The "major" parties have switched places again
I'm talking about in their outward image, not in actual principle (of which they have none). Consider their general assumed identities, and compare w/ their self-image now.
-GOPers lamented the ruling of sodomy laws as unconstitutional as arbitrarily stepping on the democratic process, w/ the less zealous among them stating that while the laws themselves were obviously wrong they felt that the states should've amended them out gradually on their own. On the current flaps over the ten commandments displays they're speaking of it as mere expression of the public will -- in short, "they have up a christian monument because they are christians, where is the problem?" -- and accuse the opposition of overruling a majority (more like a plurality really), as if majorities were utterly inviolable. What has come to stick out vaguely from their rhetoric claims that they are simply defending what the masses are already doing themselves.
-Meanwhile, Democrats criticized, in California, a measure that couldn't be more textbook-definition democratic if you tried. This has mushroomed out into an open view that the reason they aren't in power is because the public is ignorant; in this view, theoretically, if the majority knew their interests properly we would have a Democrat majority in congress and a Democrat in the whitehouse.
Not discouraging this development either is the financing of their campaigns. Despite the bi-partisan nature of campaign finance reform, Democrats have been in the past more reliant on soft-money donations than the Republicans, and are now still depending mostly on large donations. Note that in the 2004 campaign so far, of all of the Democrats the only contender obtaining a substantially larger share of funds from sub-$200 donations than from contributions over $2000 is Dean (Clark's ratio is virtually even). Bush's command of donations over $2000 is not much larger than that of John Edwards.
So in their own eyes, the Republicans apparently favor majoritarian democracy, whereas the Democrats, more scrutinizing of majority rule, want a republic, if not an aristocracy. To the naked eye of the average voter, this would suggest (since most believe that the US is a majoritarian democracy) a lean towards the republicans, which is what has occured. However, this is not the end of debate, but the beginning of another one...
Under democracy one party always devotes its chief energies to
trying to prove that the other party is unfit to rule--and both
commonly succeed, and are right...
If this is how the discussion has broken down, then the proper question goes beyond the parties themselves even. Both are inadaquete in that their tactics take for granted a condition of mass confusion. What we, ideally, need to figure out is which interpretation of popular government we seriously want, before any of these other issues are resolved. Quick fixes may adhere for the short term, but in the long run we're all dead -- dead wrong, that is.