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Is the Party Over?
Round Three: Concluding Remarks


In my opening statement I pointed out that 370 elected Democrats have switched and become Republicans since Clinton was elected in November of 1992. Phone calls and a letter to the Democratic National Committee asking how many Republicans have switched to Democrat have won the reply, "We aren't counting." This reminds me of people who are losing at tennis asking, "We aren't really keeping score, are we?" I put more stock in individuals who -- in their own towns, cities, and states -- bet their lives and careers that they are moving toward the winning team. Why bet on the forecasts of pundits who risk nothing if they are wrong? In round two of this exchange Chris Caldwell asked how many Democrats have become Republicans since the 1996 elections. Well, let's count. There were 2l4 switchers in the forty-eight months before the November, 1996, election (the one Caldwell finds so traumatic for the GOP) and 156 in the eighteen months since. This means that prior to the November, 1996, election an average of 4.45 Democrats switched to the GOP each month, and after November, 1996, fully 8.66 Democrats switched and became Republicans. The trend to the GOP is accelerating.

Also, since last we exchanged words on this topic Herman Badillo, the first Puerto Rican elected to Congress, has stood beside Rudy Guiliani in New York and become a Republican.

What Do You Think?
Join the debate in The Body Politic.

Stanley Greenberg believes that I should put more weight on the presidential-election results of 1992 and 1996. Greenberg urges us to discount the fact that thirty-two out of fifty states have Republican governors -- and that more than seventy-five percent of Americans live in those thirty-two states. We are further to discount the Republican majorities in the House and Senate and the growing strength of the GOP at the state legislative level -- there are now more than 500 more state reps and state senators than when Clinton won in 1992. Even liberals acknowledge that the Republican Party will increase its number of governors and senators this November.

But let's ignore the trends at the state and congressional level. Let's examine Bill Clinton's results in 1992 and 1996. In 1992, Bill Clinton won forty-three percent of the presidential vote. Less than Dukakis in 1988. Then, in 1996, with peace, prosperity, millions in illegal campaign contributions, and running against the last pre-Reagan Republican, Clinton won a whopping forty-nine percent. Not even a majority.

Greenberg argues that Clinton is like Reagan. No. Not even close. Reagan won with fifty percent in a three-way race in 1980, sweeping eleven senators and thirty-plus House members in with him. Reagan won re-election with sixty percent of the vote.

Clinton is more like Eisenhower, the Republican who validated the New Deal and allowed the Democrats to take the House and Senate. Clinton opposed welfare reform and was forced to sign the Republican welfare-reform bill. Clinton opposed Medicare reform and signed the Republican bill after demagoguing the same bill before the election. Clinton opposed the cut in the death tax and the capital-gains tax cut and signed both. Clinton opposed the IRS-reform bill and now says he will sign the Republican bill. Clinton signed Freedom to Farm.

And last, despite Clinton's rhetoric the Democratic Party remains the party of labor-union bosses, rich trial lawyers, corrupt big-city machines, welfare bureaucrats -- those who view the proper role of government as taking money from those who earned it and giving it to the politically well-connected. This group that controls the party purse-strings forces Clinton and the Democrats to support higher taxes, oppose tax cuts, enact such stealth taxes as the "Gore Tax" (now appearing on everyone's phone bill), and oppose tort reform (desperately needed by the high-tech community Gore claims to support).

And there is more good news for Republicans. The 1998 elections will determine who controls redistricting at the state level in all fifty states, and Republicans are prepared to increase their number of governships. This will lock in control of the House of Representatives for the GOP for another ten years. Cheers.

What do you think?

See what other readers have to say about the future of the Republican Party in the Body Politic forum -- and share your views.

Roundtable Overview

Introduction and opening questions by Jack Beatty

Round One: Opening Remarks -- posted on June 18, 1998

Round Two: Responses -- posted on June 25, 1998

Round Three: Concluding Remarks -- posted on July 2, 1998

Grover Norquist is the president of Americans for Tax Reform and a close advisor to the Speaker of the House, Newt Gingrich.

Copyright © 1998 by The Atlantic Monthly Company. All rights reserved.
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