Skip to comments.Victor Davis Hanson: Why the Democrats Won't Win
Posted on 06/22/2006 6:31:31 AM PDT by Tolik
Will President Bush's current unpopularity translate into a Democratic recapture of either the House or Senate this fall - or a victory in the 2008 presidential election?
Despite widespread unhappiness with the Republicans, it is hard to envision a majority party run by Howard Dean, John Kerry, Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid.
All sorts of apparent and not-so-apparent reasons. First, recent events and trends have complicated Democrats' talking points about George W. Bush's purported failings.
The so-called "jobless" recovery has seen low unemployment rates comparable to the Clinton boom years.
Last September, many people blamed what they viewed as a stingy federal government for the chaos following Hurricane Katrina. But now we learn individuals' fraudulent claims and spending accounted for $1.4 billion in federal largess. Too much was apparently thrown around from big government too generously, rather than too little, too slowly.
Karl Rove was supposedly going to be "frog-marched" out of the White House in cuffs for a role in outing CIA agent Valerie Plame. Instead, the special prosecutor recently found no evidence that he was involved in any wrongdoing.
And then there's Iraq. The recent killing of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi and the establishment of a complete Iraqi democratic Cabinet will not ensure a quick victory, as we see from the recent slaughter of American captive soldiers. But both events still weaken the liberal clamor that the American effort at birthing democracy is doomed in Iraq. Calling for a deadline to leave, as Rep. John Murtha, D-Pa., and Sen. John Kerry, D-Ma., advocate, is not so compelling when the current policy is based on training the growing Iraqi security forces so that American troops can come home as soon as possible.
Thus, looking ahead to the elections, there is little that the Democrats will be able to capitalize on.
Take the budget deficit. Total federal annual revenues have increased despite, or because of, the tax cuts. Yet at the same time budget expenditures in the first Bush term grew at a much faster annual rate than during Bill Clinton's administration. So the time-honored remedy for the shortfall calls for cuts and a more conservative budget cruncher, hardly a liberal forte.
Even in an area like illegal immigration where Bush is getting hammered by his own party, the Democrats aren't in good shape. Their similar support for amnesty and guest workers gives them the same Bush negatives on those issues. But they suffer the additional burden of apparent laxity on open borders.
Meanwhile, the Democrats face a more fundamental, existential problem. The addition of China and India to the world capitalist system has brought well over a billion workers into the global marketplace. The planet is now flooded with cheap consumer goods - at precisely the time the U.S. economy keeps creating national wealth at a rapid clip.
The result is that while there may be more inequality than ever before in the no-holds-barred world mart, the middle class and poor in the U.S. have access to "things" - TVs, sound systems, clothes, cars - undreamed of in the past. We are now in the age of MTV and mass conspicuous consumption, not of the grapes of wrath. American class warfare can no longer be defined by the Democratic Party as an elemental need for a 40-hour workweek, unemployment and disability insurance, or Social Security.
Unfortunately, the liberal debate has devolved to why one person has more opportunity for leisure and even nicer things than others do. A sort of envy rather than hunger more often fuels the gripe - and that should require a subtle Democratic acknowledgment that things continue to improve for everyone.
Finally, in the past, savvy Democrats understood the need for a conservative package for such liberal contents. To win the popular vote in presidential races, the formula was to nominate a Southern governor or senator - as in 1964, 1976, 1992, 1996 and 2000 - and then hope either for a Republican scandal such as Watergate or Iran-Contra, or a populist third-party conservative like Ross Perot.
In contrast, recently any time the liberal base got its wish and nominated a Northern progressive - 1968, 1972, 1984, 1988 or 2004 - the party lost the presidency. So far even Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo, Katrina and Haditha have not equated to past national scandals; nor will there likely be a prairie-fire independent to draw votes away from the Republicans.
Yes, much of the public is grumpy at high gas prices. It does not like the costs in Iraq and continuing budget deficits. And people worry about unchecked illegal immigration and dangers on the horizon, from Iran to North Korea. But when Americans get inside the voting booth, they probably will think the envisioned Democratic remedy is worse than the current perceived Republican disease.
Victor Davis Hanson is a classicist and historian at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University, and author, most recently, of "A War Like No Other: How the Athenians and Spartans Fought the Peloponnesian War." You can reach him by e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Let me know if you want in or out.
Links: FR Index of his articles: http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/keyword?k=victordavishanson
His website: http://victorhanson.com/ NRO archive: http://www.nationalreview.com/hanson/hanson-archive.asp
Let's hope and pray VDH is right.
