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For Democrats to win back the White House, the Democratic Leadership Council (DLC) says the party will have to appeal more to white males, churchgoers and married voters.
Last time around, Al Gore carried only 36 percent of the white male vote. And that was in every category, across all income levels. “Non-college-educated white men, who ought to be a bedrock Democratic constituency based on economics,” says columnist Morton Kondracke, “went for George Bush 63 percent to 34 percent.”
Gore struck out with similar numbers among churchgoers, carrying only 36 percent of those who attend church on a regular basis, to Bush’s 63 percent. In contrast, among those who never set foot in church – except for weddings and funerals – Gore hammered Bush, 61 percent to 30 percent.
And Gore won only 44 percent of all married voters – all races, all incomes. For the Democrats to win the majority of that mainstream vote, argues the DLC, it’s going to take some “values centrism” – things like support for bigger tax credits for children, more television V-chips and a political posture that’s more favorable to business.
Overall, the DLC – the home base of well-positioned guys like Bill Clinton, Joe Lieberman, John Breaux, and Dick Gephardt – says its mission is to “define and galvanize popular support for a new public philosophy built on progressive ideals, mainstream values, and innovative, non-bureaucratic, market-based solutions.” That means “promoting opportunity for all” while “demanding responsibility from everyone,” a philosophy where welfare isn’t seen as a never-ending entitlement, criminals aren’t portrayed as victims of society, the federal bureaucracy isn’t called out to solve every problem and the private sector isn’t painted as the enemy.
The DLC is asserting, in short, that it’s the Party that needs an overhaul, not just Al Gore. White male voters, for example – in total, all incomes, urban, rural – supported Republicans in House races last year by 59 percent to 38 percent, and voted for Republicans in Senate races by 60 percent to 38 percent.
The left, unsurprisingly, will come to blows with any attempt to move the party to the center. From super-liberal Mother Jones magazine: “The Clinton years have completed and locked in the Reagan revolution.” Completed and locked in what’s called a “Republicrat duopoly,” a coalition of politicians in both parties, bought by the rich, who wink at the morals and greed of the “overclass” while attacking of the morals of the “underclass” … a state that “ends welfare, not poverty.”
The “legacy,” continues the analysis in Mother Jones, is that “history will record with some astonishment that this remorseless progress towards a corporate state was accompanied by a chorus of support from the politically correct. African American leaders, for instance, described as ‘our first black president’ a character who as a candidate had made a point of executing the mentally-deficient Rickey Ray Rector, who ditched Lani Guinier, humiliated Betty Currie and vetoed a United Nations resolution calling for international action to forestall the genocide in Rwanda. Feminists, during the impeachment battle, rallied around a man who hit on the help and then trashed his conquests if they complained. Liberal academics and intellectuals flocked to a president who had bombed Sudan in dog-wagging style, deceived his Cabinet, taken wagonloads of off-the-record money from Indonesian and Chinese special interests and rented Mr. Lincoln’s bedroom to the fat cats.”
The result? “A price has to be paid for all this, and the immediate as well as longer lasting cost: American Democratic liberalism has lost its honor and prestige and has proved itself as adept in making excuses for power as any Babbitt in the Nixon era.”
On the Republican side, Zogby says his polling data shows that George Bush got only 8 percent of the African-American vote, and 32 percent of Hispanic votes. In a recent Washington Post interview, Bush pollster Matthew Dowd stated the goal for 2004: “We have to get somewhere between 38 to 40 percent of the Hispanic vote.” In just the past few weeks, that’s meant a steady stream of policy initiatives from the White House: a call for the opening of the United States to Mexican trucks, weekly radio addresses in English and Spanish, the promotion of Cinco de Mayo, the celebration of the Mexican victory over the French army and a White House amnesty plan that grants legal residency to three million illegal aliens from Mexico.
And with drugs and votes? Here’s how Washington Post columnist William Raspberry describes it: “Most of the experts say drug use rates are roughly equal for blacks and whites. But according to Ethan Nadelmann of the Lindesmith Center, blacks are arrested for drug offenses at six times the rate for whites.” The D.C.-based Justice Policy Institute, for instance, points to the different jumps in the number of people behind bars in New York state since 1980 for drug offenses – imprisonment increases of 1,600 percent, 1,300 percent and 100 percent, respectively, for Hispanics, blacks and whites.
Says Bush, “I think a lot of people are coming to the realization that maybe long minimum sentences for first-time users may not be the best way to occupy jail space or heal people from disease.”