Left v. Right in '04
Many conservative political analysts suggest that the Democrat Party has all but imploded – and that President George W. Bush will coast to re-election in November. The analysts around our editorial shop, however, don’t fall in line behind such soporific prognostication. Instead, we’ll remain vigilant. Straight-line forecasting is almost invariably wrong by dint of exaggeration, as actors with influence and a stake in the outcome typically move to mitigate any negative effects on their expected position. Accordingly, we’ll view with a jaundiced eye any predictions of a Demo demise, no matter which of its presidential pretenders is anointed.
The Demo’s greatest strength (in some respects also their greatest weakness) is their tried-and-true divide-and-conquer strategy – divide the nation up into aggrieved “victims” and special-interest constituencies, and conquer Republicans by promising a Nanny-State handout to counter the perennial conservative solution of a private-sector hand-up.
Handouts, it seems, are an easier sell than hand-ups.
Democrats have, for decades, structured their “ends justify the means” campaigns around discontent and deceit. As a result, their legions of lemmings are ushered off the cliff by pseudo-intellectual “progressives” – those with a visceral hatred for George Bush and just about anything else to the right of Dennis “Department of Peace” Kucinich.
These Demo-gogues hate the military, and they hate the idea of defending our nation against such enemies as Jihadi terrorists – much less without UN permission. Indeed, they hate the very idea of spending money on a missile-defense system, when the same money could instead be earmarked for lemming-luring largesse. Of course, to ensure an adequate supply of largesse, they also hate tax cuts.
Demo-gogues hate religious zealots, too – a “zealot” being defined as anyone who acknowledges the existence of a Supreme Being – as well as “rich” folks, rural folks, suburban folks, conservative black folks, gun-owning folks, private and home-schooling folks who undermine the NEA’s propaganda machines, SUV-driving folks, and pretty much any folks that have anything to do with free enterprise – especially those affiliated with small companies.
Most of all, though, Demo-gogues hate haters – a “hater” being defined as anyone who dares challenge their Left-constituency agenda – especially those hateful heterosexual white males and traditional family folks who’d rather celebrate Christmas than “diversity.” The Demo-gogues hate young abstinent folks and little pre-birth babies, too, as well as anything that threatens their eco-theological idolatry. ANWAR oil exploration and nuclear-energy development are hateful things indeed, as is the very notion that global warming may be the result of natural geologic and atmospheric cycles rather than the burning of fossil fuels. (We at The Patriot Post are actually quite pleased with the consistency of our thermonuclear furnace – given that it heats our planet from a distance of 93,000,000 miles.)
This, then, is the house that hate built; the house where political campaigns are built around what is bad rather than what is good.
On the Republican side of the campaign, there’s a mixed bag of strengths and weaknesses under the Bush banner. On the one hand, his great strength is national security and defense – especially progress in the war on terror and the liberation of Iraq and Afghanistan. On the other hand, his great weakness has been runaway domestic spending – this in spite of the GOP’s platform rhetoric advocating limited government. The other strengths and weaknesses of the Bush juggernaut depend on whether you’re a moderate or a conservative.
The absence of a Republican challenger in the primaries allows President Bush to make his appeal to the center. This is a luxury he didn’t have when running against John McCain in 2000, but these moderate swing voters are essential to his re-election prospects. Mr. Bush’s M.O. for appealing to centrist voters is plain to see: Adopt the pet issues historically held dear by Democrats (who never really advanced the issues, but held them for political fodder), and give them a Republican spin. These would include Medicare prescription-drug coverage for seniors, mammoth funding increases for public education (while abandoning his insistence on private educational vouchers), and vast expansions of deficit spending.
While the President may be accused of cutting ties with his conservative base, it would be more accurate to say that this administration’s policies have been decidedly…indecisive. For instance, while the President has swung to the center on a number of issues, he has in some cases taken a more conservative tone: three successive tax-cut packages, defense revitalization, scrapping the economically devastating (and illegal) steel tariffs imposed early in his administration, thankfully shunning the Kyoto Protocol, banning partial-birth abortion, and defending heterosexual marriage.
Another key factor in President Bush’s prospects for re-election will be the ongoing economic recovery, specifically the GDP-growth rate and unemployment figures compared to January, 2001. One potential problem for the President is the high percentage of structural (permanent) versus cyclical (temporary) job loss from the recent recession in comparison to previous economic downturns. This reality will make it especially difficult to achieve, between now and election day, employment numbers comparable to those at the time of his inauguration.
Equally crucial to the President’s second-term hopes is the response of his conservative base to last week’s immigration-reform proposal – a response which has thus far proved decidedly negative. However, if the positive shifts in public opinion in Texas and Arizona are any indication, the President may be able to overcome initial conservative resentment toward a plan derided as amnesty for illegals. Likewise, while Democrats will criticize the immigration plan as “not enough” and “an election-year conversion,” those all-important swing voters are likely to respond favorably.