Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Dick Morris Says US Skewing Left?

In today's online version of The Hill, Dick Morris makes the rather astonishing claim that America is drifting to the left, largely due to the Bushie's success in pressing the Global War on Terror (GWOT) and lack of attention to hot-button domestic issues at the same time:
It is always dangerous to generalize about ideological trends among the American electorate, since it will always lean right on certain issues (like defense, terrorism and taxes) and hew to the left on others (like healthcare, education, poverty and the environment). But the data are becoming overwhelming that the nation is moving left and is likely to stay that way through at least the 2006 election — and, if President Bush doesn’t adjust, for a lot longer.
Morris' seemingly wacko idea is actually pretty well thought out if you'll read the piece with an open mind. Morris can be spectacularly wrong, but you have to respect his thought processes as his methodology is quite cold and oddly nonpartisan. He reasons that because of the thus-far successful prevention of further 9/11-style attacks, America's short attention span has wandered to other pressing stuff like the increasing healthcare dilemma, etc., which he regards as solid issues of the left.

Well, in our view, they're only solid for two reasons: 1) They tend to involve income redistribution which the Dems always favor and which they always market as "cost-free"; and 2) They have been trumpeted as Democrat-owned issues since the time of Roosevelt, when, in fact, this is not necessarily true.

One thing the Clintonistas taught us was that any issue can be "triangulated" and taken away. Thus, Clinton happily took credit for eliminating the budget deficit and opening up free trade—both issues pushed by the Republicans and which would never have passed without their assistance.

We need to get away from allowing the left to claim certain issues as their own, particularly when there is no historical justification for this. Clinton showed us how, largely via PR, one party can steal another party's signature issue and ride its coattails to victory. Whether Republicans, who historically have proven to be bad politicians (i.e., not pure opportunists like the Dems), can adapt to this model crafted so some extent by Dick Morris for the hated Clinton remains to be seen. But Morris' thoughts on the issue are certainly well worth consideration as we move into the very murky politics of 2006.

The key to continued Republican dominance, in the end, lies in wresting the language of the socio-cultural argument away from the Dems who assume they own these kinds of issues. But we are not totally confident that the Repubs, who tend to neglect things that can't be expressed as zeroes and ones, can latch onto the more right-brain aspects of the language and cultural arguments that may spell the difference between success and failure in the upcoming fall elections. Subtlety was never a Republican strong suit. But it will be crucial to retaining control of Congress in 2006.

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