Schiavo Backlash Has Realignment Potential

Oh baby. This is just so great I have a difficult time being more articulate. The latest Gallup poll, which actually has more Republicans in it than Democrats, shows clear realignment potential:Some old stereotypes about the two parties have been reversed:

  • By 55%-40%, respondents say Republicans, traditionally the party of limited government, are "trying to use the federal government to interfere with the private lives of most Americans" on moral values.

  • By 53%-40%, they say Democrats, who sharply expanded government since the Depression, aren't trying to interfere on moral issues.
The debate over Schiavo has spotlighted the central role "values" issues -- abortion, stem-cell research, same-sex marriage and the right to live or die -- now play in politics.

Mark Rozell, a professor at George Mason University in Virginia who studies religion and politics, says the case has created a "clear backlash."

If this persists, it will serve as a wedge driving directly into the Republican coalition. There is simply no way that Republicans can keep close to parity among moderates, or maintain their current two-thirds majority among reformers, if they are viewed as the party of abusive, intrusive government, and Democrats are not. It also will not help Republicans that their leader is now viewed as misleading by a majority of the country:On Iraq, Americans by 50%-48% say the Bush administration deliberately misled the American public about whether Iraq had weapons of mass destruction, the reason Bush emphasized in making the case for war. It is the first time more people than not see an attempt to mislead. If we are viewed as the party of good government, we will win.

Tags: Ideology (all tags)

Comments

33 Comments

Stephen Friend moment
Chris,

You may be too young to remember, but a PA state rep named Stephen Friend, ran against Arlen Specter once in the GOP primary. Friend was an anti-abortion, cult of life religious conservative before it was fashionable for Republicans. During the primary, he drove around the state in a van while blaring the ND Fight Song over the loudspeaker to prove how "catholic" he was. During the last debate, iirc, between he and Specter, at the very end, Friend freaked out and spouted some really crazy religious rhetoric while the debate was still on the air. All these years later, I still remember thinking that Friend was as loony as could be. I wasn't alone in my opinion. After that debate, whatever support Friend had evaporated and his political career was over. His son later ran for the state legislature and was handily beaten mostly because voters remembered his dad's debate with Specter.

IMHO, that's what we have here. People got to see who's calling the shots in the GOP these days and, unsurprisingly, they don't like it. Americans have a strong libertarian streak and woe to those who don't understand that. The Dems were smart, smart, smart to just keep quiet and stand aside while the
Republicans exposed their true selves.

by phillydem 2005-04-06 01:35PM | 0 recs
I hope you're right.
And you might be.

But the worst thing we can do is to count on this sort of dynamic, sit back, and let Rove get the initiative again.

The moment is here.

We must rise to it.

by Thresholder 2005-04-06 07:35PM | 0 recs
This reminds me of
the primary season, when "an unnamed Dem" was out-polling all the candidates for the Dem nomination.

It's the nature of the beast that many people will choose anyone over the Reeps, until anyone becomes someone and that someone becomes the focus of the Reep slime machine.

Of course, eventually we'll have to reach the point where even a real live Dem is as attractive as a hypothetical one when compared to what the Reeps are offering. I'm just hoping the Dems will be willing to push that process along, preferably by growing a collective spine.

by catastrophile 2005-04-06 01:38PM | 0 recs
Re: This reminds me of
The "unnamed Democrat" was doing quite well. I believe he (or she) would have won in a landslide.

Unfortunately, all of the named ones had dangerous flaws.

by wayward 2005-04-06 04:53PM | 0 recs
Dude!
Can we just put a slate of "Electors sworn to vote for an unnamed Democrat" on the ballot?
by catastrophile 2005-04-06 05:16PM | 0 recs
Re: This reminds me of
Yes, this is precisely the problem.

I'm sorry, but I don't believe that this event is realigning. The same selfish people who vote Republican because they want lower taxes will keep doing so, even if they disagree with the whole social agenda of the party.

