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"...public opinion deserves to be respected as well as despised" G.W.F. Hegel, 'Philosophy of Right'

the tide flows out on the Republican Party « Previous | |Next »
October 29, 2006

Andrew Sullivan has an op-ed in The Times about the forthcoming congressional elections in the US and the shift in Republican sentiment. He says:

Most critically, it is the rural heartland that is beginning to question Bush and the war. First, they trusted him as a man of God. Then they blamed the media for distorting reality in Iraq. Then their patriotism kicked in as the president urged them to “stay the course”. But now this segment of the population, people who have disproportionately sent their sons and daughters to fight in the bloodsoaked streets of Ramadi and Falluja and Baghdad, show signs of revolt. If Bush loses these voters---or if they are too demoralised to vote at all---the omens are truly dark for the Republicans.

The reason is that the Republican strategy devised by Karl Rove , has long been not to persuade moderate, suburban America, but to register, organise and mobilise millions of rural evangelical voters who had not voted in large numbers since the 1920s.Issues such as abortion and same-sex marriage brought these voters to the polls and made the difference. Without them in Ohio in 2004, John Kerry would now be president. The Republicans also gerrymandered their constituencies to ensure these voters were spread around enough to provide narrow margins of victories across the country. The victories were always close ones, nonetheless.
Sullivan adds:
Until recently the rural evangelicals have stuck with the president, in part to honour the fallen, and out of admirable patriotism and trust. It is hard to believe that your son or daughter died or is permanently crippled for a bungled cause. But if the facade cracks, if these rural voters begin to believe they have been misled, then the rock-solid patriotic support could become something else. It would not, in my judgment, fade into indifference. It could turn into rage.

Sullivan says that this hasn’t happened yet but you can feel it beginning.

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 12:30 PM | | Comments (3)
Comments

Comments

Thing is though, those voters might not go back to their rural caves like they did in the 1920s. And they are hardly likely to vote for the Democratic Party.

They will simply remain like a snake in the long grass for the next Republican Party nominee in 2008 to utilise. That is a demographic cat out of the bag.

If we're lucky, the rural Christian right's anger will cause American policy to veer to a more isolationist position in the world. If we're not lucky... ugh.

Simon,
Sullivan argues that it is premature to predict a huge change in the Congress on November 7. Republican discipline and strategy could still ensure that they still hold on by a squeak.

Still it is a hostile political environment for the Republicans.
Strategy for the Rovian machine would include the tradition of negative campaigning in American politics. This is now casting opponents as fatally flawed characters.

So we have the continuing debasement of the American political process by the GOP machine, which will use every totalitarian propaganda trick in the book, if need be, to keep all three branches of the federal government in its grip.

Makes me wonder about the pros and cons about compulsary voting, actually.

I used to be quite against compulsary voting because I'm against compulsary anything, but I can see the Realpolitik value in it- given that the lack of it in America causes the poltical parties veer to the extremes to 'get out the base'. I know that there are well meaning people that bemoan the apathy of Australians to politics, but after looking at America these past years, I'd say it is safer to be boring.