Election Thoughts

Looks like Kerry will concede in an hour or so. It’s encouraging that he is not pursuing a long legal battle. I know the provisional ballots in Ohio will be counted, but there’s no real statistical chance that it will go for Kerry.

I’ve emailed some liberal friends and relatives asking their opinion of what happened. IMHO, the War on Terror does _not_ explain it. Polls showed voters pretty evenly split on whether Bush or Kerry would do a better job with Iraq or the broader War on Terror. Further, it certainly doesn’t explain the GOP pick-ups in Congress.

Michael Moore approvingly wrote the other day that the Democrats had abandoned the conservatives within the party. I agree with him. I believe this is what went wrong (from a Dem POV). People have to choose between morals and money, and they chose morals. This is supported by the large number of state constitutions that were amended last night to protect the traditional definition of marriage. I think the Democrats are too beholden to shrill leftists when it comes to certain issues.

I believe the Democrats can, and must, go more populist. And that means socially conservative and economically moderate. Here’s a winning (not
necessarily moral or correct!) platform:

* Allow *states* to restrict, but not completely forbid, abortion. Maybe 1st trimester + health of the mother. Nobody likes abortion. Many are not as extremely pro-life as I am, and I think this would satisfy them. Pro-lifers would be happy with this huge step, and would calm way down. A 1st trimester abortion is not as politically and emotionally charged as partial-birth abortion.

* Oppose all homosexual marriage or civil unions. We all think gays are icky. Or perhaps take a strong position that no state is compelled to accept another state’s definition of marriage or “civil unions,” because that’s everyone’s fear.

* Aggressively pursue the War on Terror, but cut back on this nation building, democracy spreading stuff. Many Americans, I think, have a strong isolationist bent, and would prefer to just stay out of everything we can.

* Skepticism and contempt for the UN, but a commitment to work with it as much as possible. We conservatives despise the UN, and I think even moderates and many liberals don’t particularly like it. But nobody can argue with a commitment to give it a good faith effort.

* Maintain a strong military. It would be tough to win on a platform that wanted to “weaken” our national defense.

* Raise taxes a fair amount on the rich, and maybe just a little bit on the poor. You can feed off the class warfare and the perception that the poor are getting a free ride. I think there’s a lot of resentment among conservatives about the “welfare state”.

* Economic protectionism. It may make sense in an invisible hand sort of way, but free trade and outsourcing are scary.

* A few more socialistic style programs, particularly when it comes to the elderly, and health coverage for all.

* Pro guns. There is a certain large segment of voters, including me, who would not vote for an anti-gun candidate.

* Pro school vouchers. This is such an easy one. And it’s easy to defeat the “you are robbing money from public schools!” argument. Make the vouchers only 80% of the actual money spent on the student. Then each student that leaves public school is actually a financial boost for the public school system, because they get 20% of the money, and don’t have to attempt to educate that student.

* Reform public schools, plus give them lots of money. “Reform” is a fairly meaningless platitude, and the attempt will fail miserably, but it’s popular and feels good to say.

* Environmental protection. Not to the “internal combustion engines will kill us all” Al-Gore extreme, but still, pretty strong.

* You’d need a fairly religious Christian candidate, too. Or at least one that would resist any attempt to get rid of “under God” or “In God We Trust”. It would help if he was pro 10 Commandment displays, too. If he was in favor of school vouchers, it would totally defuse the prayer in school thing too.

Nobody could stop that candidate. He would effectively isolate and marginalize the real social leftists, appease the moderate socialists, villify the economic conservatives, and isolate the hawkish neocons. I believe the Democrats could more easily adopt this platform than the Republicans could, and I also believe the Democrats must reform in this manner, and very quickly, or they will not survive as a viable national party.

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8 Responses to Election Thoughts

  1. Elen says:

    “Raise taxes a fair amount on the rich, and maybe just a little bit on the poor.”

    I think that a much better platform would be “forget raising taxes…let’s just close the loopholes.” It doesn’t do any good at all to raise taxes on anybody, if it all just climbs back into the tax shelters.

    That’s just me, though.

  2. Just to be clear, I am not proposing a platform that I think would be the _right_ one. I’m just saying what I think would be _popular_.

    I agree that tax shelters ought to generally be eliminated.

  3. Patrick says:

    What you just described is what Bush should be, not what a democrat should be. You described a reasonably moderate republican.