They will have a good excuse for continuing to vote Republican: the Democratic nominee will be "unacceptable" after being slandered repeatedly by the right-wing hate machine. "Gee, I would consider voting Democrat if they would ever nominate anyone decent, but I guess I have no choice but to keep voting Republican."

by desmoinesdem 2005-04-06 09:16PM | 0 recs
Yep
Time for someone to give Harkin (who is one of my favorite populists) a sit-down in the Senate.
by Jerome Armstrong 2005-04-06 01:44PM | 0 recs
Re: Yep
Is Harkin still riding his disability rights hobby horse on the back of the Schiavo issue? Hooking those two issues up is a huge loser. I was appalled while it was happening and I'm appalled now.
by Gary Boatwright 2005-04-06 02:33PM | 0 recs
Re: Yep
YEa, he was talking of introducing a bill.
by Jerome Armstrong 2005-04-06 07:06PM | 0 recs
Re: Yep
My Republican father and I didn't often agree on politics, but one thing he said that was undeniably true is that Harkin (whom I have voted for ever since I was old enough to vote) is a grandstander. I like the way he votes, I like that he pushed through the ADA, but I just don't like his tendency to be a grandstander.
by desmoinesdem 2005-04-06 09:18PM | 0 recs
Absolutely.
This poll only confirms my intial gut reaction that the Schiavo overreach was gonna be a little too close to home for a lot of folks.

Dems have made the "Republicans want government interfering in your lives" argument before in connection with abortion, etc. I may just be blowing smoke out my ... but it seems that there might be a natural tendency to try and disassociate yourself from the abortion context and, hence, the inability to make this argument stick to the republicans.

That kind of dismissal to government action that intervenes into an end of life event is a lot more difficult. I heard somewhere recently that there are 35,000 people in America in a persistive vegetative state. There are a lot more who are in end-of-life circumstances and require medical decisions be made by spouses or family memebers. So, it is a whole lot tougher for the average Joe/Jane to convince themselves that they don't have to worry or be concerned about the Delay's and Frist's who want to reach into their personal lives and start making life and death decisions for them based on their "culture of life" morality.

Now, everybody grab a hammer and keep whacking this wedge day after day, after day, after ....

by dicta 2005-04-06 01:49PM | 0 recs
Re: Absolutely.
35,000 in a persistent vegetative state and another 10,000 in comas. Advances in medical science are just going to push those numbers far higher if DeLay gets his way.
by Gary Boatwright 2005-04-06 02:38PM | 0 recs
Grab a hammer
I'd like to see the Democrats use this issue like Republicans used the same-sex marriage issue: pass laws, amendments, run initiatives, oust candidates, etc., on the basis of their support or opposition to the right to choose in this context.

As yet, I don't see any evidence that they're willing to go as far as the Republicans were, and that's disappointing.  But perhaps they're just getting started.

by Drew 2005-04-06 10:26PM | 0 recs
Re: Absolutely.
I think there were a lot of people out there who, on a gut level, understand the way this issue would play out. So, the question begs, how did the GOP miss it? So badly in fact that THEY, that's right, the GOP (uh huh, yea,in your face) put out that talking points memo.

The answer, I think at least is the convergence of a GOP that believes its own hype (invincible) and a lunatic fringe that believes those exit poll numbers( decisive to the election). Whether the Dems can play this right or not is no longer the issue. It is going to be up to the GOP to convince itself and America that it hasn't gone over the cliff. All we have to do is ask the right questions. We need to find the most wacko assertions that the Randall Terry crowd has ever made and ask the GOP if they agree. Kill Judges. Kill doctors. This from the culture of life crowd. We have finally hit an area. Take a page from the Con-media playbook and highlight the absurd, over and over and over and over.    

by Welsh 2005-04-07 09:52AM | 0 recs
Does it matter?
Does the public's opinion matter?  Does the public's vote matter?  As long as the bad guys count the vote/own the voting machines, they'll keep on winning no matter what.

I've become completely pessimistic about all of this lately.

by DavidD 2005-04-06 02:40PM | 0 recs
Here's my take on this
We must assume that the voting machines aren't rigged.  If they are in fact rigged, then we are concentrating on the wrong thing here.  If the other side is, in fact, rigging the elections, then we should stop wasting our time on campaigning, having debates, raising money for canidates, etc., because they are guaranteed to lose.

If democracy really is dead in the United States, and they really stole the election, and will do so from now on, then we must take Jefferson's advice, "A little rebellion now and then is a good thing", and start a full-fledged civil war to remove the unelected government.  It is our patriotic duty to do so-if such a thing is proven-which it most certainly is not.

I, personally, am not ready to take up arms against the government.  The proof of widespread voter fraud is severely lacking.  Oliver Stone would have a hard time coming up with a believable movie with the current batch of bullshit that passes as proof of this.

So, we should investigate such claims.  But until proof (not speculation, not wishful thinking) is found, we must completely ignore such feelings and plow ahead as if there was no doubt to the intergety of our system, as these feelings are extremely distracting and unhelpful if false.

