Animadversions.

The weblog of Joshua Drescher

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11-07-2006

October 18th, 2006 · No Comments · Politics, Rants

We’re in the home stretch running up to the November midterm elections and it’s looking more and more like the Democrats will at least be retaking the House. A 49/49/2 breakdown in the Senate is likely to tilt in favor of the Democrats as Bernie Sanders (I-VT) tends to support Democratic leaders and America’s Grumpiest Independent - Joltin’ Joe Lieberman - has repeatedly said he intends to caucus with the Democrats if and when he is re-elected.

Looking ahead to this seemingly inevitable success, my Democratic friends are - as you might guess - in a pretty good mood (I’m pulling for the Democrats myself, but only because I prefer to have the Legislature and Executive rest in competing hands whenever possible). In the minds of many, this swing away from supporting the GOP is an indication that Americans have somehow “seen the light” and are now willing to give the Left a chance. I’m not terribly convinced that this is the case.

To be sure, polls are routinely showing that people - left, right and center - are fed up with the current state of things, but that doesn’t mean that they’re defecting from the GOP and heading Left to try something new. What seems far more likely to me is that we’re seeing conservative attrition, rather than a serious upswing in support for the Democrats. American conservatives are looking at the performance of the current manifestation of the Republican Party and seeing a lot of broken promises and failures to “make good” on issues they were told were CRITICAL to our success - nay, our very survival - as a people.

The impending failure of the Republican Party in November can - in large part - be blamed on the current Administration’s failure to retain the support of the right side of the political spectrum by being insufficiently dedicated to conservative ideals. To highlight some of their more significant failures:

The Bush Doctrine - It played strongly to hawkish neo-cons, jingoistic NASCAR dads and fundamentalists rooting for the End Times. But what has it accomplished? North Korea is a full-blown nuclear power and its “Axis of Evil” counterparts in Iran are well on their way to joining that club in short order. Iraq has turned into a meat-grinder. We’re extending olive branches to the Taliban in Afghanistan. Osama Bin Laden is releasing new videos more often than Justin Timberlake. Tough talk has a limited shelf-life and conservatives have started to think that Bush is all swagger and no substance in that regard. Failing to actively support Israel when they tried to apply the Doctrine themselves recently certainly didn’t help.

Immigration - To hear the Right tell it, you’d think there was an armed battalion of Mexicans at the border, just waiting to annex the defenseless people of Texas any moment now. The GOP has spent the past half decade whipping conservatives into a frenzy about the impending destruction of the American Way of Life at the hands of illegal aliens. We need to wall off the entire Southwest, they say. We need troops on the border, they say. We need unmanned, laser-guided drones that can vaporize whole families of Mexicans from outer-space, they say. And yet we see… very little. A handful of national guard troops sent down as a token offering, a few miles of chicken wire here and there and the drones? Well, we’re too busy employing those ineffectively overseas at the moment.

Social Issues - The Right has been hammering the “traditional values” wardrum for well over a decade now - letting gay people marry will force every Christian couple in America to allow a team of tanned, hairless cabana boys frolic in their children’s bedrooms! Allowing stem-cell research is a slippery slope towards Al Gore forcing us to burn emission-free infants as fuel for our hybrid vehicles. Unplugging Terry Schiavo will allow the Left to launch the elderly and the infirmed into the Sun so that they can free up funds to buy more child pornography for our public libraries! The entire moral fabric of America is hanging by a thread - a thread the Democrats can’t wait to cut! And yet we see very little “progress” when it comes to this core set of issues. In fact, Bill Clinton was the last president to make any significant efforts towards helping the conservative social cause when he signed the Defense of Marriage Act into law ten years ago.

Yes, the Iraq War is also playing a significant role in ousting the GOP from power (mostly by galvanizing the opposition party’s supporters), but it is not - on its own - sufficient to do the job. And let’s not fool ourselves into thinking that most voters on the right care much about Foleygate or Jack Abramoff or the status of prisoners in Gitmo. No, the outcome of the November election will spring from one major source - conservative voters staying home.

For the Democrats, this will be a precarious victory. They will have the opportunity to use it to build momentum heading into 2008, but they’ve shown for the past 12 years that they lack the ability to really follow-through when it comes to turning small victories into longterm success. Over the next two years, the Republicans will do their best to make the Democrats responsible in the eyes of voters for every failure in the ongoing War, every hiccup in the economy and every social woe that Americans face. The Democrats need to be ready to actually stand up for themselves when this happens and to do that they’ll actually need to have ideas (rather than mere “positions”) that they can articulate and defend in ways that people can understand and believe in.

It goes without saying that the Republicans will spend this “time out” regrouping and evaluating their failure in this election. One of two responses seems likely:

1) A fanatical swing to the right intended to “win back” the confidence they lost amongst conservative voters. This would likely be marked by a Contract With America-style platform loaded with hot-button issues that are sensitive to the highly vocal (and influential) minority on the Far Right.

2) An abandonment of fringe-pandering issues like Constitutional marriage amendments, stem-cell testing bans, extremist “Immigration reform” and blurring the separation between church and state in favor of a policy of small government fiscal conservatism, tax reduction and governmental responsibility.

If Rudy Giuliani is the GOP’s nominee for President in 2008, you’ll know that #2 won out.

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