Sunday, September 03, 2006

The Great War and Modern Memory

Since everyone is intent on drawing historical parallels these days, Jonathan Chait produces a solid one in his Los Angeles Times (registration required) column: the 2006 midterm elections and the First World War.
Despite being called a "world" war, the vast majority of fighting from 1914-1918 took place in a relatively limited space. The same is true of the 2006 elections. Collectively, they are a national election, but for most Americans, the fight will take place "over there." The battle for control of the Senate will take place mostly within five states where Republicans, who hold a five-seat advantage, look vulnerable: Montana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and Missouri. Democrats lead in the first four and appear close to a tie in Missouri. To win the Senate outright, the Democrats would have to sweep those states and win one more, most likely Tennessee, a conservative state where the Republican has retired, or Virginia, a moderately conservative state where incumbent Republican George Allen is in a a tight race with former Reagan official-turned-Democrat James H. Webb.

A pretty interesting argument, but I can't quite swallow his conclusion. "Democrats are probably far too giddy about what they can accomplish if they win in November. They aren't going to be able to stop the war in Iraq, and they won't banish pork-barreling or back-scratching. But that's OK. Woodrow Wilson didn't make the world safe for democracy, but he did manage to keep a pretty noxious regime from dominating a continent." Actually there is a compelling case that Wilson helped pave the way for two regimes far more noxious than Imperial Germany to dominate Europe.

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