It's a big moment for me...I'd like to thank my family, my wife, my high school baseball coach....
You need to come over to the Rush threads...you'd be a welcome asset there.
Thanks for the laughs, we need them sometimes, er, I mean always.
Thanks. Rush is bigger than universe, I don't have enough mega-dittos...
The Republican Party often seems to have no real guiding principles at all, while the Democrats obviously do have them. Only trouble is, the Democrats' principles are the wrong ones, the principles of the Left. A lot of people can see that, and they won't go for it. Besides the fact that anti Americanism is not so popular in the actual USA as the Dems seem to imagine. So I'm guardedly hopeful that Hanson is right on this.
Here's the money quote from this piece:
"Finally, in the past, savvy Democrats understood the need for a conservative package for such liberal contents. To win the popular vote in presidential races, the formula was to nominate a Southern governor or senator - as in 1964, 1976, 1992, 1996 and 2000 - and then hope either for a Republican scandal such as Watergate or Iran-Contra, or a populist third-party conservative like Ross Perot."
That pretty much sums things up. If the Republicans/Conservatives can stay united, we can keep the 'Rats at bay. Fail in the Leadership, and the Republican Party will fail.
Good summary analysis by VDH. We still need to work hard, from now until November. I'm in a hugely safe Republican Congressional district (GA 6th), and still had two Tom Price canvassers come by the house yesterday. I hope it's the same throughout the nation.
Thanks for the ping.
What is surprising is that elections ARE so close.
One of my favorite authors Arnold Kling of TCSDaily had an essay recently called Are You a Conservative? (http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/1649142/posts) where he argues that many liberals do live their lives by what now is considered to be conservative standards, they just vote Democrat because of a habit, or idealistic utopian ideals of how they imagine things should have been.
So many words for such a simple answer, because the Rats are idiots!
The proof that some are that discriminating is that Victor is, himself, a traditional Democrat.
As the elite rats's MSM looses its hold/power over America, Americans get to see and hear these lunatics in action. This costs them more moderate votes everyday and makes us broken glass Republican voters.
I think the democrats problems come from the fact that they are not unified
they are actually several differnet groups cobbled together
some are tree huggers, some are pro abortion, some are pro gay marriage and some are anti war
that is why kerry was such a flip flopper and no democrat can ever give a straight answer they always have to go through this huge mathematical equation to figure out what to say to piss off they fewest memebers of their patchwork base...
Of course we will win, I voted for the war before I voted against it.
Shut up John, who asked you?
Yeah, I was working up a speach to give every Iraqi Citizen health care, and every Iraqi woman an abortion. How dare you step on my message?
Yes, John, move of out of the way, I have some troops in Iraq I need to persecute and take Nancy's job.
Congressperson Murtha. You made an agreement with me. You aren't going against your agreements with me like the other Democrats do?
Yes, I believe you are exactly right. I know a lot of guys, middle aged guys at that, who are just ordinary guys, good guys, but still vote Dem regularly. They don't even necessarily consider themselves "liberals," though they might accept that label at a pinch, without any real idea of what it means. Mainly they vote Dem because they always have, or their parents did, no better reason than that, exactly the same as rooting for the hometown team. 'Course, their state of mind on this is reinforced every evening by the MSM, most of 'em sit in front of the TV without a very critical eye, though they are intelligent otherwise.
The point I make to myself, and occasionally on a thread, or to others, is that I believe it's important to understand one's own guiding principles regarding the role of government in society and the freedom of men. People who are like the ones we're discussing, and many who actively consider themselves "liberals" haven't really given much thought to what their principles on these matters should be, and thus are free to vote on individual issues and emotion without any regard at all to the "big picture." 'Course, the trouble is, a lot of our guys are much the same.
But given the above, I suppose it makes enough sense that voters will swing one way, then another, sometimes having eyes only for whatever bright and shiny bric a brac is being waved in front of them.
It's all well and good to be in favor of helping the poor or sticking up for the little guy, but most don't think about the longer term consequences of giving tremendous coercive power to government, or building massive bureaucracies which wield the power of law, in the service of those things. Unlike our founding fathers, they trust their government, at least if it's being run by their party.
Don't worry, we will keep the agreements going as long as it helps us overcome America. Remember Nancy, our goals of political correctness and socialism.
