Wolfgang Schaeuble, Finance Minister, Germany. (via BBC)
So, after the Cypriot parliament rejects a bailout plan that would tax their citizen’s savings accounts, the German Minister of Finance warns Cypriots that their banks may never open again.
On Political Analysis and Recent History
Ever since Obama’s re-election last November there has been much discussion about the future of the Republican Party. This discussion has been re-invigorated by the CPAC convention. The main themes of most of these discussions are that the Republicans (due to demographics) are going to have a hard time winning elections unless they change their policies to be more in line with the rest of the country and the Democrats. It is frequently pointed out that the Republicans have lost five out of the last six popular votes for president. More and more, pundits are portraying George W. Bush as an aberration in a Democratic era.
For some perspective let’s look back a few decades. Reagan initiated a period of change within the Republican Party and in America. This led to the dominance of the Republican Party throughout the 1980s. After two terms of Reagan, one for George H. Bush, two for Clinton, and then two for George W. Bush most political discussion (circa 2004-2005) was dominated by the supposed demise and irrelevancy of the Democratic Party. Clinton was just an aberration in a Republican era.
In 2004, the Democrats were deemed all but obsolete and incapable of winning elections. But, then, in 2006, by doing nothing and changing little, they began winning elections. The seeds of the recent Democratic victories were sown by: 1. the changes in the party made by Clinton (by shifting the party to the center Clinton made the party more appealing to a larger segment of the population), and 2. by a growing fatigue with the Republican party (anti-incumbent sentiment and the pendulum effect). In fact, the recent string of Democratic victories-congressional and presidential- owe more to changes in methodology than policy. Obama won two terms not by having new and brilliant ideas, but because he ran an excellent campaign that took advantage of data and technology to target voters and, most importantly, to get younger voters to actually show up at the polls.
So where do the Republicans stand today? The tea party is wreaking havoc on it, and libertarianism is gaining strength within the party, but for the most part the party seems to want to get away from George W. Bush’s big government approach and get back to Reaganism. So, it is unlikely that we will see any major changes from the GOP. Certainly, they may have to moderate some of their positions on social issues like gay marriage, but the biggest changes will simply be in rhetoric. This is evident in some of the speeches given at CPAC. Many have simply said that the recent losses are due to a ‘branding’ problem. Indeed, I think that this sentiment is mostly correct. Certainly, changes in the country and in demography have played a role, but the biggest changes that I will be looking for in the Republican Party is in their campaigns. I expect them to try and copy many of the techniques that Obama used. I also expect that they will be more sucessful when they do so.
So, when you hear pundits and experts pontificating about how the Republican Party is dead or has become some huge joke, take it with a grain of salt. The Clinton administration was once viewed as the final victory of a dying party.
Chávez may have wanted to “pulverize” capitalism, but the president’s stewardship of the Venezuelan economy seems to have helped private firms more than workers. An interactive graphic explains how, during his tenure, the country’s stock market skyrocketed while real wages collapsed.
The Venezuelan stock market is up 870% since 2000, while real wages declined 40%. Apparently socialism also redistributes wealth upward.