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The Dartmouth
June 21, 2024 | Latest Issue
The Dartmouth

Restoring the Balance of Power

With mid-term elections just around the corner, we should all be reminded of how lucky we are to be living in an enlightened, democratic country such as the U.S., and marvel at how seamlessly the American political system operates. Despite the Republican party's near-monopolization of all the branches of our government in recent years, they are not by any means guaranteed such a position permanently. In American politics, whenever any one party acquires too much control over the political apparatus, it is inevitable and natural for the pendulum to swing the other way, bringing elements of the opposing party into power.

The fear of a political party gaining all means of power is a deep-seated American fear that goes all the way back to 1776. The trepidation with which Americans at large regard anything approaching the monarchical type of government against which we rebelled over 200 years ago is not to be underestimated as a powerful animating force in American politics. For example, in 1800, after years of Federalist control of the central government, Thomas Jefferson, a Democratic-Republican, was elected to our highest office. Politicians of that time fully expected his inauguration to be marked by violent upheaval. Such upheaval never materialized. This is the genius of the American system. Americans will not tolerate any one entity wielding too much political power for an extended period of time, and will always facilitate the necessary change of scene. It was apparent then, just as it should be apparent in our current situation.

This should mollify those among us who regard the Bush administration with a little more than the share of fear it is due. Yes, it's true -- the current administration's faults are many. It is corrupt, plagued by cronyism and far too deep in bed with religious extremism for many peoples' taste. It has launched and promulgated an increasingly unpopular war, which has in turn isolated us on the international scene and led to serious economic problems, among them the emergence of a rather sizeable national deficit. However, these facts should serve as comforting to Americans of the left-of-center persuasion. The current administration, through its abrasive approach to American politics, has succeeded in alienating many of its supporters and fragmenting its own party.

It is precisely the excesses of the Bush administration, so roundly loathed by liberals everywhere, that will bring about the much-needed shift in our political reality. However bad George Bush may be -- and I'm sure I would not be at a loss to find people who could go on for hours on end listing his contemptible characteristics -- he will most certainly not be the final chapter in American democracy. For those among us who choose to indulge in paranoid conspiracy theories, be consoled: a Bush dictatorship stands just about as much chance of occurring as an alien invasion. It is a testament to the fortitude of our national character and the brilliance of our particular political system that has prevented this from occurring throughout the 230 years of our existence, and there is far more reason than not to expect that this patter will continue indefinitely.

The fact of the matter is that the Bush administration and the Republican party has acquired far too much power for its own good, and more and more Americans realize this with each passing day. Maybe an administration as repugnant as the current one is exactly what the floundering Democratic party needed -- a spark to ignite its own political fire. With Bush's approval ratings sinking, and with rising stars like Barack Obama flourishing within the Democratic party, it will not be long before the masses of Americans who are dissatisfied with the current situation make their voices heard. If not at these mid-term elections, the political pendulum will swing back around and bring more liberal-minded politicians to power in 2008 -- count on it.