2008 and the realignment of the GOP

Whoever wins the White House on Tuesday, we will see a realignment of conservative politics in this country. The pendulum of the country is swinging leftward as George W. Bush’s policy has effectively ended the momentum of the Reagan era. 

Ronald Reagan’s presidency represented at rightward shift in American politics to a pro-business, anti-tax, pro-military, pro-imperial American presidency and American conservatism. This realignment largely pleased the electorate and Reagan remained, despite scandals like Iran-Contra, an incredibly popular president. In short, his policies realigned the political landscape of the nation rightward. Even Bill Clinton’s presidency was centrist, far from the leftward idealogue he was painted as during the campaign.  Alan Greenspan called him “the best republican president” he’s ever worked with. 

Look to today’s political landscape and you are seeing the reverse trend. It’s what happens when the party in power is in office too long. For evidence, we need look no further than the GOP presidential nominating process and how we arrived on John McCain. 

Remember when they had their first debate and those who believed in evolution were asked to raise their hands? That was fun. But let’s remember who we were talking about…

Rudy Giuliani-incredibly conservative when it came to national defense and homeland security. Tax cutting history. But when it came to cultural issues he was pro-choice and pro-gun control. Between those issues and his strangely run campaign Rudy wasn’t going to make it. 

Sam Brownback-Well, Sam was conservative enough…never knew why this guy didn’t catch fire. Oh that’s right he had no support. 

Jim Gilmore-Who?

Duncan Hunter-Hated mexicans, can’t remember much else.

Mike Huckabee-Despite his revolutionary tax code (remember the Fair Tax? I liked it) he was seen as a liberal spender in Arkansas, a “feel your pain” conservative Huckabee was a tax raiser. Culturally he won the social conservatives’ hearts and forced McCain into a war of attrition. 

Ron Paul-Caught fire with a small portion of the electorate, his voice of libertarianism and what many see as true conservativism was a welcome breath of fresh air in debates constantly trying to resurrect Reagan. But actually reducing the size of the military, actually getting government out of the way of industry instead of in bed with it? These ideas weren’t going to fly in the real GOP. 

Mitt Romney-Romney is the guy lots of “real” conservatives, i.e. Rush and Hannity wanted to see win this thing. He sought to take up the mantle of Reagan. Mostly by, you know, completely changing his stand on major policies, like universal healthcare. Voters smelled a rat, and got rid of him. His being a mormon didn’t help with the Christian right either. 

Tom Tancredo-No to evolution, no to Mexicans. Period. 

Fred Thompson-I was surprised he didn’t go further. If you could ever keep him awake long enough he might have had a good campaign. 

Tommy Thompson-You remember him, right?

And so the GOP selected John McCain. At the time villified by Rush and Hannity who have since pivoted to support him, because of his willingness to work in the middle on issues like global warming (which he like Al Gore believes in). McCain is seen largely as a moderate and while this has created a lot of strife among “the base” it’s the direction the party is headed. Look at the men above, none of them could be what the GOP electorate wanted because they stood or tried to stand to the right of John McCain. McCain won (to the consternation of the talking heads) by being leftward of his opponents. 

This lead to what was the great mistake of the McCain campaign. Instead of dancing with the girl that brought them, and being the real moderate, McCain instead decided to run toward Bush’s base without embracing Bush himself. He was the guy cheerfully admitting he had voted with Bush 90% of the time instead of talking up the other 10%. McCain sought to please the Fox News watching part of the country instead of being authentic. That’s what drove the Palin-pick. That’s what drove the celebrity ads, that’s what’s driven all this Bill Ayers nonsense. 

But the problem for the GOP runs deeper than that. McCain could still win the White House (though his electoral path is dwindling). However, congress will surely get even more blue this election. We just don’t know by how much. Why? Because in district after district the country watched as Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama fought their campaign, and while trying to beat each other, they propped up liberal policies that sounded good to most Americans. While the markets are in turmoil and the economy is contracting Americans are looking to the policies of those damned liberals and seeing them as not so bad. Does that make all Americans that don’t agree with Rush, Hannity, and Jarvis silly, or duped by liberal campaigns? I don’t think so. 

