Monday, November 08, 2004

 

You say you want a revolution?

John Fund offers sensible, sobering words of caution to Republicans celebrating the president’s victory last week. While many of us have seen the Red and Blue Map, which gives the impression that a Republican tide has swept the country, that graphic is a little misleading. Note the “cartograms,” which tell the more accurate story -- the unsurprising news that high-density areas vote blue; the rest votes red. But note something else described by Fund -- a series of impressive statewide victories by Democrats, especially in Minnesota. Democrats have retaken an overall lead in the number of state legislative seats nationwide. The lead is a paltry six seats, but it’s a lead.

Fund’s report dramatizes the promise and challenges facing George W. Bush. The president has a real chance to rejigger voting patterns nationwide. Exit polls indicate new strength for the president among Catholic, Hispanic and evangelical voters, not to mention married women. If he can consolidate those gains, and continue chipping away at the ridiculously lopsided Democratic lead among black voters, he will have cobbled together the basis of a new coalition built on several key pillars:

Freedom at home and abroad

o Freedom at home through reduced government regulation and taxation, and the transfer of the power to make key decisions about health-care expenditures and retirement investments. With any luck, those issues won’t be government’s call anymore; they’ll be yours.

o Freedom abroad by taking on Islamo-fascism and paving the way to democratic government throughout the Middle East and Asia. The carrot here is the promise of commerce; the stick, the threat of pre-emption.

Respect for traditional virtues

o Years ago, Gertrude Himmelfarb made the point that it makes more sense when discussing a nation’s moral core to use the term “virtues,” instead of “values,” a word that may too easily be applied to changeable financial transactions and mushy, relativistic fads of the day.

Note that the Founders talked incessantly of virtue, not of values. The President is a virtue guy, not, as MoDo and others fear, because he wants to become a Petro-mullah, but because he appreciates things that count -- such as, for instance, the institution of marriage. Traditional virtues include hard work, thrift, concern for others, and the like. Bush II is likely to tackle federal programs that whittle away at one’s ability to chart one’s fate -- and also to take responsibility for one’s actions. Such reforms would include not only private savings components to social security and medical savings accounts, but other long-overdue blockbusters:

§ School choice
§ A flat tax
§ Judicial nominees more interested in rendering the Constitution than appeasing the editorial board of The New York Times.

Principled internationalism

o The United Nations has become Disneyland for Despots. It took the Kofi Corps months to discern genocide in Darfur, and could require years to acknowledge the Oil-for-Food debacle. The latest violence in the Ivory Coast marks yet another failure for U-N “peace-keepers.”

While the striped-pants set recoiled in horror when W insisted that the U-N Security Council honor its own resolutions in Iraq, he was right: If a global organization dedicated to human rights cannot stand up for human rights, but can become a magnet for bribery and corruption, what good is it? George W. Bush has rediscovered the U-N’s organizing ideal: Liberal Democracy. It has become the ideological centerpiece of his foreign policy. But unlike Jimmy Carter, who picked out the same centerpiece, Bush is every bit as realistic as Kissinger and the neo-Metternichs. Hence, principled internationalism.

o The president not only is taking on bad guys; he also has tried (sometimes) to advance the cause of internationalism through support for free-trade. One hopes that the idiotic first-term embrace of steel quotas was a mere and temporary misstep.

Compassionate multiculturalism:

The good news is that race-baiting is dead. Younger Americans don’t give a rip about revisiting Selma. They have figured out something their parents refuse to admit: The Civil Rights Movement was a stirring success. If Republicans can stop patronizing black voters with cheesy appeals to welfare spending and other such idiocy, the GOP might develop real rainbow appeal. Immigrants understand the message; now is the time to start talking directly – no bad imitations of Jive Talk, if you please – to black voters of all income groups. The values/enterprise message works in every demographic hamlet in America except high-income Snob-urbs. So take the message to the streets!


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