I should also note that not only have I not seen such proof, I don't believe it to be true.  The last election was stupidly close.  All the polling until election day showed it could have gone either way, and Bush pulled it off in a squeaker.  As for the exit polls, I have not seen a clear list of the final results anywhere.  I believe, for a variety of logical reasons, that Republicans were more likely to vote in the evening/at night than Democrats, therefore any partial results (IE 5 PM numbers) don't sway me at all.  Plus, they are still polls, subject to standard polling error and possible bias.  To believe this, I would need something like a combination of credible whistle blowers and documentation to back them up.

by Geotpf 2005-04-06 03:09PM | 0 recs
Not if people stand up
"If democracy really is dead in the United States, and they really stole the election, and will do so from now on"

America has the single most undefended capital in the world.  If a million people marched on the city, what are the police going to do?

At some point, when it becomes really obvious what the GOP is doing -- when they run the next Bob Dole and he wins -- then folks MUST call them out for it.

by jcjcjc 2005-04-06 06:29PM | 0 recs
Gotta do something about it
I have said it many times that we gotta fix the voting machine problem before anything else.

Like you said, nothing else really matters.

So up in my neck of the woods, citizens got together and have been fighting the fight against touchscreens, with bills in the legislature, and in the courts, to either get rid of them, or produce a voter verified paper ballot.

I think the Velvet Revolution group is the umbrella under which a bunch of people are involved in Ohio and other things, but I really dont know alot about them.

by westsyde 2005-04-06 07:46PM | 0 recs
The Schiavo issue has deep cultural roots
Tom DeLay can't even run his own life, why would anyone want him to run theirs.

Mind your own business. Butt out. Get outta my face. Back off. Don't step on my blue suede shoes. Nobody knows what goes on behind closed doors. Private property, keep out.

It goes on and on and on. Americans cherish their privacy and their independence. This thing is a big hanging curve ball sitting up like a melon to get smashed out of the ballpark.

Will the Dems show up? Do they have the killer instinct? Will Reid let the attack dogs out?

It's dog pile time baby! Dog pile on the bug man!

by Gary Boatwright 2005-04-06 02:49PM | 0 recs
Yes, But Can Dems Capitalize???
Not to be all terribly obvious, but...

This is always the big question--do we have a political leadership capable of doing right by its base?  The potential is clearly there. But it was there in the 2004 election, too. Even when Kerry was the candidate. He was not doomed to lose. He was significant ahead in July, and had the tools at hand to keep growing that lead, but did not use them.

My feeling now is that the GOP has really hust themselves. The easy part is over now. The part where the Dems just had to keep out of the way while the GOPers self-destructed.  Now they've got to do something.  

I don't mean that in a stupid "the Dems have to have a Social Security plan"-sort of way. I mean it in a "don't let them get back on their feet"-sort of way.  

This was Kerry's big mistake last July.  He had Bush on the ropes. He never had a huge lead in the polls, he just had a solid one, poll after poll. It was there, it palpable, it was ready to be built upon. Then he went into the convention and told everyone to play nice, just when he should have been crippling Bush, backing him into a corner he could never get out of.  

Well, it's about as deju vu as it can possibly get, given that it's not an election year. But we've got a real chance to pound these chumps into the ground.  And we're going to have to do that hard, because they've got all the institutional power on their side. We've got to make them afraid to use it. That's a mighty tall order. Much taller than Kerry faced last year. Our one big advantage: no organized Kerry campaign telling us not to disturb things.  

So the big question is, what do we want to see the Dem's leadership do? And what do we do on our own, both to pressure them to do that, and to put pressure on the GOP, regardless of what the Dem's leadership does.

by Paul Rosenberg 2005-04-06 02:51PM | 0 recs
Re: Yes, But Can Dems Capitalize???
It's all in the timing.

I believed it was wise of the Democrats to lay low during the Schiavo controversy and I still do. The party was not united enough to make a good stand (you don't want to see Jesse Jackson on the same side as the Republicans) Nor is cheering on the starvation of a woman, albeit a woman in a persistant vegitative state, something you want to be known for. The Republicans had all the rope they needed to hang themselves.

There are plenty of opportunities for a counterstrike. Judgeships are a great opportunity. The Democrats, especially Dick Durbin should do all they can to point out the Bush appointees that are the most extremely hard right or the biggest corporate tools.

Most importantly, the Republican assault on civil liberties is much broader than abortion and should be shown as such. Besides, it was five Republican appointees who decided Roe and five who voted to uphold Roe in 1992, anyway.

