I don't think Professor Bainbridge is quite right in claiming that " The era of small government conservatism is over." (Nor are Donald Sensing and others.) Instead, what I think we're going to see is a fundamental realignment of the two political parties, a process that will be much more rapid if the Democrats manage to get annihilated in November. As I wrote over a year ago (inspired by a similar post by Robin Goodfellow):
The point is that eventually the population will get tired of hearing the debates that the parties want to have, and will dump the parties altogether. For example, both parties are strongly behind the "War on Drugs", but a good portion of the population (maybe not quite a majority) thinks that this so-called war is a sham and a waste of money. Another example is social security... everyone knows it's not sustainable, but neither party has the guts to actually face the problem.A sizable portion of the population -- particularly among the youth -- still wants a small, limited government. I think it's a mistake ti discount that and conclude that neither party will attempt to give it to them. My perception is that libertarian ideas are on the rise.
So, what's going to happen? I like Robin's conclusion and basically agree that the parties will re-form into a basically libertarian party and a basically statist party. The real question is, which goes which direction?
Also, I wish I could have found a way to use the word "basically" a few more times.
Francis W. Porretto has more thoughts on the matter, pointing out that no single party is large enough for everyone, no matter what "Big Tent" approach the Republicans are taking this year.
There’s also this: Success breeds its own competition. Electoral success is no exception. There are no strategies or tactics available to the Republicans that are not available to the Democrats as well. If the GOP somehow avoided fissioning due to the “Big Tent,” they would still be vulnerable to the Democrats’ fervent attempts to “steal their voters back.” There is no reason to believe, given the number and magnitude of the differences among Americans on substantial puiblic-policy issues, that the Democrats would not rise from ignominy and become competitive once again.Excellent, and as I've said before, I look forward to a day when our country has two parties that both make compelling arguments for my vote.