- The Washington Times - Friday, May 14, 2010

A lot of hay has been made of House Minority Leader John Boehner’s recent prediction that as many

as 100 House seats are up for grabs in November’s midterm election. Republicans are already licking their chops at the prospect of regaining one or both houses of Congress. It’s important that they do. If for no other reason, less damage can be done by a divided government. If Democrats retain their majorities, there’s no way to stop the Obama’s administration’s destruction of what makes America special.

There’s no doubt voters want different change than the kind the O Force has wrought. President Obama’s free-falling approval ratings make clear that the public generally agrees the country is on the wrong track. But to convince Americans to give them another chance, Republicans have to convince the country they won’t blow it. Winds are blowing the elephants’ way, but opportunity could blow right by them if Republicans don’t put forth an articulate vision and a comprehensive plan for taking the nation in a dramatically different direction. Just being the alternative isn’t enough.

The reform impulse spreading across America through the Tea Party movement benefits the Grand Old Party. Not only do these energized citizens want to throw most of the current bums out (and more of those bums happen to be Democrats at the moment), there is a natural confluence between what the Tea Partiers are demanding and what Republicanism traditionally has offered. “Republican ideals of economic freedom and limited, but effective government have always appealed to voters,” Republican National Committee spokesman Doug Heye told The Washington Times. “Under Barack Obama and [House Speaker] Nancy Pelosi - as both taxes and unemployment have risen and more Americans have given up on that key Obama word, ‘hope’ - these ideals take on a new urgency and necessity.”

The fact of the matter is that most Americans hold dear to principles the left likes to claim are espoused by a lunatic fringe. Surveys consistently show that a growing majority of Americans want lower taxes, less government intervention in their lives, more abortion restrictions to protect the unborn and fewer gun controls so they can protect themselves and their families. These issues, which now are seen as bedrock Republican positions, were not always so partisan. But as Rep. Bart Stupak, Michigan Democrat, proved when he sold out his promise not to vote for Obamacare if it funded abortion, pro-life Democrats are as mythical as unicorns. The same rule applies to tax cuts, traditional marriage law, a strong defense and a host of other issues, more or less to the same degree.

It was not always thus. There once were lots of Democrats, particularly Rust Belt blue-collar workers, who were conservative on just about everything but labor unions. These culturally conservative, anti-communist Democrats defected in huge numbers to support Ronald Reagan in 1980 and 1984. Macomb County, Mich., the benchmark Reagan Democrat county which largely is composed of ethnic autoworkers, gave Reagan a larger share of the vote in 1980 (66 percent) than it did Kennedy in 1960 (63 percent). Where did all these sensible Democrats go? Most already have emigrated to the GOP or became independents; many are protesting out-of-control government at Tea Party rallies. How they got there and why they left their ancestral home in the Democratic Party is a sad saga that is told masterfully in Mark Stricherz’s 2007 book, “Why the Democrats Are Blue.” The gist is that middle-class men and women were chased away by the rise of secular liberalism as the Democratic Party’s sole orthodoxy.

Mr. Stricherz chronicles the moral decay that became acceptable during the 1960s and took over Democratic ideology and institutions through the 1970s. By 1968, with anti-war protests raging on campus, party bosses decided to trade the working man for a larger, ascendent demographic: the college hippie. A party once dominated by teetotalers and adherents of old-time religion (whether that be Baptist or Catholic) morphed into the platform for amnesty (for draft dodgers), acid and abortion.

In subsequent years, Democrats have tried to replace the ethnic middle class with greater numbers of minorities, recent immigrants and members of fringe special-interest groups, such as those pushing same-sex “marriage” and drug legalization. Future electoral success thus depends on two dodgy factors: that the party can buy loyalty from newly arrived Hispanics by getting them addicted to the crack that is the welfare state; and that the culture as a whole degrades quickly to keep pace with the moral degradation of the Democratic Party, thus neutralizing the political importance of abortion, homosexuality, pornography, drugs and other moral issues.

Democrats are blue because they put all their eggs in one basket, and that basket has a hole in it. While the so-called People’s Party gets more liberal, fewer people identify themselves as liberals. An April 12 CBS News/New York Times poll showed almost as many Americans identify themselves as Tea Partiers (18 percent) as those who admit to being liberal (20 percent). The demographic trend is clear: Voters are abandoning the Democrats as Democrats continue to abandon normal American values. The culture war sparked this Democratic implosion. To take advantage of the Democrats’ demise, Republicans must continue to fight that war.

Brett M. Decker is editorial page editor of The Washington Times.

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