The Democrats Made Their Bed & In 2004 They’re Going To Have To Lie In It
After the disastrous 2002 elections, I followed the debate on the left about what went wrong with great interest. What I noticed was that two schools of thought emerged.
On the one hand, you had Democrats saying that the party was coming across as too shrill & too far out of the mainstream. They were of the opinion that the party needed to move back towards the center in an attempt to pull in Independents and middle-of-the roaders.
That point of view lost out to the people who believed that the problem the Democrats had in 2002 was that they had moved too far towards the center to begin with. The people who bought into this said that the Democratic party should loudly and proudly move to the left in an attempt to turn-out the base in 2004.
Although I’m sure that many people on the left will disagree, the problem with that sort of approach is that it will cost the Dems far more votes in the middle than they’ll gain on the left. So while loudmouthed & combative, partisan pacifism may be quite popular with the base, it is driving a lot of potential Democratic voters into the arms of the GOP.
I have already pointed out the mammoth gains in party identification that the GOP has made since 9/11 in many swing states (for example: +15 in Arkansas, +12 in Iowa, & +9 in Michigan), but there are plenty of anecdotal examples that show how the Dems have lost out as well. The biggest name so far is of course Zell Miller who has NEVER voted GOP for President before. He explained why he was going to do so in 2004 in part by saying,
“I find it hard to believe, but these naive nine have managed to combine the worst feature of the McGovern campaign–the president is a liar and we must have peace at any cost–with the worst feature of the Mondale campaign–watch your wallet; we’re going to raise your taxes. George McGovern carried one state in 1972. Walter Mondale carried one state in 1984. Not exactly role models when it comes to how to get elected or, for that matter, how to run a country.”
Then if we look a bit further around the blogosphere, we see other voters that the Dems may have lost with their “take a hard left turn away from the center” strategy. Take Michele Catalano for example…
“I have been voting since 1980. Although I am, and always have been, a registered Republican, I have never voted for a Republican for president.
I am not a blind loyalist. Just because I support the war in Iraq does not mean I will automatically vote for Bush next year.
I’ve watched the Democratic debates. I’ve watched the Democrats fall apart. I’ve kept a watchful eye on everyone.
The Dems do have some things to offer me. So do the Republicans. So I have to think – what issue is most important to me? What issue affects me the most? What am I most concerned with?
In a word, terrorism. That is my concern. I am concerned with the Middle East being a breeding ground for terrorists from many countries and factions. I am concerned with the rumblings we hear once in a while about fresh attacks on our country. I worry about another 9/11. I worry what kind of world will my children have if we appease instead of defend, if we coddle instead of fight off.
I think of the Democrats in charge of taking care of terrorism in the Middle East. I think of Democrats in charge if we should be attacked again. I think of years of Democratic appeasement. And I shudder.
As long as terrorism is my most important concern – and there is no reason to think that will change within the next year – I will be, for the first time, voting for a Republican president. I placed my faith in Bush two years ago, when I was a sworn liberal, but had to trust the president to guide us out of the wreckage of 9/11 and to make sure that it never, ever happened again. Not to us, not to anyone.”
If the Dems want to throw the votes of people like Miller and Catalano away, heck, if they want to just write off the whole South by comparing the confederate flag to a swastika and by imperiously demanding that Southerners stop basing their votes on “race, guns, God and gays”, we’ll happily bring all those people inside the big GOP tent. But by Nov of 2004, I suspect that the Democrats are going to sorely regret all those votes that they so thoughtlessly cast away.