Curt Smith: A realignment in American politics is coming

  • Comments
  • Print

Curt SmithMost change in American public life is incremental, filled with fits and starts, pushes and pulls. From our founding to the Civil War, we battled, politically, over incremental issues such as internal improvements and a national bank even as we refought the Revolutionary War with Great Britain.

Then came the Civil War, which changed everything, to end the great evil of slavery constraining our Republic. That was transformational change for the good, although it centralized power in the national government.

We then moved along, building railroads and changing our economy from agriculture to manufacturing, step by step by step. Again, we argued about banks, so Congress created the Federal Reserve. Not transformational at all.

Then came the economic implosion we call the Great Depression. That was transformational, changing politics and everything else, giving Democrats an edge that continues to this day. And again, more power flowed to Washington, D.C.

It’s notable that neither World War I, World War II nor even the Cold War of the past century created truly transformational change.

But something is underway in America today. Are technological shifts, combined with a pandemic and widespread dissatisfaction with politics, creating a political milieu that could make the election in nine months a transformational election? Or will it be another incremental change?

All indicators are it will favor Republicans, especially in the U.S. House. But will we see a transformational change brought on by COVID and the surprisingly poor showing of President Joe Biden and national Democrats?

The president’s abysmal poll numbers and the public’s sour mood leave little to debate about Democrats’ standing as we head into the midterm election Nov. 8. The question is the scale, and there are indications the “shellacking” awaiting Democrats might be more than an incremental change.

But will it be transformational, a once every 70-to-100-year realignment.

That is this columnist’s belief. The public, a broad nonpartisan majority, is fed up with mandates, dictates and hypocrisy. The overreaching bureaucratic state might have a case with the voter if its rule were working. But government is failing at every level.

And how about health care? Can you figure out the bill? Fifty-plus years of growing federal involvement in health care has created complexity, cost-shifting, doctor burnout and an opaque finance system that is immoral.

We cannot get straight information on COVID from our government, but you can get free tests and masks after the need passes, while the national debt soars. The border is porous, and the administration callous to enforcing immigration laws. It is OK that the supply chain is tangled, because true change would eliminate union jobs at the ports.

The bet here is that the American public has reached a tipping point, with school closures and teacher-union obstinance as the catalyzing events. There is no particular fondness for Republicans—they just are not in charge during this dark time.

The voter will not consciously consider that the politicians—including the courts—have aggregated power in the national government and then ducked responsibility. This has emboldened the permanent government and required the courts to take on matters beyond their intended purview.

No, voters just want more freedom. They want the freedom that is their birthright back. Most of our problems are resolved by more freedom, not more government. That is the fundamental miscalculation of this president and the national Democrats. We will know in November how costly that miscalculation was.•


Smith is chairman of the Indiana Family Institute and author of “Deicide: Why Eliminating The Deity is Destroying America.” Send comments to

Click here for more Forefront columns.

Please enable JavaScript to view this content.

Story Continues Below

Editor's note: You can comment on IBJ stories by signing in to your IBJ account. If you have not registered, please sign up for a free account now. Please note our updated comment policy that will govern how comments are moderated.

6 thoughts on “Curt Smith: A realignment in American politics is coming

  1. Ah yes, the freedom to go bankrupt from a car accident and the resulting medical bills.

    The freedom to drink polluted water and breath dirty air.

    The freedom to work two jobs to make ends meet.

    Stop whining about wanting freedom as a performance to your donors and offer concrete alternatives.

    For instance, immigration. The right dropping their refusal to expand immigration would solve a whole lot of problems. We need the workers and legal immigrants can pay taxes while here on a zero tolerance policy. However, it’s more important that we keep “those people” out of America. We’d rather have inflation and businesses unable to find workers than more brown people. How sad is that?

    1. As usual, Joe, you’re far off base. AFAIK, the people we seek to keep out of America are those who enter illegally. Enough of your nonsense that they are needed to do jobs “Americans don’t want to do.” Why should Americans gaming the welfare system want to go to work? Have you ever heard of tough love? It is tough, yet it builds character.

