The Heartland Campaign

by Michael Walsh

My New York Post column today takes a look at Team Romney’s military-like strategy to split the Democrats into two coastal wings and reclaim the heartland:

For decades, the Democrats could count on reliably liberal states like Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan (a total of 36 electoral votes) to anchor the middle of the nation, and then aim to flip normally Republican states such as Indiana and Ohio. It worked perfectly in 2008.

This year, Indiana (11 votes) will return to the Republican fold; Illinois will stay Democratic and most likely Minnesota, too — but Ohio and the rest of the nation’s industrial midsection are now in play.

This is not good news for Team Obama.

. . . as a look at the electoral map will show. The Upper Midwest shifted sharply rightward in the 2010 elections, and the foolish spectacle the Democrats made of themselves in Wisconsin continues to reverberate across the region. The spectacle of the “fleebaggers” and the Occupy rabble that trashed Madison — for what? — will not soon be forgotten.

In the larger strategic sense, Romney’s in the position Grant was at Vicksburg: To strike a crushing blow against the opposition, halt and reverse the spread of “progressivism” in the heartland and split their forces. By taking control of the Mississippi, Grant choked off the Confederate interior and doomed the rebel cause; by a curious coincidence, Vicksburg fell on July 4, 1863 — the same day that another famous battle was winding up in Pennsylvania.

A rout of the Democrats along the Great Lakes would be huge not only electorally, but also culturally.

It would marginalize the party as a group of arugula-munching, latte-sipping elites who enjoy their ocean views and heedlessly live off the fat of the land (many on the taxpayers’ dime) as lawyers, journalists, college professors, government employees and entitlement recipients — while the rest of the interior labors to pay the bill and suffers the “regulation” of distant, unaccountable bureaucrats.

In other words, the Heartland Campaign is not simply about Electoral College votes. It’s also a way to frame the Democrats as the out-of-touch party of the status quo — i.e., Big Government — at a time when Big Government has so signally failed the average American.

If it works — and if a Romney administration can successfully grapple with the debt bomb, the entitlement crisis and growing government dependency — it could set back the Democrats’ prospects for years to come.

No wonder Al Gore wants to abolish the Electoral College. With the Democrats pushed out of the Midwest, except for the cemeteries of Cook County, the decisive battle — the Gettysburg of this cold civil war — can come where it must come: in California

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