The Formula for Victory in the Fall Elections

by on September 5th, 2006

An editorial in The American Spectator suggests that the predicted surge in Democratic campaigns and their chances of a major victory in November should be recalibrated. Several key races have moved to within the statistical margin of error, lending credence to the argument that smug conclusions concerning either party’s chances are premature and therefore ill-advised.

The editorial concludes with the notion that despite the mainstream media’s attempts to undermine White House influence, President Bush and his chief advisor Karl Rove may play a vital role. Readers will recall how the president criss-crossed the nation in 2002 and provided nearly unprecedented results, upsetting the predicted mid-term elections which typically do not benefit the party in contol of the White House.

This, of course is 2006 and conventional wisdom would argue that picture, particularly on the international scene, is substantially more challenging. But for clearly different reasons many analysts made the same argument in 2002. Real leadership doesn’t become obsolete because the challenges shift or become more intense. But it is absolutely incumbent upon Mr. Bush et al to make the case in lucid and cogent terms.

They should begin with the premise that each year fewer voters identify themselves as liberal and more identify themselves as conservative. Over the past 20 years the political plates have moved and the realignment has undoubtedly benefited Republicans.

As argued in ClearCommentary’s published letter (see below), the litany of liberal positions do not enjoy strong political traction. The reasons are many, but, from their instinct to redistribute income to their diffidence on national security, the values that underwrite their policies are at least questionable and each year more Americans reach that very conclusion.

However, there is still time for the Democrats to retool their message, which would enhance their chances to convince moderates and independents that theirs is the party of the future. But they have to begin with a soul-searching internal dialogue concerning national security, one devoid of the moral equivalence arguments and their propensity to predicate their positions with an apology for American foreign policy.

On the domestic front they would do well to outline the top five issues that voters identify as their highest concerns. Those would include health care coverage and economic challenges to middle-income earners. Here they must be both bold and creative which should translate into market-based solutions, not new “investments”–which is poorly veiled code for tax increases–because the percentage of voters who recognize that taxes are an economic millstone and a cynical political card to play is always on the rise.

The brightest leaders are people with vision and unwarvering, bedrock values that resonate with a strong plurality of people. Those values must be informed by principles that are transparent and actionable because there will always be significent numbers of voters who find their recommendations less than appealing.

However, unpleasant medicine can be made palatable by appeals to the nation’s sense of a higher calling. For guidance we need only look to Jack Kennedy’s impassioned Inaugural Address, which was a call to unite behind the timeless and unassailable American values that our Founders championed without qualification or apology.

Whichever party achieves that goal will be the one that prevails in November. Each has serious challenges that it must overcome, but, at this point, each has the opportunity. As is always the case in politics, the one with the vision and determination will prevail.

Mella is Founder and Editor of

Philip Mella