Democrats in Lansing, Mich., are nowhere near the far end of the liberal-o-meter as are Democrats in San Francisco, Calif.
So while Rick Santorum is taking heat for encouraging Democrats in Michigan to vote for him in Tuesday’s primary, he is actually using a playbook that the GOP should adopt in the general election.
And that is: Pit “working class” Democrats against the extreme radicals who populate the activist wing of the Democratic Party.
Rank-and-file union members, for instance, are just as disgusted with President Obama’s decision to punt on the Keystone pipeline as are conservative Republicans around the country.
“Instead of celebrating their victory by hugging a tree, they should hug a jobless construction worker because they’re the ones who are going to need it,” fumed the Laborers’ International Union of North America.
“Once again the President has sided with environmentalists instead of blue-collar construction workers, even though environmental concerns were more than adequately addressed,” they added.
“Blue-collar construction workers across the U.S. will not forget this.”
Nor should they.
As HUMAN EVENTS has reported, the Keystone project would have created nearly 20,000 jobs immediately, and, according to Gary Doer, the Canadian ambassador to the United States, the pipeline would’ve also resulted in “100,000 additional indirect jobs in services and supplies.”
And even if Doer’s estimate is a bit inflated, there’s no doubt that Obama’s approval of the pipeline would’ve been an immediate jolt to an economy that is experiencing a painfully slow recovery. After all, the proposed project is 1,711 miles in length that would originate in Canada, funnel through the Midwest and end up in the Gulf Coast.
In other words: the granddaddy of all shovel-ready projects. And, unlike Obama’s first shovel-ready project that, by his own admission wasn’t exactly shovel-ready , this project lives up to the name.
And, unlike the green scheme Solyndra, the pipeline isn’t a $500 million foolish gamble with taxpayer cash.
Besides the Laborers International Union of North America, three other labor unions would’ve been contracted by TransCanada to build the pipeline: United Association of Journeymen and Apprentices of the Plumbing and Pipefitting Industry of the United States and Canada, the Teamsters and the International Union of Operating Engineers.
Which brings us back to Santorum.
Reaching out to Democrats via “robocalls” is clearly a deliberate move to squeeze past Romney in Michigan. And while Santorum is playing up the fact that Romney favored the Wall Street but not the auto bailout, there’s something to be learned of this vote-getting tactic. “We know that if we can get a Reagan Democrat in the primary, we can get them in the fall,” said Hogan Gidley, a Santorum spokesman.
The underlying ideological attitudes of Americans strengthen that calculation.
A recent Gallup survey shows that Americans are far more likely to describe themselves as conservative (40 percent) as they are liberal (only 21 percent). In fact, liberalism has taken such a hit over the last three years that the number of people identifying themselves as liberal in even Rhode Island decreased five percentage points from 2010 to 2011.
Overall, there is only one state — just one — where liberals outnumber conservatives: Massachusetts.
And in Michigan, conservatives outnumber liberals by a 39-to-21 margin, even though residents are more likely to declare their party affiliation as Democratic.
While Barack Obama is framing this election cycle in the Occupy Wall Street vein, the truth is that the policies of this administration have resulted in economic realities that hit the so-called 99 percent the hardest: gas prices that are doubled from what they were three years ago, a decline in household income, costly new regulations, and 12.8 million Americans unemployed.
So why not create a wedge between blue-collar Democrats and the liberal zealots who drive Obama’s decision making? It is smart politics and, more importantly, has the benefit of being true.