Magazine article Insight on the News

Everyone Agrees on One Point: Voters Are Cantankerous in 1994

Magazine article Insight on the News

Everyone Agrees on One Point: Voters Are Cantankerous in 1994

Article excerpt

The college resembled a priesthood which had lost the secret of its mysteries, and patiently stood holding the flickering torch before cold altars, until God should vouchsafe a new dispensation of sunlight."

Thus wrote Henry Adams of Harvard College in the energetic early years of the 19th Century The historian was using Harvard as an example of an institution overwhelmed by a fresh cultural current.

There's another forlorn priesthood out there today, more extensive than a college faculty. Liberals and Democrats (they're pretty much the same) are stunned by the way the political world is spinning. The tribe of opinion leaders, which is to say the most passionate liberals, is sharing the apprehension of the Democratic pols. They fear that when the votes are counted, there'll be - in the words of one of our minor anthems - a whole lotta shakin' going on.

Is it conceivable that Teddy is puffing toward oblivion in Massachusetts; that Dianne Feinstein, a colorbearer in the vaunted "Year of the Woman," could be banished from Jenkins Hill so soon after charging up its heights; that the Speaker from Spokane may be ordered brusquely to get on home?

Is it possible in 1994 that Republicans might gain control of one or both houses of Congress? Aside from about 20 minutes during the Gipper's time when the Senate had a GOP majority, such a phenomenon is as rare as a golf-playing goose.

Those who read political tea leaves agree that this is not a time to be wearing the Democratic colors. Congressional candidates left-of-center are straining to convince constituents that while the name Bill Clinton vaguely sounds familiar, why, no, they can't recall having had the pleasure of meeting the fellow - and certainly did not support his agenda, no siree.

Political predictions are, to be sure, like John Nance Garner's characterization of the vice presidency - not worth a bucket of warm spit (in the sanitized version). It is wen to be skeptical about the euphoria that's infecting parts of the GOR The voting booth is a profoundly intimate place and casting a ballot involves head and heart, not to mention viscera.

There'll be Republican gains, likely above the mid-term norm. Politicians who agree on little else will concede that there's something different going on out there, that voters are in a cantankerous mood.

While it is quite clear that liberalism - as ideology and as political practice - ain't what it used to be, a good deal of its creed has been implanted in our institutions in the post-World War II era. …

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