Tuesday, January 22, 2008

The Coming Divide

This piece by NRO's Rich Lowry ("Revenge of the Lunch Buckets") shows that maybe John "Silky Pony" Edwards was onto something, at least around the edges. The emerging, defining divide politically looks to be economic, not between rich and poor, qua Mr Edwards, but between the working class and educated professionals, whose stakes in two of the modes of globalization are quite different: illegal immigration is much more an issue for the working class people whose jobs and incomes are being squeezed, and global trade, which doesn't effect working class incomes as positively or as directly as for the professional and business classes. Populism and its discontents are once again coming to the fore, as we see already with the buttons Huckabee keeps pushing, and as Lowry points out, the Clinton machine has always known how to manipulate.

With the economy finally heading into a recession--its been almost ten years since the last one, a minor one, and even longer since a serious downturn--Republicans will have the uphill argument to make for free trade, lower taxes, and less government. Democrats of all stripes will be pushing the opposite policies as the only way up and out of the coming "disaster." Reagan's simple and devastating question, "Are you better off now than you were four years ago? will be harder for Republicans to use this time in their favor. Most people are nervous about the national prospect, even if their own situation is good. If we don't get a Republican grown-up to effectively articulate the vacuity of the Democratic view of life as it ought to be, we are going to be forced to live in their world for a while.

One important thing we have been taught by the last seven years, made noticeable by its absence, is the improtance of a president's ability to articulate the party's positions and relate them to the general weal. Call it the Rhetorical Presidency, a scholarly idea, but still of enormous import. Whoever we nominate is going to have to explain things in whole sentences to people inclined to believe that corporate execs are more evil than government bureaucrats, that government promises are more reliable than free markets, and that unelected judges are better placed to decide social and political questions than elected legislatures.

Which candidate will be best able to articulate conservatism, while staying alive against the tag team of the democrat machine and the main steam media?

-- Harold Kildow

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