Not Ideology, CompetenceIn 1988 we saw an election in which two candidates with zero charisma ran against each other. The republican, George H.W. Bush, had no recognizable ideology, but was running in the shadow of a towering ideologue, Ronald Reagan. The democrat, Michael Dukakis, another liberal from Taxachusetts, saw his challenge as one of countering the legacy of that great conservative icon. Thus, in his acceptance speech, little Mike said
[T]his election isn’t about ideology. It’s about competence. It’s not about overthrowing governments in Central America. It’s about creating good jobs in middle America.Thus Dukakis threw away his winning issue, and seized upon his formula for failure. It is amazing to see the democrats throwing away another election for the same reason. It may well be that the ideology of the Left is a loser among American voters, and thus their fear of running on it is justified. But what if they are wrong? In any case, don't the American people have the right to vote on the differences? Isn't this election year choice a false one?
The democrats had their chance to nominate a candidate who embodied their core beliefs, and who was outspoken in his stance on the most important issue of the day. They declined, and instead nominated the candidate who they believed had the best chance to defeat George W. Bush. Implicit in this choice was their belief that Bush is an imbecile, and all they had to do was present the voters with a competent choice, an anti-Bush. Today only the true believers on the Left believe that Kerry would be even a more competent administrator than Bush, and this betrays the blind spot that those on the Left in American politics today have in regard to patriotism or, more accurately, what we believe it is that makes us Americans.
For many years the democrats have ridden to victory at the polls by appealing to victim culture, and the benificiaries of entitlements. Victims and entitlement culture make for a democrat sinecure in many cities and some states, but is a sure loser nationally. That is why republicans have the majority of both houses of Congress, and two thirds of the Statehouses. Their only successful president (i.e. one capable of reelection) since FDR was Clinton, and he ran to the right of both his republican opponents, plus was the only candidate with charisma both times. The democrats have become the victim of their own propaganda. They have successfully painted Bush as a right wing ideologue, and now they can not believe that the electorate is willing to embrace him as such. What a favor they did for the republicans! As a right wing ideologue myself, I can confidently attest that George W. Bush and I can agree on only one single issue and that he is no right wing ideologue. True, that is the most important, indeed the only issue of the day in this time of war. But many democrats are more conservative than Bush.
But ideology is beside the point. In this election there is only one issue. We can all agree that we would rather live in a 9/10 world, before this unpleasantness had been revealed to us. The democrats might be the party to administrate that world. In that world, health care and child care, entitlements and victim reparations are important, and the party that would borrow to increase such transfer payments could garner the lion's share of the vote, since a now fully revealed Bush would, just as happened to his father, see the conservatives stay home on election day. But. We live in a 9/12 world. No amount of Clintonian remonstrations against the "cowardly criminals" will bring back those sleepy days, which many had the temerity to call the end of history. Pandora's box is not only opened, its contents are in plain view for all to see. And, just in case we might forget, along comes a Beslan to remind us. It reminds us that there are many tens of thousands of fanatics who will act in furtherance of the most horrible and violent fantasy of world domination, and will attack us in the most horrible and violent way. Their preferred victim is American children. And the only candidate for president who claims that he will do whatever is possible to protect us from them is George W. Bush.
The American Left has a 40 year record of being the party of "peace," with a well deserved reputation for mistrust (at best) of our military. Today the vast majority of Americans are glad that we have a tough military, and are not afraid to use it. Senator Kerry's campaign is afraid that they will fail to seize power if they tell the truth about their solution to our problem with the Islamic Fascists. Thus, they will not even discuss it. It is 44 days since Senator Kerry has been willing to receive questions from the press, even after promising to submit to same every 30 days. This behavior is beyond dishonest, it is disqualifying. And arrogant. A sitting president could get away with stonewalling the press. A candidate can not. Yet the democrats seem unable to understand this. Because they live in a world of their own, they still believe, many of them, that the perceived incompetence of their opponent is enough to put them over the top. They just don't get it. They are half right. It is about competence, not ideology. But it is not competence in academics or bloviation that they are facing. It is not past competence in 1968, or 1972 that matters. It is competence to apply military force today to destroy those who would blow up and murder American children tomorrow that is the true test of electability in 2004. In that test of competence, George W. Bush wins easily.