In today’s Washington Post, liberal columnist Eugene Robinson has one of his typical tirades about how evil and stupid the Republican party and its standard barriers are.  Not surprisingly, he lays the blame for the current economic situation squarely on the shoulders of the current Administration and the “free market,” ignoring the reams of regulations that distorted economic decisions of individuals, banks, and corporations. 

No doubt there are many reasons to criticize the current Administration and the Republican Congress that ruled until 2006., which abandoned the principle conservative belief in limited government.  This Administration expanded government entitlement programs (Medicare prescription drug benefits), backed a bloated farm bill, poured money into federal education programs (in spite of scant evidence that any of this new money does any good), and engaged in much other destructive, unnecessary spending and federal expansion. 

Yet Robinson’s finally denunciation of the Republican party could just as easily be applied to the Democratic party:

When Ronald Reagan was president, I had a sense of what ideas and principles his party stood for. When Newt Gingrich and his “Contract with America” brigade took Washington by storm in 1994, I knew what they believed — loopy though it was — and what they hoped to accomplish. I defy anyone to give a coherent explanation of what today’s Republican Party, under George Bush and now John McCain, wants to do except perpetuate itself in power.

When a political party reaches the point of lurching incoherence, the most effective cure is a good, long spell in the wilderness. Americans should help Republicans out by sending them home to get their act together.

The thing is, people do know what the Republican party is supposed to stand for, even when its leaders do a terrible job implementing that vision.  The Republican party, for better of worse, is supposed to represent conservatives and economic libertarians by limiting goverment power, embracing market competition, preserving economic liberty, lowering taxes, reducing spending and regulations, etc. 

What does the Democratic party stand for?  It’s considered a huge gaffe when Senator Obama admits that he believes in the redistribution of wealthy and the media considers it out of bounds slander to call someone a liberal.  That’s because Americans generally don’t embrace socialized medicine and massive government programs designed to take from some and give to others.  Senator Obama tries to disguise every new spending program as a “tax cut” because he knows that Americans don’t like the idea of the federal welfare programs.

In 2004, right before the election, I was on CSpan’s Washington Journal, and a caller asked the question that lead to a discussion of what the parties stood for.  I had no problem rattling off the basic principles that the GOP was supposed to represent, and even then highlighted that party leaders often stray from those principles, but they remain the party’s backbone.  My Democratic counterpart answered something to the affect of it wasn’t her job to come up with a platform or agenda for the Democrats.  Democrats today have no better answer — they call themselves the party of fiscal responsibility and will allude to more “fairness” in the tax code, but shy away from actually enunciating a true vision of government.  Perhaps because that’s because they don’t have one, or don’t want to admit how radical it is.