Many months before it became common media fare, I wrote here that polls showed political winds shifting to the Democrats. That’s been thanks largely to the Republicans’ unwillingness to take on immigration and other issues important to Americans. Now their majority power is in peril.
The question is why. Why should voters allow the Democrats to take control of the U.S. House of Representatives, and possibly even the Senate?
Let’s look at the issues. First, Iraq. Support for the war is low. Less reported is that surveys indicate a general unwillingness by Americans to strike our tents in Iraq and just go home.
When and how do Democrats believe we should leave? They know civil war and increased regional stability would result if the United States simply quits. It’s far-fetched to try to persuade anyone that the supposedly more compassionate Democrats would, in essence, sign the death warrant of the entire Iraqi nation.
The Republicans have no plan to effectively exit Iraq. Neither do Democrats. So this colossal issue is a political draw.
The second issue is the culture of corruption in Washington. Names like Tom DeLay, Mark Foley and Bob Ney are too familiar to many people. The GOP has had its share of scoundrels.
But what about Democratic Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid? He conveniently made a cool million bucks off the sale of land he didn’t personally own. The sale was never properly reported until the press uncovered the deal. Looks like the muck in Washington, D.C., is greasing wheels on both sides of the partisan aisle. Call this sordid issue another draw politically.
The third issue is one that really moves Americans — illegal immigration. Unquestionably, congressional Republicans have played footsie for too long on this.
But let’s give credit where it’s due. At least they passed something that moves us in the direction of securing our borders.
As for Bush’s so-called "amnesty plan," it’s gotten nowhere with House GOP leadership, and the Republicans are suffering in public sentiment because of the president’s position.
What would the Democrats have us do? Expatriate every illegal in the country? Of course not. If anything, a renewed Republican House would be more likely to pass additional tough reforms than a Democratic House. Faced with having to make a policy decision as the majority party, the Democrats would likely drift toward amnesty.
The fourth issue is the economy. Hmmm, let’s see. Overall growth continues, and at a pace slow enough to contain inflation. Oil prices have dropped substantially. The stock market hit an all-time high this week. Americans continue to spend money. The housing "crash" has actually been a gradual — and much-needed — market correction. Might current political leadership be a common thread in all this?
The fifth and final issue is terrorism — the most exploited issue in politics. Recall in 2002 when President Bush named the "Axis of Evil" — Iraq, Iran and North Korea. He was roundly denounced for arbitrarily picking on those nations. Now, Iran and North Korea are energetically forging ahead with nuclear weaponry.
Currently, despite charges of "cowboy diplomacy," Bush is actually trying to work with the United Nations to build a consensus to deal with these rogue nations. I believe he is showing great restraint.
The possibility must be considered that terrorists could get nuclear weapons from countries like Iran and North Korea. How many voters honestly believe the best way to curtail the chances of that happening are through Jimmy Carter-like appeasement approaches that Democrats might adopt if they’re in power?
Here’s the skinny, folks: The Republicans have held power for too long, and grown cocky and lazy. Bush strutted around defiantly. Republican leadership took a Nixonian, siege-mentality approach to the press. Bad things got worse. Now they may lose Congress.
Even so, absent the issue of personalities, political style and the like, a neutral scorecard based on policies makes at least a modest case to return the GOP to power.
Unfortunately for the Republicans, that case has been buried in a blizzard of negative media and poor public-relations moves by the GOP. Only a miracle thaw will reveal it in time to rescue America’s majority party.