The Base

Well, it’s happening again. The haters are out in full force, doing everything they can to accomplish their goals by screaming at everyone else and pretending that they alone know the truth. The odd thing these days, is that these irrational malcontents also like to claim that they represent the majority. We see this in groups like the “Truthers”, who made up a bunch of conspiracy theories about 9/11 in order to feel important, but they simultaneously claim an exclusive knowledge of “the truth”, yet at the same time claim that they represent most of the nation in spirit. We see this, among Conservatives, in those spittle-flecked individuals who cannot stand the President the nation twice elected, or their party members in Congress, to such a degree that many among them openly suggest that abandoning the party and leaving the fate of the nation in the hands of the likes of Pelosi and Reid, of Murtha and Byrd, somehow is desirable. It’s the political version of the insane man who kills his wife to prove he loves her. And yet, these guys not only believe that doing everything they can to spite their own party is somehow noble, they also claim to represent the nation as a whole. They claim that they are “the base”, and routinely assure us that no candidate can win without their support. Utter dreck, but it’s a common meme.

To show how false this premise is, I first refer the reader to President Bush’s Job Approval numbers. Yes, the same numbers the screaming meanies point to in their claim that Bush is failing. President Bush is sitting at 32% Approval, according to a composite of the major opinion polls. He’s been there for several months now. Granted, in terms of effective support this is not promising, as it means that whether or not he is actually doing a good job, the overall impression in the media and in the public is that he is ineffective. Yet, it must be observed that for all the noise made about Bush’s numbers, he has – consistently – scored higher than the public’s opinion of Congress. No matter whether we are talking about the Republican-led Congress or the Democrat-led Congress, President Bush is more respected than Congress in terms of his job performance. That context is very important. But it also needs to be noted, that Bush’s 32% is a hard number. Except for those polls which heavily over-sample Democrats and Bookend states like Nyawk and Calforn, Bush never goes below that 32% level; it’s a floor, the foundation number. In practical terms, yes, it means that Bush has no standing with Democrats or Independents, and it means that his political capital is poor. Given that he is in the last two years of his Administration, that he was deserted by his party on most major issues during 2005 and 2006, and that the extremists in the GOP gave away the keys to Congress in 2006, that is hardly surprising. But it also means that there is a core level of support for President Bush, a foundation of voters who like how he has done his job and will not look kindly on those who think they can get ahead by trashing the President or his work. It doesn’t mean they agree with Dubya on every issue, but rather that they support him and what he stands for. In 2004, with a 50% Approval Rating, President Bush won re-election with 62 million votes, and that was 51% of the Popular Vote. Using simple math, Bush’s 32% Approval Rating now translates to 39.7 million voters who would still support him, and represents 32.6 percent of the Popular Vote. Anyone who chooses to attack President Bush as part of an election campaign therefore, gives away 32.6 percent of the Popular Vote, or just about three-fifths of the Republican vote.

Let me be clear that I am not saying we need a Bush clone in 2008. Even I found Alberto Gonzalez a disappointment as AG, and I think the present Immigration Reform bill is a poor piece of work, though those people who insist on calling it things like “amnesty” only show they are not willing to seriously discuss the issue as adults. In any case, it is quite reasonable for someone to disagree with the President on certain issues, yet keep his overall work in mind and to use a mature perspective in weighing the matter. Also, each election calls for a candidate whose abilities and character suit the moment. And many voters who voted for Bush in 2004 will support the GOP candidate, no matter who it is, since the Democrats’ choice will doubtless be execrable. But I will say plainly, that because they have chosen to personally savage the President, to abandon the GOP when their support would have made a difference, and to put their egos and image ahead of the nation’s welfare, such candidates as John McCain, Tom Tancredo, and Sam Brownback will never gain the GOP nomination, and thank God for that. Those candidates who wish to claim the GOP nod, must understand that the base of the party will never be defined by extremists, by those uncivil boors who misrepresent honest efforts to resolve issues and find solutions, or who think that angry demands and screaming rhetoric can effectively replace leadership and comprehension of the key issues. No one candidate will ever be perfect, so we always have to weigh the individuals on their overall ability. The base of the Republican Party, in my mind, is an evolving demographic of people concerned with the security of the nation, the direction of our courts, the cost of our government, and the responsiveness of our leaders. The base is generally reasonable and open-minded, and is growing due to the simple facts that

A – far more people are conservative than liberal, and far more people under 50 are optimistic about America’s future than pessimistic, and

B – the Democrats, for all their noise, have no effective alternatives on any major issue.

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