Wednesday, November 13, 2002
The Coming Republican Majority-There is a lot of glee in the conservative camp over the seeming disarray in the Democratic Party. Ben's outlining the decline of the party as Pelosi is poised to take over the minority leader's spot. This is a time to actively reach out and explain the benefits of what we call a conservative agenda rather than passively sit back and assume Democrats will implode, morphing into the Green Party and allowing the Republicans free reign at the polls. The national vote, when pruned of third parties, was 53-47 Republican. This is with a popular president and a disoriented Democratic party. While conservatives will crow that this is the first time in over a century that a Republican president picked up House seats in a mid-term election, remember the squeaker that Bush came in with two years ago; there were no coattails to elect freshman congressmen that are then easy prey in two years when they're running by themselves. Instead, the public grew in respect for Bush over the following two years, as he showed intelligence and character that had difficulty showing through the electoral clutter in 2000. However, Republicans need to do more than ride Bush's coattails. I'm seeing the possibility of a bait-and-switch by the Democrats. We're looking at a rather liberal House leadership and a Boston convention in 2004. However, the party liberals might get their comeuppance in 2004, allowing the party to swing back towards the center in 2006 and 2008. The skunking of the Democrats in 1972 led to the more centrist Jimmy Carter and back-to-back whuppins in 1984 and 1988 gave us Bill Clinton. It would be nice if the Democrats went left and stayed left, letting the Republicans waltz to a 60-40 majority. Look for more thoughtful neoliberals to come to the fore in the next half-decade. If the Democratic Party wants to be more like the Green Party, that could wind up being bad news for the Republicans in the long haul. If we start to look at a 65-35 majority for the Republicans, there would start to be room for a centrist Ventura-style party to emerge with neoliberals and centrist Republican mavericks joining forces to form a secular bourgeois party with a shot at a plurality. A Democratic party that at least makes an attempt to appeal to the white middle class keeps a national Independence Party from having the political ecology to form; I don't think the party is dumb enough to run that far to the left. Even if they do, more centrist Democrats could triangulate against the Pelosi Democrats, showing their independence from the liberals of the party. If I might use a British analogy, we're seeing the Democrats looking like Neil Kinnock, the hard-socialist Labour Party leader. It was easy for the Conservatives to beat Kinnock, for the swing voter didn't want him in power. After getting their butt whupped three elections in a row, Labour put up a more moderate face in Tony Blair and won two elections in a row. Baring something unforeseen, it's hard to see the Democrats winning in 2004, since the candidates that are moderate enough to be elected are insufficiently liberal to be nominated. My fear is 2008-will we see the Democrats nominate a Kinnock (Hillary, Daschle, Gephardt, Kerry) or a Blair (Ford, Breaux, Bayh, Lieberman, Miller(dream on, Mark))? Rather than assume that Democrats will keep putting the "Hit Me" sticker on their back and keep nominating liberals, the Republicans should get cracking and work at weaning minorities away from the Democrats by stressing the advantages of free-market economics and strong moral values and showing that they're not the party of Jesse Helms anymore (as if they ever were). Republicans need to show Joe Average that the market works for them, countering the big-government pitches of the Democrats. Republicans need to show that the mildly-devout people that old-school morality is better than the if-it-feels-good-do-it school of amorality. If they do those things well, they can keep the majority well into the next decade. If they don't, they are vulnerable to Democrats coming to their senses and putting an articulate neoliberal in the White House in 2009.
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