap the full vengeance of what they have sewn.
And then the pendulum swings back……