      We have record inflation because Biden and Company thought it a good idea to print money to buy the votes and power they so desperately crave because they couldn’t earn an honest dollar in the private sector if their miserable lives depended on it….all the while saddling future generations with a National Debt that now exceeds 30 trillion dollars.

    2. You forget so soon, Bob. Republicans only care about deficits when there is a Democratic president. Last time they had all the levers of power they blew up the deficit with their tax cuts and the lie of trickle down economics. Then they lose an election and pretend to be serious fiscal conservatives. Why do you keep falling for the same sucker’s act they give you every few years?

      Immigration is what keeps America growing. Trump was a fool to restrict legal immigration and also do heartlessly cruel things like rip kids away from parents to scare them away from coming. (Totally not Christian, btw.)

      We need workers. I’d rather have someone hungry to be in America than assume that someone on welfare is magically going to develop a work ethic and start their own business if you kick them off assistance. There’s a reason they’re not employable and not working… they either need re-skilling or the jobs they’re eligible for don’t pay any better than being on government assistance. So, you up for spending more on education or increasing the minimum wage?

    3. Quote: There’s a reason they’re not employable and not working… they either need re-skilling or the jobs they’re eligible for don’t pay any better than being on government assistance.

      More to the point, Joe, is the unchanging human nature you refuse to acknowledge: If you can live off the dole, why work?

      And if I’m not mistaken, the federal deficit more than doubled under Obama’s rein…doubled, mind you.

    4. I fully acknowledge it… but it’s not about the money, Bob.

      Why kill yourself for an amount of money you can’t live on anyway if you can get the same amount doing nothing? Why even try to get a low-end job that likely won’t make you a full time employee anyway (to keep you off benefits) when all you get for your effort is booted for assistance?

      You want to encourage people to get out on the tightrope and work? Ok, stop taking the net down underneath them and telling them that splattering on the floor is just tough love. This is why I think we need to disconnect healthcare from employment, and maybe a universal basic income floor is the way to go. Blow up welfare as we know it and just give people money and they have the responsibility to make good choices. Just noodling.

      Deficits – let me guess, Obama was supposed to save his way through the recession he inherited? I don’t sit around and complain about how much FDR contributed to the deficit from 1941 to 1945. We had other priorities. What I read after the last recession was that Republicans made the recovery worse with their austerity measures.

      The time to spend is when we are in recession, the time to save is when times are good. Right now, when times are good, Republicans decide to give the rich a big tax cut while the middle class gets a few dollars now and a big deficit they’ll pay for later. Get back to me when a politician proposes both cutting services AND raising taxes, that might be the first politician who is actually serious about the deficit.

  2. Both Democrats and Republicans have been negligent to update immigration laws. There has been no serious, genuine effort by either party to change antiquated immigration law to improve a broken system that needs serious improvements. We have reached a new high of corruption in government as congressional representatives take office with modest wealth and in a few short years have vastly increased personal wealth. Many existing laws are completely ignored. Protestors rioting and looting not being held to account, a new form of organized crime, “smash and grab” elicits yawns and is ignored by political leaders, car-jacking and other felonious crimes increase rapidly, violent attacks on law enforcement increases dramatically, and increasing numbers of prosecutors across America look the other way. Why should we expect elected leaders to update immigration laws when many other existing laws, just like our immigration laws, are completely ignored. At the same time, firearms and ammunition sales have increased dramatically across all demographic segments. Citizens from all socioeconomic groups and ethnic backgrounds are buying the means to protect themselves, and many are getting trained to do so at the same time. Certainly not surprising as most practice a common sense approach of “if governments won’t take prudent measures to control violent crime, I must take measures to protect the personal safety of myself and my family”. To the point of this article, I don’t see transformational change coming, because even if Republicans run the boards, they will squander that mandate as they always have. They will maintain the status quo of debate and gridlock as a means to feather their beds and amass more personal wealth, the same as Democrats. Not much will change at all.