It doesn't hurt the R's to have the contrast of 2 of our soldiers being horribly mutilated and beheaded only a couple of days before the D's proposed 2 separate bills in the Senate in favor of running away, errr, withdrawing. Oh, and finding 500 nerve gas bombs in Iraq doesn't hurt, either.
Yes, you are right that there are all these subgroups in the Dem party, and that there is a lack of unity, but IMO, one reason Dems don't give straight answers is that if they tell the truth, that they are leftists, many of them would be out of a job. Flip flopping is more a function of general dishonesty than principle, IMO, and happens with politicians of all stripes.
In any case, my point is that the Democrat Party is the party of the Left, and thus generally follows leftist principles, which are fairly well defined. Even if a good many of Dem voters don't seem to understand this. But the tree huggers, "anti war" folk (who aren't really anti war), "gay marriage" advocates, media and entertainment types, they are all united at least by being followers of leftist ideals. The individual issues still grow in one way or another from the fundamental principles of leftism.
Another "expert" stops and smells the roses. I first said the rat would not win and would in fact lose seats, in an essay posted last Labor Day. Welcome Victor.
After 15 years of pragmatic triangulation, why would anyone expect principle from politicians or parties?
I forgot to mention, don't you find it ironic that the Republican Pary is increasingly the party of the everyday guy, as evidenced by FR, while the Dem party has become the party of the super wealthy? After Bush was elected it was even common to hear very public complaints from Dems that the people with the money weren't running the country anymore, since the red staters had won.
Not everyone there worships Rush...there are some high-quality Freepers. The conversations usually stray to interesting topics.
(this last one is so ridiculous I can't believe he brought it up; anyone with a brain knows it's the market, not Bush).
Unfortunately, the Dems count on people without brains to vote.
And dead people. No, wait, I guess that's covered in the "no brains" clause.
Love that Toon!
Says it all!
In Nov '06 the 'Pubbies will pick up 2 in the Senate and 4 in the House. You read it here first!
That was true only until the Supreme Court arrogated to itself the power to define what is Constitutional and just! IMHO, if you want a living Constitution, more decisions like Kelo, Lawrence, decisions citing foreign juris prudence and a new interpretation of the Second Amendment, just ignore the importance of the Senate.
(Denny Crane: "Every one should carry a gun strapped to their waist. We need more - not less guns.")
I see your from the great state of Kentucky.
The SCOTUS definitely needs to be brought to heel.
You can't do that by ignoring the importance of the Senate and helping Mitch McConnell's opponent. Unfortunately, that also implies that you need to vote for the RINOs/CINOs in the general election for Senate. Everyone knows it stinks, but what's the alternative? It's almost guaranteed that allowing the dem to become a Senator will make things worse.
This is not an analogy, but look at NY. Not too long ago, it had a relatively conservative dem, Moynihan, and Al D'Amato(R). Talk about their replacements. With Clinton and Schumer, it's unreal. If you want to take down a RINO in the Senate, do it in a primary, pretty please?
Pardon me, but I took that from your "about page." As a practical matter, what's the difference between a state and a commonwealth?
that link for the Arnold Kling story is dead - try this one:
...'A search on "state difference commonwealth" turned up some useful results. At the About.com: Lawyers site, we learned that there are four commonwealths in the United States: Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Kentucky.
The difference between these commonwealths and the other 46 states is in name alone -- they elected to call themselves commonwealths, a term drawn from political theory. The About.com lawyer assured us that, legally, there is no difference between a state and these four commonwealths.
According to the website of the Secretary of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts: At the time of the American Revolution, "commonwealth" was a popular term for describing a state/nation where the people came together by mutual consent. It was a term with democratic overtones, in contrast to the monarchic system that the colonies were trying to throw off. John Adams put the word "commonwealth" into his 1780 draft of the Massachusetts Constitution and it was accepted, as opposed to earlier rejected versions that used the term "state". So that's why Massachusetts is a commonwealth. Given that Virginia and Pennsylvania would have written their Constitutions around the same time, a similar idea might have factored in for them. Kentucky came later, so it's anyone's guess, but it's still one of the older states... it seems possible that the same idea could apply.
"The R's could very well lose over immigration, but not on Iraq or gas prices (this last one is so ridiculous I can't believe he brought it up; anyone with a brain knows it's the market, not Bush)."
Hey, people get frustrated and vote for candidates over all sorts of things. Having a vote doesn't mean you have a brain, or we wouldn't have to deal with Cynthia McKinney.
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