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So-called experts

Posted: November 21, 2013 9:55 a.m.
Updated: November 22, 2013 5:00 a.m.

If you don’t believe that politics changes in a heartbeat, you need look back no further than the past few decades, when pundits and prognosticators predicted with certainty that one political party or the other had died, never again to be resurrected.

Ronald Reagan swept into office in 1980 on the strength of voters who came to be known as Reagan Republicans, many of them former Democrats who found the former California governor’s practical politics and fiscal conservatism appealing. When Reagan’s two terms were up and his vice president, George Herbert Walker Bush, was elected, a new Republican dynasty was declared by so-called political experts. Bush’s election would signal, they declared, a GOP reign that could last for decades.

It lasted a bit shorter than that -- four years, to be exact, until voters turned Bush out of office in favor of Bill Clinton, a young governor who suddenly convinced those experts that yes, the Democratic Party had indeed made a miraculous revival and would probably reign for a long, long time, since Vice President Al Gore was popular and would no doubt keep the White House in Democratic hands.

That didn’t last long, either, and the second Bush -- George W. -- took over. Like his dad, his popularity ratings soared and the pundits again declared that the GOP would rule for the foreseeable future. Bush did manage to win a second term, but then came Barack Obama with his new brand of populism. After easily winning re-election in 2012, political observers declared that Obama had put together a new political coalition that would be hard to topple.

Now, with Obama’s approval ratings having fallen to their lowest level ever, one Democratic lawmaker in Washington wailed earlier this week that if the health care mess didn’t get straightened out, it would be the end of the party. Polls showed that if Obama and Mitt Romney ran again, Romney would win.

The truth, of course, is that political fortunes rise and fall upon the whims of a fickle electorate, and predictions of one party’s dominance or demise are always exaggerated. We’ll wait and see what happens in next year’s mid-term elections, but as for the long-term, don’t believe the so-called experts.

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