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Sunday, May 04, 2008

How Bush Destroyed the Winning Coalition

Ever since Ronald Reagan put together a winning coalition in 1980 of social/religious conservatives, economic conservatives, limited government libertarians, those who believe U.S. defense should be the strongest in the world, and conservative Democrats who are disgruntled with their Party, Republicans have enjoyed the longest era of success they've had in modern times.

It would be redundant for me to enumerate those successes here as I have written often of the resounding success of the Reagan Revolution. Suffice it to say that the Reagan ideology probably saved the Republic from continued decline and eventual destruction.

Yet, all it took to rip this coalition apart was two terms of George W. Bush.

Bush has perhaps pulled off the single biggest hoax in politics since Richard Nixon. He ran twice as a Reagan conservative but has governed as a moderate, elitist Republican in the tradition of his father, George H.W. Bush, and other GOP moderates such as Nelson Rockefeller and Gerald Ford.

During the first Bush term, this fact was hidden by the nation's focus on terrorism and the war in Iraq and Afghanistan. But during the second term those issues had faded from public consciousness a bit, allowing the light to peer through so as to illuminate the true Bush ideology.

Bush has adhered to the principles of the Reagan Coalition on only two fronts--the tax cuts and abortion. Even when it comes to the War in Iraq, the President has failed to consider the enormous strain his policies have placed on the American military, which was not prepared in terms of overall manpower to conduct two separate fronts in the War on Terror.

Reagan believed that one must first build up the country's military strength in terms of new and effective weapons--and modern gear for the soldiers--and in terms of increasing the number of men and women who serve in the armed forces.

Certainly a President is not always afforded the luxury of having the time to do these things before engaging our military in battle. 9/11 was an event that could not be foreseen in any specific, definite sense. But Bush's failure was not responding to the attack. His mistake is that even after engaging our military we still did not succeed in the necessary strengthening of arms and personnel.

The result is a military that has been drained, used-up, overworked, and under-compensated.

Nonetheless, Bush still presided over a massive increase in the size and scope of government, even as our military suffered. And this is precisely where the President committed what is tantamount to heresy within the Reagan Coalition--a libertarian, small government conservative would not support such a massive buildup of government power and authority.

Add to this the Bush penchant for kicking in the teeth those who put him in office, such as supporting D.C.'s gun ban, allowing the ATF to continue to intimidate, harass, and crush the firearms industry, and failing to stop the flow of illegal aliens into the country and put the clamps on 'sanctuary cities.'

Because of Mr. Bush's willingness to ignore the policies that gave the GOP such enormous success, he has become perhaps the most unpopular President in U.S. history, and he has been dragging down the GOP with him.

For this reason we are stuck with John McCain, who in some ironic twist of fate is probably the one Republican who has the best chance of winning the White House precisely because he has been willing to oppose Bush and his Party on various issues.

Granted, some of McCain's views are certainly anathema to Reagan conservatives, but the public perception is that he is a good guy who thinks for himself. The masses generally do not understand the nuances of policy. All they know is McCain has stood against Bush and other Republicans who are not so popular at present.

The bottom line is that we are stuck with McCain because Bush has nearly destroyed the Reagan Coalition. And if McCain is able to pull in some Democrats with him it won't be because they are 'Reagan Democrats' but because they support some of McCain's more liberal ideas and refuse to support Hillary or Obama because of the ill feelings the Democrats' primary season has evoked.

To be sure, the remnants of the Coalition are still there, although scattered apart in political never-never land. The 'blue dog' Democrats are ample proof of that. All it would take for the Coalition to receive a breath of new life is a candidate who can inspire and rekindle the patriotic spirit that brought us all together in the first place.


TexasFred said...

True, every word of it, and the sad part is, we don't have a candidate that is even close to bringing this nation together...

Excellent piece...

Welshman said...

Thanks for your kind words. And yes, this year's choices leave many of us distressed...