Saturday, January 21, 2006

"Republicans have a post-9/11 view of the world. And Democrats have a pre-9/11 view of the world."

So said Karl Rove in a speech vowing to make national security the central issue in the 2006 elections.

Well, there’s a surprise. And here I thought Republicans would make ethics the central issue. Really, all the Republicans have left is the War on Terror. The tax cuts are passed. Social security reform is dead. Smaller government is abandoned. And running on “cleaning up congress” would be laughable.

Oh sure, there will be the usual demagogic rhetoric over homosexuals and abortion, but those are all hot air issues that mobilize the base during elections but are difficult if not impossible to craft legislation around. In any district or state where exciting the base isn’t enough, Republicans will have to win swing-voters. And swing-voters have an annoying habit of caring about substantive issues.

So, will the War on Terror be enough? It’s too early to tell, but if there is no attack on U.S. soil and if Iraq continues its slow march forward (perceived by many to be a quagmire), then national security might not be the top concern for swing voters. Instead, it could be healthcare or jobs or a desire to clean-up congress—all losers for Republicans. In fact, it’s hard to imagine an issue other than national security which would benefit Republicans.

Of course, the Democrats could screw it up. They could insist on focusing on the Iraq war and foreign affairs. Those are important issues to debate, but those are debates Republicans will win amongst most swing voters.

Democrats would do well to ignore whatever tricks Karl Rove pulls and instead craft a coherent narrative centered around domestic issues. The Republicans don’t have a lot to run on. Let’s see if the Democrats can take advantage.


Blogger Robert Rouse said...

It gives me pause to wonder if another attack on American soil during the Bush presidency would be a good thing or a bad thing for the GOP. On the one hand, they could continue with their "watch out or the Arab boogie men will get you" routine and frighten middle America into sticking with the Republicans or it would show us that Bush's efforts to protect us aren't really working and we need to try something new. Who really knows?

12:05 AM  

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