Newspapermen used to keep files on major figures, for that inevitable day when the newsworthies shuffle off that final coil. Timely obituaries don’t just “happen.”
Heedless of the danger of a premature obit, today’s journalists seem always ready with an autopsy, even before the corpse cools.
Every few years we endure talk of the death of a major political party. Journalists love this sort of speculation. And apparently it’s so forgettable that it never really sticks to the journalists who trotted out the last false prophecy. In the real world, sociologists study what happens to cults “When Prophecies Fail”; in journalism, the eternal cranking out of copy goes on as if nothing happened.
The Last Democrat, a book produced at the height of the Bill Clinton scandals, argued that Americans would never again elect a Democratic president — Americans, you see, had finally wised up, given up on the old redistributionist racket. Wishful thinking.
The book should be prominently placed on every would-be prophet’s desk. A cautionary title.
Today, the old political rackets have ratcheted up, and Democrats are riding high. Sort of.
So now, after Tuesday’s elections, we hear talk of the death of the Tea Party.
A possibility? Yes. But remember: it was never a real party, and it was never about tea. It was (as near as I could make out) about responsibility. In government.
I can’t see how that idea will ever go out of style.
Though how it will win, that’s harder to envision.
And whether the name will stick with the idea, that’s another matter, too. Tea and revolutions, like obituaries, must be prepared in advance.
This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.