The Long View 2006-07-05: Format; The Fall of New Jersey; Anti-Southern Strategy; Democrat Immigration Liability

I've lost a few of John's blog posts from the middle of June through July 2006. It looks like he was trying a hosted blog service that he didn't like, and I can't access saved copies of the main blog URL from since someone is squatting on his old domain right now. Alas.

This was a period when John was experimenting with public comment boards of various types. I have copies of the phpBB, but at this time in 2006 he was using something on Geocities that is probably lost forever. Alack.

2008 United States Presidential Election

2008 United States Presidential Election

On another note, it looks like Thomas F. Schaller's argument in Whistling Past Dixie : How Democrats Can Win Without the South was spot on for 2008, except for the bit about Mountain State hunters. Those guys are way too red tribe for that strategy to have worked. But I can see the argument, a lot of guys on the Right who are really into guns are often pretty libertarianish, and not really social conservatives, at least in my experience. However, identity politics has very much prevented any such wedge issue from working.

Format; The Fall of New Jersey; Anti-Southern Strategy; Democrat Immigration Liability

One more time: Having lost patience with the Yahoo-Geocities-Verizon-Smersh blog software, I am returning to my old format, at least for the time being. However, there is now a Comment board to which readers can post replies and carry on discussions with each other. (Note the links on the right above). Actually, all the Reply links on my site now give readers the opportunity to post there. Unless the number of comments becomes very large, that is probably better than a php board with lots of different categories.

Yes, this is much better.

* * *

Alas for my beloved New Jersey, where the state government has closed down because of the failure of Governor Corzine and the legislature to agree on a budget. (I am not particularly fond of tax increases either, but the governor is probably right in insisting on balancing the budget with a sales-tax increase rather than IOUs and accounting gimmicks, which has been the custom in recent years.) Much sympathy has been expressed for our valiant gaming industry, whose dealers and patrons were forced from their friendly windowless gaming rooms and into the unfamiliar sunlight at 8:00 AM for lack of state inspectors to oversee the casinos. However, all areas of life have been affected. The border fortifications that defend civilization from Pennsylvania are now derelict, and the savages of Bucks County are making devastating incursions into central New Jersey, and even the north. Here is a scene from Paramus Mall this morning:


Already the spreading chaos has provoked the people to raise questions of theodicy. Is the existence of a good God, they ask, really consistent with the total collapse of the EZ-Pass system on the New Jersey Turnpike?

* * *

The Democratic Party has two options for 2008 and beyond. One is to relax its position on culture wars questions, the better to attract cultural conservatives, particularly from the South. As I have elsewhere noted, this was essentially the New Deal formula: culturally Right, economically Left, and it was very successful for a very long time. Plan B, however, would make the bet that secularization and bohemianization are irreversible historical trends. That is essentially what Thomas F. Schaller does in his forthcoming book, Whistling Past Dixie : How Democrats Can Win Without the South.

I just submitted a review for that book to Kirkus (publication is in October), so of course I cannot post the review here. However, I can do another summary. Essentially, the author attempts to make an argument converse to the one that Kevin Phillips made in The Emerging Republican Majority (1969). That groundbreaking study proposed, correctly as it turned out, that the Republicans would become the dominant party of they could get and keep control of the South. Rather than try to retake the South, Schaller says that region is too eccentric to try to placate (which is also the import of Phillips' latest, American Theocracy). Instead, Schaller lays out a quite detailed plan to retake the presidency and Congress by cultivating the Midwest, and to a lesser extent the mountain states. He uses lots of tasty state and local statistics and profiles of local politicians. If the publisher has the wit to give the book a thorough index, this book could become a handbook for both sides in 2008.

As Schaller points out, his proposal would mirror, geographically, the electoral configuration that prevailed from the Civil War until the Great Depression. In those days, it was the Democrats who controlled the South and the Republicans who controlled the Midwest, and the Republicans usually won the presidency and Congress. He does recognize that there are differences, however. In the intervening decades, the Midwest has either stagnated or even declined demographically. He hopes to make up the deficit with, in effect, a coalition of childless professionals, replacement immigrant population, and a scattering of Western hunters to whom the canny Democrats should offer secure Second Amendment rights. The enemy demographic is native-born two-parent heterosexual Christian families with kids.

I can see how Plan B might work for an election or two, especially if the Republicans continue to run inarticulate candidates, but isn't it a bit morbid?

* * *

The president got the memo about immigration, if we believe this report from The New York Times:

Republicans both inside and outside the White House say Mr. Bush, who has long insisted on comprehensive reform, is now open to a so-called enforcement-first approach that would put new border security programs in place before creating a guest worker program or path to citizenship for people living in the United States illegally.

Congress is holding summer hearings too, contrary to its custom:

The meetings will undoubtedly expose the deep Republican rift just as the elections draw near, and some say they are simply a way to stave off legislation until after November. Democrats, eager to pick up Congressional seats, intend to use the hearings to drive home the idea that Republicans have failed to address illegal immigration, a tactic that could further complicate prospects for a bill before Election Day.

One thing the meetings will undoubtedly not expose is the Times's misapprehension that Democrats have a comparative advantage on this issue. The Republican Party contains nativists and open-borders types, though the latter increasingly dare not draw attention to their real beliefs. The Democrats, in contrast, are pretty much riding down a fixed track defined by amnesty and continued heavy immigration. They have no room for maneuver, and they are headed for a cliff.

Copyright © 2006 by John J. Reilly

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