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My personal musings about anything that gets on my radar screen--heavily dominated by politics.
|For some reason, the results from Iowa have really gotten under my skin. I think, now, that there may be more to the Huckabee/Obama win than first met the eye--something more of a pattern than a unique Iowa aberration.|
Back in June I wrote the following:
What Senator Obama has managed to highlight is a perceptual difficulty that has bumfuzzled the Republican Party for as long as I can remember, and that's about 30 years (though, admittedly, a few of those years are hazier than the rest). Conservatives have been perfectly consistent over the years in pointing out the limited ability of the government to solve all the country's problems--and that has been construed in the press and, well, everywhere else, to mean that WE DON'T CARE ABOUT THE country's problems. . . .
We can no longer afford to cede this ground to the Democrats. And make no mistake, they're coming for THIS GROUND.
And there we have it--I think we know why Huckabee won in Iowa: he chose to fight on THAT ground.
I disagree with how he chooses to fight that particular battle--I disagree strongly!--but the point is that he was fighting for the ground that we Conservatives have ceded to the Democrats for too long.
So while I, and most of the rest of the Right, spend our energies (rightly, I might add) talking about national security and economic growth, that part of the country which is checked out on those issues (since we haven't been attacked in six years--hey, we must be safe, right?) is looking more than ever for someone to appeal to them on the grounds of becoming an army of compassion for their neighbors. And since none of the major Republican candidates can effectively do this (McCain has a different issue set, Rudy is all about security, Romney is too wonkish, and Thompson--well, nobody knows what Thompson is about yet), a minor Republican who can sing this tune twenty ways 'til Sunday can capture the imagination of too large a part of the electorate.
The problem, in the long run, is that we cannot win on this ground. We may--and should--be able to neutralize the advantage the Dems have on this, but if this is the battlefield in November, we lose. Hillary grabbed a hold of this field in her closing statement at tonight's debate [note: can't find a transcript up yet--will provide a link when its available; until then, here is a very rough quote]:
What I find most notable is what we're talking about, and what the Republicans aren't talking about: the squeeze on the middle class, the approaching recession, the effects of global warming, the high costs of energy. These are the issues that matter to the country, and they're not talking about them.
[again, apologies for a VERY rough quote]
And she's right--we aren't talking about them. In some cases, because they're third-tier issues, and in others, because they're not legitimate issues (global warming). But, that notwithstanding, we have to be able to manage this field so that we can make the voters look to the field we want them on.
How do we do that? Well, the smart candidate will spend the next two days in New Hampshire, and then the next several days in Michigan, talking about individual responsibility for the good of the community. They will talk about how a tax cut leaves more money in your pocket for you to do the charitable act the Dems expect the government to do; they will talk about taking the tax burden off of corporations so that thy can hire people; they will talk about judges who are friendly to the good work of excellent organizations like the Boy Scouts and AlAnon.
Again, it is the approach. Somebody--and it has to be somebody other than Huckabee--has to capture the spirit of community that naturally exists in the Republican Party, and mobilize it to make sure that government doesn't get in the way of that spirit.
Will any of them do this? And is New Hampshire the place to do this? I don't know. But Michigan certainly is, and, as Super Tuesday approaches, there will be many places where this message is welcomed.
Now somebody just has to go out and do it.
For the record: I'm not optimistic.