I think the essential problem is this. Since 1980, the year Reagan was elected government has only gotten bigger. Yet for all the expansion in spending Americans wages haven’t risen (remember trickle down economics), they haven’t been made safer (remember 9/11), they haven’t won a war (Iraq I, Iraq II, Afghanistan), they can’t afford healthcare, they can’t afford to send their kids to college, and now they can’t afford their houses. In short, just as undaunted liberalism had faltered at the end of the 1970’s, unfettered conservatism is faltering now. The nation knows it and its time for the pendulum to swing. The question is, how far will it swing back?

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Liberals hate real America!

Picked this up on The Crypt yesterday. 

Warming up a crowd in North Carolina on Saturday, Republican Rep. Robin Hayes offered the diagnosis that “liberals hate real Americans that work and achieve and believe in God.”

His remarks came shortly after he had said he would “make sure we don’t say something stupid, make sure we don’t say something we don’t mean.” 

Hayes had followed Rep. Patrick McHenry, also a North Carolina Republican, who laid out the choice between McCain and Obama. 

“It’s like black and white,” yelled someone from the crowd.

The post goes on to chronicle the denials and ultimately the audio of the statements of Rep. Hayes to confirm he did indeed say these things. 

Is this how deep the culture wars run? Have we strayed so far from debating real issues that politicians have been reduced to portraying their opponents as people who “hate real Americans.”

For the record, I am 27 years old, I live in New York City. I’m married. My uncle is a retired Air Force lt. Colonel, I drive a Nissan. I like to play football and roller hockey on the weekends. I don’t own a gun. I pay taxes. I go to church. My father has voted Republican in every election I can remember, until now. Am I a real American?

The Pressure McCain is Under

This blog among many many other voices on the web has wondered aloud, what happened to the “real McCain.” Well following up on the video we posted yesterday take a look at this article from Politico. It highlights the intense pressure McCain is under to attack Obama on every personal level possible. From Bill Ayers to Rev. Wright. People in the base of the republican party are terrified of Obama thinking he is at best a socialist, at worst a terrorist. Their rage is being focused on McCain as he refuses to full muddy the waters. 

Many voters may not like some of the ugly tactics employed by the McCain campaign. Even I have commented that it has shades of Karl Rove and kills McCain’s brand. But remember that it could be much much worse. 

A few passages from the Politico piece:

“Terrorist!” one man screamed Monday at a New Mexico rally after McCain voiced the campaign’s new rhetorical staple aimed at raising doubts about the Illinois senator: “Who is the real Barack Obama?” 

“He’s a damn liar!” yelled a woman Wednesday in Pennsylvania. “Get him. He’s bad for our country.” 

At both stops, there were cries of, “Nobama,” picking up on a phrase that has appeared on yard signs, t-shirts and bumper stickers. 

AND

“I’m mad, I’m really mad!” the voter bellowed. “And what’s going to surprise ya, is it’s not the economy – it’s the socialists taking over our country.” 

After the crowd settled down he was back at it. “When you have an Obama, Pelosi and the rest of the hooligans up there gonna run this country, we gotta have our head examined!” 

AND:

“Obama Osama!” one woman called out. 

And twice this week, local officials have warmed up the crowd by railing against “Barack Hussein Obama.” 

Both times, McCain’s campaign has issued statements disavowing the use of the Democrat’s full name. 
A McCain aide said they tell individuals speaking before every event not to do so. “Sometimes people just do what they want,” explained the aide. 

AND FROM RUSH

“Yosemite Sam is having the law laid down to him today in Waukesha, Wisconsin,” quipped Limbaugh on his show Thursday, referring to the GOP nominee. “This guy, this audience member is exactly right,” the conservative talk show host said of the first individual. 

“You are running for president. You have a right to defend this country. You have a responsibility to defend this country and not just fulfill some dream you had eight years ago running for president against Bush. It’s time to start naming names and explain what’s actually going on, because Senator McCain, the people of this country are dead scared about what we face if you lose.”