    “We all think gays are icky” is simply a wrong statement. I do think though that politically it is a necessity to maintain the Kerry stance that it’s a states rights issue.

    A “pro gun” stance is hardly socially mainstream, unless you’re taking the stand that the nearly 80% that favored renewing the Assault Weapons ban are actually in the minority.

    Kerry actually was most of what you describe here too. He simply was demonized by Rove and didn’t know respond correctly.

    When 48.5% of the population voted for Kerry, and Bush still had a residual emotional attachment from the 9/11 attacks, it’s hard to claim that it wasn’t terrorism that allowed Bush to return to office. Not that we Democrats have done a good job of defining ourselves. We haven’t. That needs to be the next order of business, IMO. I think I’ll try and find some time after my birthday and homecoming to come up with my own post-mortem on the Kerry campaign and see what you think.

  4. Patrick, I think you are missing the force of what happened on Tuesday. Republicans kicked the Democrats’ … uhhh … mascot.

    Every age group favored Bush, except 18-29 (which we are both about to be out of). Bush made huge inroads in the Hispanic community (got like 40% of the vote) and had a significant advance among Jews (he got 24% of the vote, up from 19% before). 2/3rds of new voters, or voters who switched parties, voted for Bush. Bush easily won Florida and Ohio, and did much better than expected in Pennsylvania.

    Re: guns, a whopping 35 states have “shall issue” concealed carry licenses. Even Maine, Minnesota, and Pennsylvania. There’s a reason that nobody touched the gun issue this campaign.

    Re: gays, 11 states voted to constitutionally ban gay marriages to protect themselves against activist liberal judges. 75% of the country is against gay marriage.

    Re: terrorism, polls showed voters fairly evenly divided over who would do a better job wrt terrorism. That’s not why Bush won. Or at least, it’s not the _only_ reason Bush won. Why do you think 4 million more evangelicals turned out to vote for him?

    Some Democrats and other liberals do understand, and y’all would do well to pay attention. Zell Miller gets it. William Saletan also understands.

    One thing that y’all should not do, which I think _you_ personally will do, is do as Jane Smiley did and villify everyone who voted for Bush as stupid and evil.

  5. Ellen says:

    >A ?pro gun? stance is hardly socially mainstream, >unless you?re taking the stand that the nearly 80% >that favored renewing the Assault Weapons ban are >actually in the minority.

    Pro-gun is not necessarily pro-assault-rifle. I am a single mom who is the owner of a shotgun and a hunting rifle.

    Pro-gun is socially mainstream, given the number of hunters and owners of hand guns. To lump those people in with those who approve of fully automatic assault rifles is (possibly) not correct.

  6. fully automatic assault rifles

    I don’t mean to pick on you Ellen, but the Assault Weapons Ban had absolutely nothing to do with _automatic_ weapons at all. But misperceptions like this are probably part of the reason that so many people (allegedly) supported the ban.

    The AWB only banned certain semiauto rifles. Fully automatic weapons are Class 3 weapons, and must be registered with the BATF, plus you have to pay like a $500 fee. Ditto for silencers.

  7. Ellen says:

    1) I don’t support the ban. But you are correct in the distinction

    2) my point is (still) that gun ownership is mainstream.

  8. Patrick says:

    Robert, you asked for my opinion… and it is that 9/11 is the only reason Bush was re-elected. He got 51% of the vote when he had a 90% approval rating in early 2002. You can’t tell me that he would have had 51% of the vote if he hadn’t started falling from 90%.

    Most of what I’ve seen when people voted against Kerry as opposed to for Bush is that they didn’t understand his stances on a variety of issues. Most of the misconceptions were the ones that the Republican party put forth.

    Now I will concede that the people who voted for Bush seem to think that the reason to vote for him is what they percieve as his morality. I don’t know him personally, and nor do I know Kerry. For me it’s always about policy. I always try and vote for the protection of the greatest number of people while protecting those that do no harm. That is clearly not how many people vote, so maybe I don’t understand the electorate. I don’t even see a liberal media bias. I contend that it might have been liberal in the early 1990s, but that any leanings from NBC are trumped by Fox. Liberal media bias is a myth propagated by people who dislike facts presented in a non-partisan manner.

    I have decided that I need to set up a second blog just to talk politics. I’ll probably do it in a few weeks after I get over the trauma of turning 30 yesterday.

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