Cindy's Winning--How Do We Do The Same?
by Chris Bowers, Wed Aug 17, 2005 at 08:17:34 AM EDT
The second is from Rasmussen, which conducts a daily tracking poll. Today in Rasmussen, Bush has continued his precipitous decline, coming in at only 43-55, the lowest ever recorded in Rasmussen, and down from 47-52 before the vigil began. Further, in Rasmussen "strong" disapproval for Bush is now at 41%, tantalizingly close to his overall approval.
Now, Bush has been hitting a lot of lowest ever approval ratings from different polling firms lately, and Cindy Sheehan is not the only major problem for Bush right now. Thus, with only two polls, I can't prove that she is the cause. Still, Cindy Sheehan is the biggest negative story for Bush right now and, as I already mentioned, these are the worst umbers for Bush ever. It is, at the very least, highly coincidental that Bush is dropping even further during the vigil.
But what does this all mean? How can we maintain the momentum and the voice Cindy Sheehan has helped give us? A friend of mine who was around during the Vietnam era protests once told me that when the imagine of protest becomes the same as the image for average Americana, then you can sway public opinion. Jeffery Feldman notes that Cindy Sheehan has achieved just that:The great success of Cindy Sheehan's protest, therefore, is no less than the moral authority for the Democratic Party to speak for the American family.
In other words, there are now two very clear claims on the American family at the heart of politics, and the claim by the anti-War Democrats has so much momentum that it has already forced every single Republican candidate running for office to rethink their strategies for the next few years.
At the heart of the Republican claim to speak for the family is a very narrow idea of marriage, and a reactionary nervousness about 'the culture' as a cause for social problems in America. For the Republicans, the key to translating this claim into political gains has been a broad scale effort to use state legislators to strip homosexuals of the full rights and privileges of American citizenship.
At the heart of the Democratic claim to speak for the family is a broad and powerful idea that the war in Iraq is killing America's children for no apparent reason, and a growing anger than unless American soldiers leave Iraq, America's hard-working and honest communities will be destroyed forever. For the Democrats, the track record for translating this claim into political gains has been very short--so far only one Ohio candidate has applied this claim to political gains.Cindy is helping progressives once again make a national claim to speak for the American family--you can't get more Americana than that. Importantly, this is not the first time this happened this year: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.
Mark Rozell, a professor at George Mason University in Virginia who studies religion and politics, says the case has created a "clear backlash."First, they were using the government to interfere with the private lives of families. Now, they are using the government to destroy families. Throw in Social Security, since a huge percentage of recipients are families who lost a parent, and in true Rovian fashion, we could run on the family, couldn't we? And isn't the deficit really a birth tax on our children?
I don't know what the exact message and visuals to run on the family would be, but the issues are clearly there. Shiavo, Sheehan, Social Security, deficits--it is a huge opening. Retake the family.