Well, the election results are in. The Democratic Party took a
beating yesterday — a worse one, I think, than it has really
assimilated. The Pew Research Center has analyzed
the results. If you guys don’t want your butts handed to you in 2004,
I have a few suggestions.
First, a reminder for new readers or old readers in any doubt. I
am not a Republican. I am not a conservative. There are some people
who are going to think my giving advice to the Democratic Party is
disingenuous or some form of point-scoring. They’re wrong. Politics
is an intrinsically evil game, but it might become at least less evil
if the Democrats cleaned up their act. I’d like to see that.
The most important message the voters delivered yesterday is that
running against George Bush is a fast road to failure. Where
Republican candidates successfully tied themselves to national issues and
ran on a boost-Bush platform (as in Kentucky and Mississippi) they won.
Only where the Democrats were able to divert attention to local issues
(like the FBI bug in Philadelphia Mayor Street’s office) did they
U.S. troops out of Iraq? Jobless recovery? War for oil? Tax
cuts? Halliburton? All these favored taglines of the anti-Bush crowd
got no traction at all. Zero. Zip. Nada. There is no evidence that
they helped and some inferential evidence in the poll numbers that
they hurt. The Democratic incumbant in Mississippi knew this was
a’comin’ — he actually worked at keeping Bill Clinton and the
whole gaggle of Democratic presidential candidates out of his state.
This didn’t save him.
The Democrats had already lost southern conservatives. The Pew
analysis says they’re losing moderates, too. Republicans gained in
every voter stratum except blacks — rich, poor, male, female,
whites, and hispanics. The angry-left pitch not only doesn’t work,
it’s accelerating a long-term tend of Republicanizing the South.
This has direct implications for 2004. The way the regional
arithmetic of the Electoral College works makes it effectively
impossible to take the White House without a strong showing in
the South. If the 2004 elections were held today, Bush couldn’t
lose — and the trends favor Republican gains in the next
So. What can the Democrats do to win?
Support the war.
The U.S. is at war. We will continue to be at war until there is
no credible threat from an alliance of WMD-wielding rogue states and
the Islamist terror network. The American people have accepted this,
and they will back George Bush’s war policy unless or until it appears
that he cannot competently execute it. Arguing that we should not
have a war policy, or should have a less ‘unilateral’ one,
just lost the Democrats two governorships and will almost certainly
lose them a third in Lousiana on 15 Nov.
Stop trying to personalize the 2004 campaign.
The only loser bigger than running gainst Bush’s war policy is
running against Bush himself. The Bush-is-Hitler/Bush-is-a-moron thing
has no zorch anywhere outside a set of bicoastal Brie-nibbler
patches and university campuses that can be counted on one hand.
The American people like and respect Bush, even when they question his
policies. (I find this part difficult to understand myself, but the
evidence is undeniable.)
Actively support gun rights.
Of all the single-issue blocs, gun owners are both the largest and
would probably the easiest to pry loose from the Republican base
(remember, Bill Clinton himself said gun control swung the last
election cycle). Over 50% of American households own guns and their
demographics cross over many narrower political classifications. A
lot of swing voters like me simply will not vote for any Democrat
without an actively pro-Second-Amendment record, but will give
Republicans the benefit of the doubt on this issue. If you want us
back, dump the gun-grabbers overboard.
- Drop the prescription-drug entitlement.
I pick on this one because there is just now no more obvious
example of domestic-policy fecklessness. The American people said no
to single-payer health care ten years ago. If you think they can’t
spot a multi-billion-doller Medicare boondoggle in the making, you’re
fooling yourself. Passing this turkey will bring no credit on either
the Democrats or Republicans supporting it. Let it die.
Give us some presidential candidates who aren’t jokes
I look at the Nine Dwarves and the first thing reaction that comes
to mind isn’t even disgust but a sort of weary incredulity. I think
of P.J. O’Rourke’s line: “What the fuck? I mean, what the fucking
fuck?” A major party in the wealthiest, most powerful, fourth most
populous nation in the world can’t do any better than these?
I think I have a lot of company in judging that these guys looked
better six months ago, before they cheapened themselves with their
endless indistinguishable yapping and their blatant pandering to the
silliest barking moonbats on the fringe of the Democratic left. Bush
has actually gained stature by comparison after every debate.
Nobody expects these guys to sound like Republicans — but, you know,
once, there used to be a Democratic position that didn’t sound like
a petulant “Nyah, nyahhh”. I haven’t heard any credible plan for the
war or the economy. Clue: Neither “Repeal the Bush tax cuts” or “Hand
Iraq to the U.N. and the French” will fly to anyone who can string
three facts together about economics or history. I don’t think these
characters even believe their own bullshit.
You Republicans out there will be comforted by the thought
that the Democrats are utterly incapable of taking this advice. I am
not comforted by that thought — but you’re probably
(Correction: a reader pointed out that in 2003 the U.S. is
the third most populous country in the world, not the