by J.L. Wall

This will hopefully be the only time in my life I have to blog politics during a UK basketball game to get my mind off the pain. (Seriously, Billy Gillispie, listen up: I’m a Cubs fan. October is painful as anything. I know UK football will break my heart. I’m fairly certain Northwestern will do the same. I need this team to win, for the sake of my sanity and faith in mankind.)

Anyway, what I meant to talk about was Ivan Kenneally pondering the future of liberalism during/after the next four years:

“[T]here might also be some occasssion [sic] for a reassessment of contemporary liberalism [. . .] Will this begin a reconsideration of liberalism from within the party that is the steward if its principles? Or will the next four years be characterized by a completely untethered liberalism?”

Quite frankly, I’m skeptical that overreach would result in any more consideration than we’ve yet seen from Congressional Republicans. Steny Hoyer has said that the party is likely to govern from the center, and I guess if I’m in the business of reading too muchinto the words of Obama advisers, I shouldn’t take that with more salt than necessary… but still.

However, here’s an interesting scenario: If the Democrats do overreach in Congress, and their health care proposals, economic fixes, etc., meet with the same fate as much of Clinton’s first two years, and the GOP makes gains (I’m not talking 1994 here; just enough to get them back to where they can stop things easily in the Senate) but it happens by terms of the same “negative landslide” some say we’ve seen here (i.e., we don’t get a “grand new party,” but “more of the same”), then is it possible we could see the Democrats attempting to forge a coalition with libertarian voters in which they are more than just the lesser of two evils?  The stumbling block to any such scenario would be economic policy (this is not surprising): I can envision a potential Democratic opposition to bailouts/bailout-esque policies, and perhaps there will be a Chicago streak to Obama’s economic advisers, but I don’t see any libertarian shift on economics to be more than pragmatic/populist.  And I don’t envision that being strong grounds for a lasting Democratic-Libertarian coalition.

I’m not saying this is particularly likely; I’m just trying to hash out a situation (albeit vague) in which it happens. In fact, I think it’s rather unlikely, because: both parties are likely to be/present themselves as better on civil liberties than the Bush Administration and I expect the GOP’s economic policies to remain more amenable to libertarian-minded voters than the Democrats’. (Foreign policy is less Congressional than Barack Obama’s interactions with foreign leaders; as such, I’m not going to try and predict anything about it just yet.)

OK.  14 point game now, 9 minutes to play.  Going to go back to paying attention; feel free to call me out on blathering if I’ve done that.