Towards A Good Samaritan World

Tuesday, September 19, 2006


Bush's approval rating, and Republicans' generic Congressional vote position vis-a-vis Democrats, are both making a recovery. This poll, which is especially favorable to Republicans (44% approval for Bush, 48-48% generic Congressional vote), may be an outlier, but many polls have sent a similar message.

I have mixed feelings about this. Probably it's partly irrational, like rooting for a team, but there are plenty of substantive reasons to like the Republicans. I didn't support the tax cuts in 2001, but now I'm more sympathetic, partly because I've become more libertarian, partly because strong productivity growth makes them seem more affordable. Heavy federal spending, of course, makes tax cuts seem less affordable, but it also makes it seem more urgent to "starve the beast." Of course, federal spending is a reason not to approve of Republicans, but since Democrats never are by no means trying to get to the right of Republicans on the spending issue-- there are all sorts of "liberal programs" for which they haven't dropped their notional support-- that's no reason whatsoever to support Democrats.

Nothing that's happened since 2004 has made me respect the Democrats more. On the contrary. Democrats should have learned from the 2004 election that the country is not with them; that their message, their ideology, does not resonate. They shouldn't even have needed an election to realize that the man 51% of American voters supported in 2004 should be treated with respect by his political opponents, not smeared and demonized. First of all, that's just good manners. Second of all, by attacking Bush, they're insulting the people whose votes they need in order to win. When Arnold Schwarzenegger's referendums got clobbered in California, he told the voters: I've heard you, and I'll change. Democrats insist that voters change their minds, saying, in effect: "We're sorry, we were wrong to vote for Bush and the Republicans in 2004, we'll give you power now." That kind of arrogance is not fitting in a public servant.

But worse than the Bush-hatred is the Democrats' lack of ideas or coherence. Democrats do probably have some idea what beliefs they have in common, they just won't deign to tell us lowly voters those are.

But then there's the immigration issue. Mickey Kaus writes:

Ponnuru (who argued that Republicans should lose) must be willfully ignoring one conspicuous policy initiative that has already passed the Senate, been embraced by the President, and awaits only approval from a Democrat-led House to be signed into law. It wouldn't matter so much if this law, by establishing the principle of a "path to citizenship" for anyone who sneaks into the country to work, wouldn't run the risk of irrevocably changing the nature of the Republic, including the composition of future electorates that would decide whether to repeal it. But it would. ...

What would really "change the nature of the Republic" would be HR 4437, which would turn 5% of the US resident population into felons, legally, even though, morally, they haven't done anything wrong. This would be a huge step backwards in the long American movement-upwards towards social equality, equivalent to the passage of Jim Crow laws in the 1880s. At best. At worst, it would end in some kind of pogroms or ethnic cleanisng. Had this bill become law it would have been the duty of every American patriot to defy it through civil disobedience; in doing so, they would be defending America in just the same way as soldiers who fight against fascist thugs and ethnic cleansing overseas. Indeed, they would be fighting the same enemies. Since it didn't become law, maybe it doesn't matter, but still there's a certain sacrilege to having men who voted for that act walking the floors of Congress every day and representing the world's greatest democracy.

So as much as I dislike the Democrats, I have to hope they win the House this fall. Sadly, the coat-tails of a rebounding President Bush may save the hides of many an undeserving congressional demagogue.


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