Right now, the smart money is on a Hillary presidency, 57 Democrats in the Senate, and a very healthy Democratic majority in the House.
So what happened to the Republicans? Speculation is rife. David Brooks thinks it's because the Republicans abandoned something called Burkean "dispositional" conservatism for "creedal conservativism."
But suburban, Midwestern and many business voters are dispositional conservatives more than creedal conservatives. They care about order, prudence and balanced budgets more than transformational leadership and perpetual tax cuts. It is among these groups that G.O.P. support is collapsing.
But that doesn't make sense. A lot of "suburban, Midwestern, and business voters" are no longer conservative at all on social issues like gay rights, women's rights, race relations, and abortion. That's much of the reason why suburban voters in the North went for Gore by 20 points and why the inner suburbs around cities like Philadelphia have become Democratic enclaves.
The current "progress" of conservativism hasn't helped the Republican Party either. With conservatives becoming "anti-science" on evolution, and global warming, "anti-medicine" in cases like Terry Schiavo, and generally "anti-competence," the Democrats are looking like the party of knowledge, progress, and sanity to suburban voters.
This is what former Republican John Cole of Balloon Juice (via Glenn Greenwald) is picking up on.
Seriously- what does the current Republican party stand for? Permanent war, fear, the nanny state, big spending, torture, execution on demand, complete paranoia regarding the media, control over your body, denial of evolution and outright rejection of science, AND ZOMG THEY ARE GONNA MAKE US WEAR BURKHAS, all the while demanding that in order to be a good American I have to spend most of
every damned day condemning half my fellow Americans as terrorist appeasers.
But Cole ignores the failure of the war in Iraq. As long as the right-wing could use the war in Iraq to promote an image of themselves as the party of masculinity and toughness, they could trick voters into forgiving them for their many peculiarities and vote Republican.
With the failure of the war, the Republicans also lost the benefit of the doubt on social and economic issues. Where swing voters, independents, and moderates might once have tolerated the social bigotries, hypocrisies, corruption, and general weirdness of the right, now these kinds of voters are openly contemptuous of conservatives and conservatism.
John Cole gives us a good idea.
The threat of higher taxes in the short term isn’t enough to keep me from voting out crazy people and voting for sane people with whom I merely disagree regarding policy. Hillarycare doesn’t scare me as much as Frank Gaffney having a line to the person with the nuclear football or Dobson and company crafting domestic policy.Cole's comment on taxes is the flip side of the old line where somone says that "I'd pay to see them play" in relation to sports teams and bands. In the case of the Republicans, Cole and other moderates and swing voters are willing to pay higher taxes if that means getting the Republicans out of office.
In other words, many moderates and swing voters are willing to "pay their own money" to not see the Republicans any more.
Is there a higher form of insult?