Thursday, June 26, 2008

Will Conservatives Be Roused Into Action?

Here's an interesting follow-up to my previous entry, "Dark Moment of American Conservatism?"

Grover Norquist,
over at the Financial Times, argues that the right will come out in droves in November in support of the Republican ticket:
The case for Republican pessimism is well understood. Too much President George W. Bush for too long. Gasoline at $4 a gallon. Most Americans believe we are heading in the wrong direction. Iraq drags on. Republicans are listless. Time for something new.

The election is Tuesday, November 4, still four months away, and the case for a Republican resurgence is strong, if unseen by the establishment media.

What is the centre-right coalition that rose up to elect Ronald Reagan in 1980, install a Republican Congress in 1994 and for the next five elections, and drag Mr Bush across the finish line twice? This coalition is made up of voters who, on their main vote-moving issue, want one thing from the government: to be left alone.

Taxpayers want lower taxes. Businesses want low taxes and less regulation. Investors and owners of 401ks want low taxes on their retirement portfolios. Second Amendment voters – the 4m members of the National Rifle Association and 20m hunters – want their guns left alone. Home-schoolers wish to be left alone to educate their children. Social conservatives – the so-called religious right – are a parents’ rights movement that wishes to be left alone with their faith and families. They organised in the late 1970s when the government threatened Christian radio stations and Christian schools with new regulations.

In 1994, every segment of the centre-right, “leave us alone” coalition felt threatened by Bill Clinton and a Democrat congress that raised taxes and threatened to nationalise healthcare, steal their guns, tax private pensions, empower unions against small businessmen and heavily tax the self-employed and small business owners. Parents were told the “village” would be running more family matters, displacing their authority.

After 12 years of a Republican Congress and seven years of Mr Bush, all parts of the “leave us alone” coalition felt safer and forgot the plans Democrats have for them. Since the 1993 Clinton tax rise, no tax increase has been enacted at the federal level. This is the longest period in US history – going back to that tea thing – without one. Gun laws lapsed. There have been no labour union power grabs. Add the boat anchor of Iraq to a coalition lulled into a false sense of security and many conservative voters failed to notice that the left is unchanged in its ambitions.

The next four months will provide the necessary and perhaps sufficient reminders to bring them to the polls in force....

The centre-right voters, Reagan Democrats and Ross Perot voters are coming to understand the sharp edges of the Democrats’ agenda: the old one borrowed unchanged from Jimmy Carter, Walter Mondale, Mike Dukakis, Al Gore and John Kerry.
It's interesting that Norquist fails to mention John McCain's name.

If "centre-right" voters are going to turn-out in large numbers come November, they'll need to be motivated by more than an anything-but-Carter-Mondale-Dukakis-Gore-Kerry antipathy.

We've already seen a large number of "
Obamacans" emerge by now, and for the life of me, I can't understand it (the interaction of Bush and McCain derangment on the right of the spectrum, perhaps).

Whatever happens, Norquist's thesis needs vindication, that's for sure, or we'll be out in the political wilderness for four years, at the least.