Other opportunities are the expiration of the PATRIOT Act. I'm sure the religious right will provide far more. It is time to expose the Republican party as the party of people who will take your money and run your life.

by wayward 2005-04-06 05:07PM | 0 recs
All This Is True, But...
It's not oriented to now, to next week, and the week after that. That's what I'm talking about. Not letting them get up off the floor.
by Paul Rosenberg 2005-04-06 05:35PM | 0 recs
Religious right makes far left look tame
The most rabid PETA wannabes look like nothing next to this bunch.

Americans are getting heaping doses of how a GOP Nation works.  

You tap a few moral issues and go batshit, and then you make sure everything else goes to the highest bidder.

And who will the blame now?

Obstructionist Democrats?  Hardly.  Harry Reid is Lucy with the football.  The DeLayniacs are Charlie Brown.

Unlike Daschle, Reid has a perfect sense of just when to pull the ball away.

by jcjcjc 2005-04-06 06:24PM | 0 recs
Re: Yes, But Can Dems Capitalize???
I haven't been over to dkos all day. I'm almost afraid to go over there to find DLC pleas to be reasonable.
by Gary Boatwright 2005-04-06 10:36PM | 0 recs
Re: Yes, But Can Dems Capitalize???
Well, I'm not sure what to make of it. They're fired up about the issues, but not about attacking DeLay. Maybe I didn't look close enough. Oh well.
by Gary Boatwright 2005-04-06 10:49PM | 0 recs
Whoa, Nellie!!
Encouraging signs, stirrings, that perhaps the Republic, watching the Schiavo debacle, is not completely brain dead.  But realignment?  No way.  Realignment, IF it ever comes, will arrive only upon the appearance of the economic catastrophe which the Bush-Republicans have sown for us.  If erroneously (at best) starting a unilateral war of aggression, after willfully destroying the fiscal solvency of the federal government did not generate a Congressional realignment, let alone a presidential defeat, for God's sake, then Terri's Law sure as hell isn't going to bring one about!  But I don't begrudge you your optimism, certainly.  
by euzoius 2005-04-06 05:18PM | 0 recs
Reform, Responsiblity, Ethics, & Trust
The Republicans have gone so far out there that the Democrats can claim this ground... as long as they/we keep our own side of the street clean.

Start with Eliot Spitzer in New York. Continue with 5 State Senators to turn the state government over to the Democrats. Reform the "most dysfunctional legislature in the nation" into a functioning Democratic one that gets The People's Work done.

At the same time we elect Reform & Responsibility Democrats to the House and Senate across the nation.

As long as we keep our house clean it becomes a steamroller.

by Andrew C White 2005-04-06 05:30PM | 0 recs
Oh yeah
You just gotta fuckin' love Chris Bowers. Need I say more? Maybe later. Great post.
by LooterScibby 2005-04-06 06:04PM | 0 recs
There are two things missing from the Gallup Pole
What I did not see in Chris's post or anywhere else on the 'net is: (1) whether or not people think it is a bad thing for a party to use governmental power to effect the moral choices people make and (2)assuming the first is true, whether they care so much, it will change their vote.  

In regard to the first point-all I have seen is the poll that Chris has posted, which only says Republicans are more likely to interfere.  I havent seen anything directly in this poll which says whether or not people approve or oppose this.  I guess because the polling question used the term "interfere," which has a negative connotation, it is probable that people dont like what the theocons are doing, but I wish that question was asked in the poll.  In regard to the second point, this is a matter of how important this issue is to those who disapprove of the theocons' actions.  Again, I wish that Gallup asked the question "is this more or less likely for you to vote for the Republicans" or even better, or even better, "much more likely to vote Republican, a little more likely . . . " etc.

Personally, I think it is only going to have a minor impact, if any.  Then again, every little bit helps.

by Andy Katz 2005-04-06 06:17PM | 0 recs
Re: There are two things missing
Enought with the damn analysis paralysis. Carpe diem! Fish or cut bait! Dog pile on the bug man! Attack! Attack! Attack! Tora, tora, tora!
by Gary Boatwright 2005-04-06 10:31PM | 0 recs
The rise of the religious left
Is the revival that you're seeing around you
right now.

Never ever try to pin down the holy father,
or any good thing that our race has done -
to the personification of one man.

Who says santorum is a christian? Satan.
Who says Delay is godly? Lucifer.

Bush, on the other hand, is a good son.
And if you can meet him where he lives,
he plays 18 holes in 2 hours 45 minutes
and never once takes a mulligan.

I swear it.

Matthew 25:40,
lets rolll!!!

by turnerbroadcasting 2005-04-06 07:31PM | 0 recs
by hpvv 2005-12-19 10:16PM | 0 recs
Re: Schiavo Backlash Has Realignment Potential

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by jonnylee 2006-09-09 03:00PM | 0 recs

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