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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

The Conservative Delusion

Fareen Zakaria’s Newsweek article “The End of Conservatism” makes the short case that GOP leaders are marinating in self-delusion by arguing that their party’s shrinking support is a result of abandonment of conservative principles. Zakaria counters that a combination of events, demographic change and the transformation of public opinion have rendered Reagan-Thatcher hard-line conservatism obsolete, creating a world in which “conservative slogans sound weirdly anachronistic.” Zakaria’s read on the Democrats’ prospects is also on target, and he quotes TDS co-editor Ruy Teixeira and his co-author John Judis:

“The Emerging Democratic Majority,” written in 2002, makes the case that perhaps for these broad reasons, the conservative tilt in U.S. politics is fast diminishing. It gained a brief respite after 9/11, when raised fears and heightened nationalism played to Republican advantages. But the trends are clear. Authors John B. Judis and Ruy Teixeira note that several large groups have begun to vote Democratic consistently—women, college-educated professionals, youth and minorities. With the recent furor over immigration, the battle for Latinos and Asian-Americans is probably lost for the Republicans. Both groups voted solidly Democratic in 2006.

While many hard line conservatives have problems with John McCain’s policies on issues like torture and immigration reform, Zakaria is overstating the case in saying of McCain that “He seems to understand that a new world requires new thinking.” McCain’s advocacy of open-ended occupation of Iraq and his support of escalating US military presence in Iraq is anything but new thinking. Ditto for a broad range of McCain’s polices on such issues as the environment, women’s rights, health care and education. Republican voters who want some leaders capable of ‘new thinking’ can best send their party the message by voting Democratic in November, as many have already done in the primaries.

2 comments on “The Conservative Delusion

  1. Matthew Cowan on

    Conservatism failed. The fundamental beliefs either turned out not to work or were so politically difficult to try that the GOP never tried them and were never going to.
    The trickle down economic theory is never even mentioned anymore. Aggressive use of force brought us nothing but trouble. School vouchers produced no miracles. Abstinence education didn’t lower teen pregnancy rates. The list of failed ideas goes on.

  2. links on

    The reason why some Republicans are voting in the Dem primaries where possible is far from clear and it is far from clear what will happen to their votes after a general election campaign. I think the demographic analysis in EDM is mostly correct, but the trajectory of the white working class under this scenario is also far from clear. They will probably decide the next election in Ohio and although that state has trended Democratic after a period of outrageous Republican corruption, Ted Strickland and Sharrod Brown’s image seems closer to McCain than Obama. While McCain won’t be able to consistently use illegal immigration as a wedge issue, as long as he doesn’t tell them their jobs aren’t coming back, he can use his strong image to win these “Reagan Democrats” in November and perhaps deliver the election to the Reps once again. I am skeptical that Obama can win this constituency in November. If Obama wins Ohio–and wins the blue collar demographic–it would be worth checking to see how many just stayed home….


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