There is a natural rhythm that usually governs politics. And it suggests that 2010 will be a Republican year.
But not so fast.
Arthur Schlesinger Jr. wrote The Cycles of American History about those political rhythms.
In recent years – as both parties have migrated to their political extremes – the cycle has become more volatile.
After Republican dominance in the 1980s – they won three straight presidential elections – the country went Democratic in1992, then sharply Republican in 1994, then Democratic again in 1996 and 1998.
Then came Bush and two good Republican cycles in 2002 and 2004. Then two Democratic cycles in 2006 and 2008 – and Obama.
The reason is simple. Both parties – either quickly or eventually – overreach their mandates. And the voters pick the other party to bring things back to the middle, where neither party has its center of gravity any more.
So what could keep 2010 from being a Republican year? The answer: Republicans.
This could be a replay of 1998. That should have been a Republican year, coming after Clinton’s reelection and his Monica Lewinsky impeachment scandal.
But Republicans – led by Newt Gingrich – overplayed their hand. Voters decided that the GOP was more interested in its power than their problems.
Democrats – including John Edwards in North Carolina – won big.
Republicans’ stridency, negativity and hypocrisy today stun me. But they don’t bother me. I hope they keep it up. It’s the Democrats’ best hope.