There’s much talk everywhere lately about the demise of the Democratic party as a force in electoral politics, and indeed, I’m somewhat worried about it myself. I think that the problems stem mainly from a lack of leadership and the lack of a message for people to rally behind. Not that Republicans have a great message either, but let’s face it, they stand strongly in favor of looking out for yourself, your family, and your country — that’s the Republican message on just about everything. So in the absence of a compelling cause for more magnanimous action or attitudes (which is what liberals should stand for), Republicans win by default. They also have the anger thing going for them. Republicans and, more accurately, conservative entertainers, do a good job of misleading people so that they become outraged about conservative issues and then exploit that for votes and dollars. They’re better at it than Democrats.
That said, having spoken with my family in Texas about Bush, I’m seeing people start to see both he and the Republicans for what they really are. All of the people I’ve spoken to are definitely red staters — generally socially conservative and pretty strongly pro-Republican. All of them voted for Bush twice for governor and once for President. One of them works in public schooling and only after going to a big seminar realized that one part of the Republican agenda is to destroy public education as we know it. One other has said that they will not vote for Bush regardless of who the Democrats put up against him, because he scares them. These are voters who I would have said could not have been won over to the Democratic side in the next election or in any election. So I think there’s more going on than the cursory analysis reveals.
Update: as an astute reader rightfully pointed out, the people mentioned above have not been won over to the Democratic party. In fact, chances are they won’t be. However, the point is that even among the most loyal Republicans, George Bush and others can give away votes through their behavior. To be honest, I would be much happier if the Republican party shifted back toward the New England wing than if a few Republicans bailed on the party and voted Democratic in the next election cycle.