Wednesday, January 11, 2006

A Shift Away from Republicans is Not a Shift Towards the Left

Dick Morris believes the nation is becoming more liberal.

The evidence is clear: The generic party ballot for Congress, for example, has now swollen to a 13-point Democratic edge…

A big part of the reason is the success the Bush administration has had in solving and hence diminishing the importance of the Republican agenda. Taxes have been cut, we have not had a terror attack since Sept. 11 and trial lawyers are on the defensive. The issues that remain — energy, environment, healthcare and Social Security — usually are Democratic and liberal.

The drip-drip-drip of Iraqi casualties isn’t helping Bush any, and Rep. Tom DeLay (R-Texas) has done more to hurt the GOP than any Democrat has, but the fundamental reason for the liberal drift is the salience of issues normally identified with the left.

Polls definitely show an increase in support for the Democrats, but I don’t think we should mistake a retreat from the Republicans as a national shift to the left. People want off the elephant and the only animal remaining in the stable is the donkey. That’s not a shift in ideology. That’s a shift in allegiance.

This is not a particularly liberal nation--not in the way liberalism has come to be defined. That's not to say the Democrats can't find success by leaning left, just that they can't sit back and offer up the same tractionless liberal plans that they’ve been peddling for years. And they certainly can't become more liberal and still hope to attract those who are leaving the Republican ranks.

The party that wins will be the party that has something new to say--particularly to those middle-of-the-road voters. As the party out of power, the Democrats have a great opportunity to (as we say in the marketing world) re-brand themselves.

I hope they do. But I’m not optimistic.


Blogger Rob Jackson said...

Actually, I have a little different take than you.

Traditionally thought is that America is more towards the left of center than towards the right. With the rise of Bush, there was this perception that the country shifted to the right and that now it's shifting again more left. I'm not sure all of it is wholly accurate. If it is accurate, it is not for the reasons popularly espoused.

In my mind, the political mainstream of the country doesn't shift much. What shifts is the political party with the charisma.

Charisma has been winning national elections since Kennedy or before and it's a trend that isn't going away anytime soon.

12:55 PM  
Blogger Alan Stewart Carl said...

It depends on your definition of "center" I suppose. I was comparing the U.S. to other Western nations. We are certainly, in terms of our political ideologies, a good deal to the right of most other Western nations. And most of them would consider us not particularly liberal.

But I agree that our parties shift much more than our mainstream. Political ideologies do drift and we do change as a culture, but that is a slow process and not something a few polls can meassure.

1:18 PM  
Blogger RightDemocrat said...

Democrats can win with an emphasis on mainstream social values and economic populism. I think that this combination can appeal to working families that have been alientated by Democratic social liberalism and Republican trickle down economics.

10:25 PM  

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