Americans are not an extreme lot. When it comes to elections, we never follow the Ralph Naders or George McGoverns or Pat Buchanans. The country never swings too far in one direction without a subsequent swing in the opposite direction. Republicans Teddy Roosevelt and William Howard Taft were followed by Democrat Woodrow Wilson. Democrat Woodrow Wilson was followed by Harding, Coolidge and Hoover. Those three Republicans were followed by Democrats FDR and Truman, who in turn were followed by Republican Eisenhower.
With our tendency toward moderation, it is no wonder that after six years of absolute Republican domination many Americans are thinking of pulling the Democratic lever. Democrats recognize that the natural swing of the political pendulum tends toward the party not in power. Their campaign has relied heavily on that pendulum swing, and they have campaigned on the basis of their opposition to Republicans, labeling Republicans extremists, “out of the mainstream.”
There is only one problem: The political pendulum only operates if the center between the two parties is truly at the center of the political spectrum. If both political parties have shifted to the left, the Republican Party now occupies the political center. There is nowhere for the pendulum to swing.
For the political pendulum to work, there must be some common ground at the center. Wilson and Harding both believed in the essential morality of America, and both believed in the traditional morality of marriage, family and religion. So did Hoover and FDR. Arguments about the size of government were arguments about how best to bolster that traditional morality within the framework of a growing America.
The period of liberalism ushered in by LBJ, Nixon and Carter, however, pushed all of American politics to the left. The common ground was no longer between the parties; it resided within the Republican Party. The election of Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush was not so much a swing of the pendulum as a national realization of that fact. That is why the fluke election of Bill Clinton (who has Ross Perot to thank for his presidency) prompted the Republican Revolution of 1994. The political center was not Bill Clinton, but the much-maligned Newt Gingrich.
Americans recognize that the playing field has shifted. The Republican Party of today is closer to the Democratic Party of 1960 than the Democratic Party of today is. Meanwhile, the Democratic Party has become pacifist on foreign policy, a vocal advocate of gay marriage and abortion on demand, an anti-religious haven, a consistent champion of higher taxes. It allies with blame-America-first radicals like Michael Moore. It worries more about terrorists’ rights to unmonitored phone calls than Americans’ rights not to be murdered. It talks about our soldiers in terms that would make John F. Kennedy cringe – just this week, 2004 Democratic presidential nominee John Kerry implied that our soldiers in Iraq were a bunch of mindless morons and college dropouts. It expels Democrats like Joe Lieberman, who supported the deposing of mass murderer and terrorist supporter Saddam Hussein.
The political center is now the Republican Party. The Republican Party under George W. Bush has lowered taxes and brought the war to our enemies. It has sought to enshrine marriage between a man and a woman as the basis for our morality. It has banned the horrific partial-birth abortion procedure.
If anything, the Republican Party is often left of the political center – but the Democratic Party is far to the left of even that. The Republicans have spent like a drunken sailor on shore leave – but the Democrats would spend more. The Republicans have treated terrorists with more respect than they deserve under morality and law – but the Democrats would treat terrorists like American citizens. The Republicans have debated the immigration issue and the morality of stem cell research – but the Democrats refuse to take any stance whatsoever on immigration and are gung ho in favor of snuffing out human life in the speculatively wild hopes of developing miracle cures.
Americans are not extremists. The Democratic Party, however, is extreme. Americans must realize once again that the political center is not between the two parties – it is within the Republican Party. If the Democrats win the House or Senate, Americans will be reminded once again why they favor moderation over radicalism.
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