As bad as the congressional Republicans are, the Democrats would be worse.
That's the argument one hears trotted out again and again as to why it would be foolhardy for conservatives to sit these elections out. And for good reason: While other arguments may attract certain conservative subsets, this is the only argument that virtually every American conservative can accept as being at least plausible even if not entirely convincing. The record of the current Congress, and for that matter every Congress since 1998, is bad enough -- big-spending enough, self-absorbed enough, anti-reformist enough, feckless enough -- that it is hard to make a positive case for more of the same. Hence the need for the argument in the alternative.
In short, Republicans can tell conservatives this: Vote for us, because those other guys really stink.
Oddly enough, it might just be a winning message -- or at least one that limits the GOP's losses. For one thing, it almost assuredly has the virtue of being true.
Courtesy of NRO's The Corner, House Majority Leader John Boehner makes a compelling case that a Donkey Party ascension would give all taxpayers good reason to watch their wallets. Key House Democrat Charlie Rangel, who would chair the tax-writing Ways & Means Committee if Democrats gain a House majority, said the other day that he "cannot think of one" of President Bush's tax cuts that deserves to be renewed. Rangel's words taken at face value mean that the marriage penalty would be re-worsened, the death tax made worse, child tax credits eliminated, and even the tax breaks for families of fallen troops would be halted.
Then there is spending. As TAS's Philip Klein brilliantly explained last week, in time of a military operation in Iraq so strongly opposed by the left, the price for continuing the effort would quite literally be exorbitant. Klein rightly adjudged to be likely "a compromise whereby President Bush gets the Iraq spending he wants, but only if he agrees to a budget that grants more domestic spending to the Democrats' pet projects."
Of course, that's if a Congress in a new party's hands would allow the mission in Iraq to be won at all. Rangel, for one, was quoted in the Hill last week hinting broadly that he would push to cut off all funding for the mission. More broadly, Democrats are all over the map about when and how to pull American troops out of Iraq, but I have yet to see a single leading Democratic candidate say a single word about how to achieve victory there. It's as if the very idea of "victory" is not even in their mindsets. And the lefty blogosphere that seems to be so dominant in that party can fairly be characterized as going even further: Not only do its adherents not have a plan for American victory in Iraq, but they actually think our very cause is ignoble and deserving of defeat. (With my apologies in advance for the language): For instance, one recent commenter on the "My Left Wing" blog advised in his subject heading that we should "Remove the diseased American Penis from the Raped Vagina of Iraq," because that's "what you hope any rapist will do after raping their victim. Instead of hanging around." The commenter ends by writing of these United States that "This is a salacious nation that offers nothing."
Famed leftist anti-war protester Cindy Sheehan said in January that it is possible that President George Bush is "10 times the bigger terrorist than Osama bin Laden," and appeared at a friendly press conference with thuggish Venezuelan dictator Hugo Chavez. Yet Democrats in high places continued to embrace her -- as in when she appeared as the guest of honor at a fundraiser for the legal defense fund of longtime Democratic Rep. Jim McDermott.
It's hard to trust the defense of the United States to a party that so openly indulges people who don't think the Unites States is worth defending.
But while the political left may not be interested in fighting terrorists, it clearly is interested in attacking President George W. Bush. Radical Rep. John Conyers of Michigan, who would be chairman of the House Judiciary Committee if the Democrats re-take control of that chamber, has made no secret of his desire to impeach Bush for alleged misdeeds concerning Iraq. Indeed, the official summary of his committee staff's minority report called "The Constitution in Crisis," released this summer, already reads like articles of impeachment.
Surely the American people don't want to endure another impeachment crisis -- especially over what is far less a legal matter (and a trumped-up one at that) than a policy dispute. To understand the new paroxysm Conyers wants to put the country through, one need only consider that the very first words of his personal introduction to the report are: "Scandals such as Watergate and Iran-Contra...."
The party of the left is just as out of tune with most Americans on a host of other issues as well. Take immigration, for example. Is there any doubt that a Congress controlled by the party of the left would go beyond even President Bush's "guest worker" proposal and work to grant direct amnesty to millions of illegal aliens?
On issue after issue, conservatives could be sure that a Democratic Congress would push, sometimes successfully, for policies anathema to conservatives, and would block, even more effectively than now, policies that conservatives support.
Energy exploration? Nope.
Government price controls on medicines? Yes.
Greater ballot security? Nope. Voting by felons? Yes.
Increasing regulation by government agencies? A push for greater prevalence of abortion (even partial-birth) on demand? Greater use of government takings of private property? Race-based privileges and benefits? Yes, yes, yes, and yes.
Judges who think the Constitution means what it says and that its meaning doesn't change without formal amendment? Perish the thought.
And so on, right down the line. Conservatives can honestly say that the liberals who dominate the Democratic Party are in favor of everything conservatives abhor, and oppose everything conservatives hold dear. As disappointed as conservatives are with Republicans in Congress, conservatives can't make the same blanket statement about the Grand Old Solons.
So the Republican message this fall could boil down to this: Don't you dare elect those soft-on-defense, tax-increasing, big-spending, impeachment-obsessed, radical-coddling, amnesty-offering, oil-shortage-causing, socialized-medicine-pushing, felon-voting, property-confiscating, race-hustling, activist-judging, partial-birth-abortioning Democrats.
It might just work.
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