Will foreign policy play a role in 2012?
The dominant narrative of the 2010 Republican/Tea Party landslide is that the election was all about voter anger at and fear of the spending initiated by President Obama and the Democrats. On November 2, 2010, 60 percent of the 30 percent of Americans who do not identify as Republicans or Democrats voted for Republican candidates for the House and Senate. That was a dramatic change from the 2006 off-year election, in which the same independents voted 60/40 for the Democrats, and a sign of broad-based concerns about the government’s finances.
This victory raised concerns among some social conservative leaders that their issues had been or would be ignored or downplayed. These fears struck most observers as overblown. The 2010 election added a net 38 congressmen and six senators to the pro-life cause, and the Second Amendment won an additional 32 congressmen and seven senators to the pro-gun cause. How could social conservatives be uneasy about their place in the universe with such electoral success?
This paradoxical situation is a result of confusion over total votes and swing votes.
The Republican base vote is made up of millions of voters who are voting for the same party and candidate. One candidate. Many votes. Many reasons for those votes. As Phyllis Schlafly said in 1980, “Everyone is allowed to vote for my candidate for his own reason.”
When voters elected 87 new Republican congressmen and 12 new Republican senators they-with exceptions you could count on one hand-elected candidates who were committed to opposing any tax increases, supporting spending cuts, opposing taxpayer funding of abortion, advancing tort reform, opposing labor union abuses, and supporting the Second Amendment.
And yet the TV ads in 2010 were all about spending and the economy. Why? Because the target audience was the independent vote. Swing voters. Those Americans who on Election Day could cheerfully vote either Republican or Democrat. This year they were motivated to vote against big spenders in Washington. The pro-life, pro-gun voters were not ignored. They were largely embedded in the Republican vote. Tea Party activists were new to politics. If one was motivated solely by pro-life or pro-gun or pro-tax cut views-one would have been active and involved (and Republican) a decade ago. Or two.
Voters know that if they vote for the anti-tax candidate they have an Ivory soap percentage likelihood of also electing a pro-life and pro-gun legislator. And vice versa. That is why Rahm Emanuel’s 2006 strategy of running self-proclaimed pro-life and/or pro-gun Democrats for congressional seats was so effective. Many voters saw a candidate claiming to be pro-life and they assumed he or she was conservative, or at least, not actively leftist across the board. But with no exceptions they were — behind the false flag they raised — loyal votes for Pelosi and Reid when needed. During the four years of Democrat control of the House and Senate almost all of the phony “Blue Dog Democrats” or “conservative Democrats” were exposed, and all but 26 were turned out of office — cutting their numbers in half. Rahm Emanuel’s Trojan horse was a one-trick pony.
So what about foreign policy and national defense?
If you vote for the Republican you know he won’t favor tax hikes. But what about his view of U.S.-China relations? How many carrier groups does he believe America needs?
If you vote for the Republican you know he won’t spend taxpayer dollars funding Planned Parenthood and abortions. How long does he think U.S. troops should occupy Iraq and Afghanistan? Does he see a role for America in deciding who should run Kashmir?
Given the importance of national defense and foreign policy, why are those issues not as clear in elections as taxes, abortion, and guns? And now, thanks to the Tea Party, government spending?
ONE REASON FOR THE LACK of definition is because there is no National Right to Life Committee or Susan B. Anthony List focused on defense. There is no National Rifle Association or Americans for Tax Reform drawing clear lines in the foreign policy sand for candidates and voters. Voters know that on guns, babies, and taxes the professed position of a candidate will be monitored by national groups and therefore once elected a candidate is unlikely to shift his or her position.
This situation developed over time. The Republican Party was not always the pro-life and anti-tax party. Reagan signed legislation in California to liberalize abortion laws. Goldwater voted against the 1964 Kennedy tax cut.
Over the years pro-life groups highlighted which candidates were pro-life or pro-abortion. Among voters who actually cast their votes on that issue there was an advantage for the pro-life position. The issue brought Catholic and evangelical voters across the aisle from the Democratic Party — tentatively at first, and then permanently.
Similarly, the Taxpayer Protection Pledge of Americans for Tax Reform had 100 House members and 20 senators commit in 1986. Today 97.5 percent of Republicans in the House and 85 percent of Republicans in the Senate sign and keep the Taxpayer Protection Pledge.
A man of faith in a godless age is hitting Americans where it hurts.
Mr. and Mrs. American Spectator Reader, let P.J. O’Rourke talk sense to your kids.
In Britain, defending your property can get you life.
The debacle of this president’s administration is both a cause and a symptom of the decline of American values. Unless Congress impeaches him, that decline will go on unchecked. An eminent jurist surveys the damage and assesses the chances for the recovery of our culture.
It won’t take long for conservatives to scratch this presidential wannabe off their 2008 scorecard.
The American Christmas, like the songs that celebrate it, makes room for everybody under the rainbow. Is that why so many people seem to be hostile to it?
Was the President done in by the economy, or by the politics of the economy?