There are two approaches to social interaction (politics): cooperative and competitive and the outcomes of the approaches are nearly inevitable. The choice of methodology is determined by character though it is frequently masked by ideology, religion, and other constructs. The differences in the approaches are basic, the cooperative sees government as a tool for improving the condition of fellow citizens and the competitive sees government as a referee. Those outlooks determine the scale of government, cooperative sees a large government as required and competitive sees small government as all that is required and that larger government interferes with and in the end obstructs the natural progress of market determination.
The size of government is not necessarily related to its power, power is different than reach. Reach involves the scope of governmental interest not its power which is a matter of enforcement methods and sanctions. A government of millions may have considerably less power than a government of thousands or it may have considerably more, size has little to do with the issue. The ability of government to interfere with the lives of its citizens is based on its legal constructs and American Constitutional government is severely limited in that regard.
The article title refers to the decay of the "permanent Republican majority." Within that very statement is the hubris that presages an implosion of an agenda. The irrational assumption is that what is being done that benefits "their" clique is so powerful an argument that even those who do not benefit will be persuaded; it is an unquestioning assumption. The good of the nation as a whole is defined by the narrow gauge of the success of those who thrive under the competitive model. That model contains some very questionable assumptions and appeals to some character qualities that do not fit well within governmental service.
The competitive model assumes that success defines itself, success is derived from smart hard work that is within the reach of any with the willingness. Amassing a fortune or winning an election or achieving an influential position are the outcomes of competition and thereby validate the methods utilized to reach the ends. This outlook can encourage some character defects or appeal to some with them, measuring success by a dollar scale or power reach scale will inevitably lead to corruption. A Congressman who drinks from that pool who is already greedy and egocentric will take bribes, will take advantage of position, will consider himself above the ordinary codes of conduct by right of success. An Administration that adheres to it will see cronyism as the natural outcome of their success, the very power of their clique justifies their special consideration in the awarding of contracts or positions in government. The fact that the rich are becoming richer and the poor, poorer is a natural outcome of competition. This feeds the circle, the success of the rich is assumed to be the good of the nation and thus to be encouraged and any structure that interferes is a detriment.
Using an inaccurate measuring stick guarantees a train wreck, a George W Bush sees his election and re-election as confirmation of his moral authority and his governmental model which justifies his actions. Whatever over-reach is justified by the fact of success in competition, the winning confirms the rightness and fitness of actions. Because ideas are not concrete and cannot be measured by concrete determinants they are devalued, this encourages only policies of action and quick results. Saddam Hussein's Iraq could be militarily smashed in short order, a problem occurs at the end of that conquest, the considered and thoughtful policies required to rebuild and stabilize an entirely foreign culture are neglected. The even larger problem was the inclination that popularizing a war sufficiently to wage it justified the methods of popularization. If propaganda works it must be alright because it beat the competing policy.
At some point the losers in the process will object, they will not only object to losing but also to the corruption involved and that is as fatal politically as possible. Hubris and entitlement are not tied to a political party, but they are the natural outcome of the philosophy of success as a measure of good. There is good to be found in competition, it encourages innovation and effort when practiced with restraint on a level field, but when it becomes the arbiter it fails.
If we lose sight of the fact that the means define the ends and define the actors we begin down the road to corruption and authoritarianism. If you lie, no matter what the ends, you are a liar and the end is a product of lies and corrupted by the process. America's Iraq adventure will fail, the mold was set by the illegitimate justification, none of the players, domestically or Iraqi can escape from the complete lack of WMDs, everyone involved is a byproduct of that fact. al Maliki cannot escape the fact that his existence as PM is due to an American conquest based on a falsehoods, opposition militias justify their bloodshed with the illegitimacy of the occupation, the propaganda of "crusadership" occupation is easy to make. Attempts to reach political rapprochement within Iraq are approached with heavy scepticism of the trustworthiness of the participants based on America's own failure in that.
So here we are, mired in a foreign mess with a Congress that is paralyzed by bitter partisanship on the part of the competitive crowd and with a public losing economic ground and faith in its own government and that public is unhappy. They have been the losers in the competition and they have watched the benefits of a rigged system go to liars, cheats, and sycophants and they will not tolerate it. Those who fear for the American Constitutional experiment forget the capacity of Americans for anger and action. It is to be hoped those capacities will be channeled into peaceful avenues.