I don’t remember the Jimmy Carter years all that well, but in reading about his term in office the impression I get is that he didn’t have a political base. Essentially, he didn’t have the right friends despite being a Democrat with a Democrat-controlled Congress. Obviously, this is a gross simplification, and I’ll happily be corrected if I have it by the tail instead of the collar.
What brought these thoughts up? One of the things Republican pundits like to point out about Palin is that she shook up the Republican party in Alaska, and it obviously needed shaking. But it makes me wonder if that sort of party-shaking can work in the White House. She seems to have a lot of enemies in Alaska and not many friends, though the voters appear to like her.
Carter got elected, which means that enough voters liked him to put him in. But just having enough voters doesn’t necessarily give you the ability to get things done especially if you’ve set the back of your party up against you.
So, the debate: With either of the major candidates, are we looking at another potential Jimmy Carter presidency, with an elected president who doesn’t have the support of his own party in Congress and who will then flail about ineffectually? Are there important factors in the Carter presidency that preclude it from happening this time? Are parties simply more partisan and therefore more likely to go along with the titular head of the party rather than shutting him or her out?