Sunday, March 23, 2008

Have a clear identity

Paul Mirengoff posts this on Powerline:

Will the bitter contest between Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton cause many Democratic supporters of the eventual loser to defect to John McCain in November? This poll suggests that it will, at least in the must-win (for Democrats) state of Pennsylvania. The poll, taken by Franklin & Marshall College, reports that 20 percent of registered Democrats in that state who support Obama say they will vote for McCain if Clinton obtains the nomination. Similarly, 19 percent of Clinton supporters claim they will defect if Obama is the nominee.

For what it's worth, I don't believe the defection rate will be anything close to 20 percent in any state regardless of who the Dems nominate. Passions are running high right now, but there's very little substantive difference between Clinton and Obama and, when things cool down, Democratic voters probably will realize this. I suspect that the Democratic defection rate if Obama is nominated (as now seems likely) will be quite low. If Clinton snares the nomination the defection rate will be a bit higher, but will consist mostly of Obama supporters who simply stay home.

The real concern for Democrats should be with independent voters. The problem here is not so much the bitter primary contests, but the fact that McCain is, well, far more independent than Clinton and Obama. Indeed, the real significance (if any) of all those Pennsylvania Dems who say they'll vote for McCain is not that they are actually likely to vote for him, but rather that they regard McCain highly enough to contemplate doing so. For similar reasons, Independents regard McCain highly enough to vote for him, in droves.

What Mr. Mirengoff says is undoubtedly correct. Many fewer Democrats will jump ship and vote for any Republican than currently are saying so. What with passions running so highly and all. Just as most of those Republicans who said that they would never vote for McCain will wind up holding their nose and pulling the lever for him.

But it is noteworthy that so many Democrats look at McCain and see someone that they really wouldn't mind becoming president all that much. All you conservatives think of this. How many Democrats are there out there who currently hold elective office and have anywhere near the prominence in that party which McCain has in the Republican party who you wouldn't mind seeing become president all that much?

And if any of you are thinking of Joe Lieberman remember that he isn't a Democrat any more. He was tossed out of that party after disagreeing with them on the war in Iraq. And even then would you really want him as president? He is hard left on just about everything other than terrorism, Iraq, Israel and the Patriot Act. He has a few tepidly conservative positions on some cultural/social issues, but he was willing to throw them overboard to be Al Gore's running mate so how serious about them is he really ?

No, the Democrat party will not tolerate anyone in a position of prominence within their ranks whom conservatives would find anywhere near acceptable.

Why can't Republicans exercise that kind of discipline within their own party? After all the Democrat party is a coalition of different groups which don't all get along that well with each other. Blacks don't like Jews or Gays and they hate the schools which their children are forced to attend, schools which are exactly the way that the teacher's union wants them to be. Hispanics don't like blacks and blacks return the favor. Feminists are now discovering that they don't care too much for racial minorities and a lot of white blue collar workers in unions don't really care too much for the peace movement types.

With all that division within their ranks why are Democrats so good at keeping their little fleet of ships all sailing in the same direction? It is precisely because the Democrat party is so fractured and fractious that it is so good at keeping order within its own ranks. It is a matter of survival. If they couldn't keep everyone more or less in line the party would fly apart and they would never win an election.

What unites Democrats is a desire for continued increase in the size, scope and power of government at the expense of the individual. Doubtless some left-liberal is now getting ready to tell me that Democrats support individual rights more than Republicans do. However if you look at the individual rights issues which Democrats champion most of them come down to protecting people's right to do things which are harmful to them or others and which degrade the culture and lead to an infantalized population which exists in a state of dependence upon the state. Individual rights issues like Second Amendment rights which encourage people to become responsible and self-reliant are opposed by the left.

My suggestion to my fellow Republicans is that we come together around a set of core beliefs. I would submit that those core beliefs should be those which Ronald Reagan brought into the party. Lower taxes as much as possible. Reduce the size and scope of the federal government. Confront our enemies and attempt to roll back the forces of totalitarianism wherever possible. Stand up for positive moral values and attempt to halt or reverse the tide of decay which is threatening to overwhelm our culture. Uphold the rule of law in every way from securing our borders to making the streets of our large cities as safe to walk as those of our small towns.

We need to realize that our "tent" needs to be big enough to hold everyone who can come together around those principles but not so large as to contain anyone who dissents in any significant way from any of those core principles.

The model for this would be the way the Democrats kicked Joe Lieberman out of their party for supporting the war in Iraq. The Dems made opposition to the war their signature issue and Lieberman left the reservation. But at the same time division on issues which do not directly impact a core value is allowed. For example blacks are not required to abandon their antisemitism to become Democrats in good standing and Jewish Democrats will not object because they know that black "leaders" will direct their people to vote the same was as the Jewish Democrats vote.

Now some Democrat politicians who depart from the party line are permitted in the party if they can win elections. But they are definitely second-class Democrats. For example no pro-life Democrat will be allowed to speak at the national convention and no dissident Democrat will continue to be tolerated if they attempt to lead a movement to change the overall party's stance on a core issue.

If the Republican party wishes to recapture the momentum which Ronald Reagan generated it must realize that its "tent" cannot be large enough to hold either a Ron Paul or a John McCain, unless they are willing to shut up and toe the party line. And even then they should never be trusted at the top of the ticket in a national race.