Thursday, March 23, 2006

Shift The Debate And Republicans Lose

Republicans have used wedge issues to catapult themselves into power. All of those tax breaks, regulatory rollbacks and corporate welfare that has been doled out to the elite and well connected, could never have occurred without the religious and social conservatives who went to the polls in support of Republican candidates. The problem for Republicans is, most of the social conservatives who helped put them in power, are not amongst the connected elite, and while they may agree with Republican rhetoric about gay marriage and abortion, they are being hit just as hard as the rest of us in their pocketbooks. This is exactly what the Democrats need to take advantage of. It’s easy to vote your morality when you have a job, your kids are being educated, you have access to healthcare and you can keep up with the mortgage payments. When that is no longer the case, social concerns have a way of taking a back seat.

According to a Pew Research Poll released yesterday, opposition to gay marriage has dropped from 63% in February 2004 to 51% today, and those who said they opposed gay marriage “strongly” has dropped from 42% to 28%. That’s a pretty significant shift in the national attitude on this issue. It may be that, the more people think about it, the less they care, but it also may be that other issues have been moved to the front burner. Polls consistently show that the war in Iraq, healthcare, jobs, education and the economy rank highest on the priority list of most Americans. This is good news for Democrats, considering under total Republican control, Iraq is a disaster, healthcare is less affordable and accessible, job creation has been slow or non-existent, public education is withering under No Child Left Behind and the economy may look good on paper, but for the average working American, statistics mean little when they’re working harder for less money since the Republicans took hold of the reigns of power.

Also in the Pew Research Poll were interesting numbers on abortion. While the majority of voters, 58%, oppose a South Dakota style ban on abortion, most people aren’t paying much attention. Only 28% consider abortion a “critical issue” and the group most likely to feel this way are white evangelical Protestants. Even amongst those who strongly oppose a ban on abortion, most consider the issue “one of many” or “not that important”. This tells me that Republicans HAVE to talk about abortion, but Democrats don’t, they can say they’re pro-choice and move on. The Democrats are much better off talking about the real issues and disengaging from the wedge issue discussion all together, or at least only engage in the most dismissive manner possible, “Of course I believe in a woman’s right to choose, now let’s talk about jobs.”

Shifting the debate to what matters most to working people will be a winning strategy for the Democrats, and a big loser for Republicans who rely on the crutch of social intolerance to get re-elected. Whether good or bad, most of the country doesn’t care much about abortion or gay marriage, although they do tend to fall more on the side of civil unions and a woman’s right to choose. That should tell the Democrats that they have taken the right position on both all along, and now they must focus on the issues that are concerning voters most, healthcare, family wage jobs, birth to college education, retirement security, and making sure that all of those things are available to all of our citizens so that poverty is no longer our dirty little secret, and dignity in life is secured for every American. Let the Republicans ply their base with rhetoric, they’ll turn off the moderate voters all by themselves, no need to join them in alienating the majority of the country. Better to stand back and give those moderates a place to go. And we don’t have to move to the right to attract middle America, they are already on their way over, driven in our direction by a Republican Party with only the fear and intolerance card left to play. It may have worked for them in the past, but it looks like it might finally be played out.


Blogger Yellow Dog said...

Some have called themselves Democrats and others have called themselves Republicans, but when I think of the best leaders our country has seen, they have been fiscally conservative and socially liberal.

2:44 PM  
Anonymous Dale Hippert said...


Great job! A real tour de force exposition on what the Dems need to articulate
AND do.

Please forward to Howard Dean....or I will!

Tell you what, with your permission, I'll forward to my two Dem Senators Obama and Durbin. Can you picture your words and phrases being used by OBama in speeches on behalf of Dems around the country? I can!

I'll bet that you will get a gratifying response, perhaps seeing the manifestation of your points
in the Dem positions this Fall or....a job offer!

Put you in the Dem's 'knife drawer' and surely they'd reach for the knife with LGND on the handle every time!

2:49 PM  
Blogger The (liberal)Girl Next Door said...

Yellow Dog--You are so right!

Dale--Have at it my friend! I would love it if they would listen to reason from the girl next door, liberal or not.

2:53 PM  
Blogger Rory Shock said...

very perceptive and well laid out ... I think you're a helluva strategist ...

7:54 PM  
Blogger Yellow Dog said...


I'm telling her she needs to be campaign manager.

8:11 PM  
Anonymous Skippy said...

These points are the basis for the great 2005 book "What's the Matter with Kansas", where the author investigates why one of the most liberal, even radical places in the USA in past times, has turned into a solidly red state.

The conclusion: Kansans were manipulated to care mostly about hot button social issues while their economic security and futures were being sold out by tax cuts, globalizaton and bad farm policy favoring corporate farming.

Remember well the Ohio experience in the 2004 election: an anti-gay marriage initiative brought out the conservative voters and probably delivered the state to W. Political science courses will teach Karl Rove's brilliant 2004 Ohio strategy for years.

Here in WA, the NRA used this same strategy in the past when the Ceasefire intiative brought out the backwoods voters, who also pulled the red levers on their way out of the polling booth.

It is regrettably going to take a while before these social voters wake up and realize the bill of goods they have been sold.

10:17 PM  
Anonymous geocrackr said...

Skippy, you're missing (as most people who mention it do) the main point of What's the Matter with Kansas, which is that Kansans recognized that once Clinton signed NAFTA, the Democrats didn't represent them on bread-and-butter issues any more than Republicans did, and so the only issues left for them to vote on were so-called "values" issues. The fact that the Republicans are only using those issues as a smokescreen is merely an ancillary argument to Frank, but unfortunately provides the lifesaver that Democrats cling to in their desparate denial of responsibility for our predicament.

As regards to the "Ohio experience in the 2004 elections," the only lesson that poli-sci courses of the future should teach about "Rove's brilliant 2004 Ohio strategy" is that election fraud works. Unless that is addressed first and foremost (see the Conyers Report and Mark Crispin Miller) any other analysis is just a waste of hot air.

10:46 PM  
Blogger enigma4ever said...

You should send this off to Howard Dean...and all other Demo's that are running this summer...well said...
and thought out- and some of those numbers are staggering..

1:05 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My God are you for real? I can not believe this crap. The really amazing thing is: That more then one person believes it. Not one of you has an ounce of common sense! I know that as time passes, most will grow a brain and come around to rational thinking. No one owes anybody anything. If you can't make it in a competitive Society, then think about leaving. Move to France. It pains me to think there are people in this great country that think like this! It is ridiculous!

11:48 AM  
Blogger The (liberal)Girl Next Door said...

Rory--Thanks, it's a result of too much time thinking about it.

Yellow Dog--When they start calling, I'll start helping.

Skippy--I really do need to read that book.

Geocrackr--You are exactly right, the Dems are to blame for losing the working class because they sold us out!

Enigma4ever--I think Dean is one of the few with any power who gets this. I just hope he can get the rest of the party to see it.

Anonymous--Keep on not believing it! This is a Republic, if you would prefer to live in a dictatorship or under oligarchic rule, there are plenty of places you can move to as well. I'll stick it out here and fight for democracy, thank you very much.

3:40 PM  

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