One problem that revolutionaries have is that they often are the last to be able to adapt when the revolution happens. I’ve been reading Brad Delong’s blog, and it’s gotten less interesting since he is still bashing Republicans when they really don’t matter much to the health care debate. The big battles are between “Business Democrats” and “Progressive Democrats” with Obama being a “Business Democrat” and the “Progressive Democrats” being the opposition party.
What basically happened in the 1980’s until 2008 is that Reagan put together a coalition of big business, religious conservatives, and Cold War hawks, and that coalition lasted until 2008 when it totally broke apart. After the Cold War, the hawks became neo-conservatives, and the Iraq war destroyed them. The other big realignment is more interesting. After the crash of 2008, there was a huge shift in the interests from big business from the Republicans to the Democrats. If you want to understand the current debates, follow the money…..
Look at who the insurance companies, big pharma, and banks have given money to. It’s not the Republicans, and so the current health care debate is basically an argument within the Democratic Party. It’s even more striking if you look at the trend numbers. Through out the 1990’s and up until the last election, business interests were overwhelming Republican. Now the split is 55-45 favoring Democrats.
This also explains why the Republicans seem “nutty” to anyone that is on the outside. As long as you had the Reagan coalition, you had different people, and so the Republicans had to appear “not nutty” to get the support of different groups. If you have a small group of ideologically similar people, they are going to appear weird to outsiders. In 2000-2006, the Republicans had an incentive to look “sane”, but right now they don’t.