Evan Bayh’s Exit and the Failure of Liberal Governance – WSJ.com

Jacob Laksin is a senior writer for Front Page Magazine. He is co-author, with David Horowitz, of The New Leviathan (Crown Forum, 2012), and One-Party Classroom (Crown Forum, 2009). Email him at jlaksin@gmail.com and follow him on Twitter at @jlaksin.


The political retirement of Evan Bayh, at age 54, is being portrayed by various sages as a result of too much partisanship, or the Senate's dysfunction, or even the systemic breakdown of American governance. Most of this is rationalization. The real story, of which Mr. Bayh's frustration is merely the latest sign, is the failure once again of liberal governance.

For the fourth time since the 1960s, American voters in 2008 gave Democrats overwhelming control of both Congress and the White House. Republicans haven't had such large majorities since the 1920s. Yet once again, Democratic leaders have tried to govern the country from the left, only to find that their policies have hit a wall of practical and popular resistance.

Democrats failed in the latter half of the 1960s, as the twin burdens of the Great Society and Vietnam ended the Kennedy boom and split their party. They failed again after Watergate, as Congress dragged Jimmy Carter to the left and liberals had no answer for stagflation. They failed a third time in the first two Bill Clinton years, as tax increases and HillaryCare led to the Gingrich Congress before Mr. Clinton salvaged his Presidency by tacking to the center.

via Failure of Liberal Governance – WSJ.com.

  • Bill

    This is pretty much "Captain Obvious" stuff. The real story is the rising wave of ordinary citizens in movements like the Tea Party. The medias big mistake is that they are looking at the Tea Party as if it were a political party and not what it is. It is literally thousands of local organizations cooperating pretty well at the county and state level but very disorganized at the national level. The initial impact is going to be on local and state political races. The dinosaur media will miss what is going on because they have forgotten that all politics is really local and tea parties are pushing local candidates and in places taking over Republican organizations and the tea parties greatest love and greatest weapon is educaiton. These are people who are reading and discussing ideas, especially the ideas in the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, The Federalist, The Anti-Federalist Papers, Adam Smith, and the list goes on and on. You might take the old rock song they play on CSI as a theme and especially the line "We won't be fooled again!" as the spirit of the movement.

    • Bill

      Actually, I can spell. I just need to start proofing my stuff before I hit the submit button.

  • Armando H.

    The problem is that the TEA partiers are one confused group. These are the people who carry signs that say "Keep your government hands off my Medicare!" They act angry about Wall Street but actually support less regulation on banking and mortgage industries.

    In the case of many states like California, NY, Illinois–these people are exactly right. They've been taxed enough, already. But in areas like banking reform and health care, they should actually be rooting for government (we've seen in these cases already what happens with private "solutions.") Otherwise, they're just being silly. What these silly people don't realize is that in a country of 300 million + there is no such thing as "small government." A meaningless, mythical term. There is "big government" (whom we elect) and "big business" whom we don't. The scales have been tipped in favor of the latter far too long, to the point where they get these misguided populists to do their bidding, against their own interests.