The Politics of Stalemate:
Will the Republican-Southern Democratic Coalition Continue?
AT THE foot of Capital Hill stands the newly dedicated Taft Memorial Carillon and, in front of it, a statue of the late Ohio Senator. it is easy to see the carillon and the statue as a monument to the perpetual frustration of a political faction whose hero thrice sought the presidency in vain. Conservative Republicanism built Taft a carillon in death because he never made the White House in life. But perhaps it is too soon !to record the frustration, and the benign face of the statue may yet conceal a canny chuckle.
For the Washington political scene in 1959 was, oddly enough, still dominated in many ways by the spirit of this near-great man who has been dead for half a dozen years. Taft was the only impressive conservative politician of our era, and ours is still a conservative age. The Democratic victory in last year’s Congressional elections gave a deceptively liberal hue to the scene, but under our system the President, and not Congress, defines the issues and the political era. If we have a passive, status quo President, we have passive, status quo government; Congress cannot make it otherwise. Congress can slow down the pace but it cannot speed it up very much. The election of 1958 will have been decisive only if it was the prelude to a liberal victory in next year’s presidential contest. If the conservatives win the presidency again, the stalemate will continue for another four years. The political story of the past year has been the story of the politics of stalemate. The underlying struggle between and within the two parties has been fought over the question of whether the stalemate is to be broken, and if so, how change is to be brought about.
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