I’m not a political person. And, normally, I don’t use this forum to talk about the politics that do move me (ocassionally) to speak… yell… shout… scream… whatever.
But something important has happened since President Bush’s inauguration. America’s moderates may not be screaming, but they’re in revolt. Many who reluctantly supported the president and the Republicans in 2004 are turning away. The party’s agenda on Social Security, judges and the Terri Schiavo case is out of touch with where moderate voters stand. Worse for Bush and his party, most moderates have a practical, problem-solving view of government and think these issues are far less important than shoring up a shaky economy and improving living standards.
The moderates have rebelled before. This period in American politics is beginning to take on the contours of the years leading up to the 1992 election. That’s when Ross Perot led an uprising of the angry middle and Bill Clinton waged war on the “brain-dead politics of both parties.” Bush’s decision to read the 2004 election as a broad mandate for whatever policies he chose to put forward now looks like a major mistake. In fact, Bush won narrowly in 2004, and he won almost entirely because just enough middle-of-the-road voters decided they trusted him more than they did John Kerry to deal with terrorism.
Which was, of course, a bad bad decision to make.
In light of the revolt of the center, Senate Republican leader Bill Frist sent exactly the wrong signal at the worst possible time by speaking over the weekend to a group of Christian conservatives who see Senate filibusters of judicial nominees as blocking “people of faith” from the courts. The fight over judges is, for pragmatic voters, a distraction from issues that matter. And moderates are uneasy with the pressure some Republicans have sought to bring on judges by way of moving court decisions in a conservative direction. The president, in the meantime, cannot seem to persuade middle-of-the-road Americans that Social Security needs far-reaching changes — or even that Social Security’s troubles constitute one of the most important problems facing the country.
That’s why we may soon see a shift in the GOP’s approach: Shrewd Republican strategists aren’t saying much publicly, but they are seeing some of the same things that Greenberg and Carville are seeing. And those smart Republicans are very worried.
Unfortunately, the voters (who should be worried) aren’t worried, or at least I’m not seeing it. I’ve always considered myself a Democrat, but have had trouble seeing that political party actively support what’s important to me. And the decisions that Republicans have been making lately have me incredibly worried.
What’s a no-nonsense voter to do these days?