Why the Democrats Can't Crack the Red Zone
Tony Beam Dr. Tony Beam's Weblog
- 2004 Nov 08
The fallout from last week's historic election continues even as the agenda for President Bush's second term begins to take shape. Enough has been said about the magnitude of the Republican victory (perhaps too much) but what fasinates me is the continued confusion which abounds in the Democrat party over why they suffered such a huge defeat. While consensus is slowly forming among most Democrats that values played a huge role in the election, there seems to be two competing opinions within the party about what to do to avoid another Republican sweep.
On one side you have people like Thomas Frank, Maureen Dowd, and Garry Wills, who have all analyzed the post election data and decided the right course of action for the Democrats is to fight. Since the people who voted for Bush are nothing more than a hybrid brand of extremist, they are calling for a renewed culture war against the right with Michael Moore as the commanding General. Writing in the New York Times, Garry Wills (adjunct professor of history at Northwestern University) says the same fundamentalist zeal which drives Al Qaeda resides in the hearts of American fundamentalists. He says this is why the rest of the world considers Americans so dangerous. "They (the rest of the world) fear jihad, no matter whose zeal is being expressed." So, according to Dr. Wills, American Christians are riding in the same extremist boat as Al Qaeda. In his mind, they must be defeated in the same way America is seeking to defeat the terrorists.
Maureen Dowd, who also appeared in the New York Times says, "Seeing the exit polls, the Democrats immediately started talking about values and religion. Their sudden passion for wooing Southern white Christian soldiers may put a crimp in Hillary's 2008 campaign. Meanwhile, the blue puddle is comforting itself with the expectation that this loony bunch will fatally overreach, just as Newt Gingrich did in the 90's." Ms. Dowd's solution is to hope all the idiots who voted for Bush will cause a political meltdown when their Neanderthal ideas are translated into legislation. And finally, you have Thomas Frank, who believes a Democrat retaking of the red zone states will come when "Democrats confront the cultural populism of the wedge issues with genuine economic populism." In other words, Democrats need to switch the cultural price tags. They need to convince the American electorate what they are really concerned about are economic values and not moral values.
On the other side, you have more moderate Democrats like Rahm Emmanuel who have rejected the slash and burn, all out attack aganist traditional values and is calling for a more balanced approach to retaking the red states. Emaunuel says, "We (the Democrats) need a nominee and a party that is comfortable with faith and values....people aren't going to hear what we say until we know that we don't approach them as Margaret Mead would with an anthropological experiment." Another Democrat political advisor said simply, "Democrats have to go back to Bible School."
Both of these approaches, the all out war against the values of the right and the half-hearted morphing of the Democrats into a values oriented campaign are destined to fail. The first approach will fail because the hearts and minds of the people populating the red states will ever be changed by insults and intellectual elitism. Former Democrat Vice-Presidential candidate Geraldine Ferraro, speaking on Hannity and Combs suggested that if the blue states were removed from the map, the country would lose its cultural refinement and intellectual creativity. Comments like that just won't play in the red states. Hard working, culturally minded, traditional values people will not be lectured or looked down upon by the left. In fact, they would rather have a root canal without Novocain.
Neither will the red states be won over by pseudo-values nor camouflaged conservatism. The values of the red states are rooted in God's Word, the Bible. They flow from a clear understanding that there is a God and we are not Him. John Kerry lost the election because of the critical mass reached by the left over gay marriage, the Janet Jackson wardrobe malfunction, and other cultural issues like the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals rejection of the Pledge of Allegiance, and the move to remove free religious expression from public life. Simply "going to "Bible School" and learning to speak the language of traditional conservatism will not fool the moral moms and faithful fathers in the red states anymore. Values are a matter of the heart as well as the head. To understand what happened in the red states you have to know the difference between political rhetoric which is founded on the shifting sand of pop culture and personal values which flow from a deeply held belief in a sovereign God.