You may already have seen Paul Krugman's piece in yesterday's Times - delicious title: "Emerging Republican Minority." Krugman refers to a recent Pew poll showing that the Democrats have opened a wide lead in party identification. But he also points out that other findings in the poll indicate a serious problem developing for a party religiously devoted to an anti-government philosophy:
Consider, for example, the question of whether the government should provide fewer services in order to cut spending, or provide more services even if this requires higher spending. According to the American National Election Studies, in 1994, the year the Republicans began their 12-year control of Congress, those who favored smaller government had the edge, by 36 to 27. By 2004, however, those in favor of bigger government had a 43-to-20 lead.There is simply no evidence that the American people reject the notion of activist government. In fact, the data show that, after years of conservative rhetoric and disastrous conservative government, Americans want competent activist government more than ever.
And public opinion seems to have taken a particularly strong turn in favor of universal health care. Gallup reports that 69 percent of the public believes that “it is the responsibility of the federal government to make sure all Americans have health care coverage,” up from 59 percent in 2000.
Many Republicans still imagine that what their party needs is a return to the conservative legacy of Ronald Reagan. It will probably take quite a while in the political wilderness before they take on board the message of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s comeback in California — which is that what they really need is a return to the moderate legacy of Dwight Eisenhower.The project of the modern conservative movement has been to destroy the political imperatives of the Eisenhower era. Schwarzenegger, turning back to that legacy, also turned his back on the entire conservative movement. He now represents everything the movement is designed to destroy. As long as the conservative movement remains at the wheel of the GOP - and there's no reason to believe it'll surrender control any time soon - the party will be headed in the wrong direction, away from the road to resurrection.