One-Party Rule

In recapturing control of the Senate and increasing their majority in the House, Republicans both defied midterm election history and threw the Democratic Party into a soul-searching tailspin. President George W. Bush, who campaigned strenuously in key states in an effort to "nationalize" what are typically local elections, has been given credit for this triumph. Assigning blame among the Democrats is more difficult, although House Majority Leader Richard Gephardt has resigned and called on his party to reassess its political strategy. The Democrats lack a national spokesperson of real stature as well as a cogent alternative to Republican positions on taxes, national defense, or cultural values. There are many things wrong with the Democratic Party, but whatever its faults, the nation can’t afford an opposition party in disarray at a time of war and economic uncertainty. The sooner it is back on its feet, the better.

Bush’s political genius can be exaggerated. To be sure, he took risks in so visibly championing Republicans in close races, but he had a strong hand to play. In the aftermath of September 11, 2001, the president’s popularity has soared as the American people have remained insecure and uncertain about the nature of the threat we face. In this context, the White House’s relentless campaign to turn the election into a referendum on the "war against terror" and the threatened war against Iraq appears to have...

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