There is an American tradition of voting not for the party, but “for the man.” Unlike Europeans, who are more ideologically driven, Americans have prided themselves in assessing individuals of both parties, and then voting for the more personally impressive candidate. The European parliamentary system of government fosters ideological voting; the American political system does so to a much lesser degree. With only two parties competing in American elections, each party has had to encompass a much wider spectrum of ideologies.
This is no longer the case. For better or for worse, the notion of voting for the candidate rather than the party is now mostly naïve idealism. The Democratic party is now fully left-wing, and is simply the American version of a European social-democratic party. It is the party of ever-expanding government. (The Republican party, in contrast, is — at long last — the party of small government.) There are two reasons for one to vote Democratic: either one is a leftist, or one has come to believe the Left’s demonization of its opponents as SIXHIRB (Sexist, Intolerant, Xenophobic, Homophobic, Islamophobic, Racist, Bigoted).
#ad#Oh, yes, there is third reason that Americans vote Democratic: More and more Americans are employed by the government, and more and more Americans receive significant material benefits from it. So one does not have to have left-wing values or believe in the demonization of conservatives to vote Democratic. All one has to do is vote according to where one’s livelihood comes from.
The Democratic party has also effectively convinced some minority groups that it alone protects them. The party has, therefore, created a built-in voting bloc that is formidable.
Why, then, will Republicans do well this year? Because the Democrats went too far left, and the country has serious economic problems.
Of course, Republicans cannot and should not depend on recessions to win elections. They have to make the case as clearly as possible that America’s success is the result of its most distinguishing trait: limited government. They have to show that the Democratic party undermines the primary reason for America’s success: limited government. And Republicans need to make clear the connection between Democratic policies and America’s economic problems.
It is probably accurate to say that no country in the world has less government intervention in the lives of its citizens than America does. But Democrats do not like such American distinctiveness. They want America to be like other countries. The president, recall, does not believe in American exceptionalism.
For all these reasons, I admit that I am prepared to vote for a less personally impressive Republican over a more personally impressive Democrat. The Republican will vote for America’s values (E Pluribus Unum, In God We Trust, and Liberty, which by definition means small government). The Democrat, no matter how personally charismatic, will not vote for these values.
This is my response to the liberal media, which have portrayed virtually every popular conservative in my lifetime as a mediocrity at best, a dummy at worst. In not one case — from Ronald Reagan to George W. Bush to Sarah Palin — was the media’s depiction accurate. To give but one example, George W. Bush can probably run rings around Vice President Joseph Biden in his understanding and knowledge of history and of the world.
But even if the media’s depictions were accurate, it wouldn’t matter to me. I will take common sense and values over intellect any day and in any election. Left-wing intellectuals have abysmal track records when it comes to confronting great evil in the world. Their willingness to fight tyrants and despots is one of consistent and abject moral failure.
Take the Left’s favorite Republican to depict as a dummy, former Alaska governor Sarah Palin.
#page#This country would be in considerably better shape if Sarah Palin were either vice president or president. Sarah Palin would have confronted Iran rather than placed her faith in negotiations and in the United Nations. She would not have sought to impose a peace on Israel (as if peace could ever be imposed by outsiders on any countries, let alone upon those in which one of the parties seeks to annihilate the other). She would not have bought into Keynesian economics and spent nearly a trillion dollars largely to keep overcompensated government workers voting Democratic. She would not have expanded the number of government agencies and “czars” to the point that this country may well be governed for the next two years not by congressional laws but by unelected and unaccountable federal agencies. She would not have declared a date by which America will leave Afghanistan and thereby ensured that fewer and fewer Afghans fight alongside America. She would not have signed a 2,000-page bill about anything, let alone health care. She would have expanded oil drilling in America so that we could actually begin the long journey to energy independence, not the imaginary journey to windmills and solar panels. She would never have considered taxing energy, the engine of our economy, on the increasingly absurd claims that human carbon dioxide emissions will bring the planet to ruin.
#ad#So, it is time for us Americans to realize that the old days of choosing the better candidate are gone. The Democrats have, at least in this way, achieved their goal of rendering us more European — we will have to vote by party.
That’s the bad news. The good news is that in almost no case is the choice between a more impressive Democrat and a less impressive Republican. The quality of most Republican candidates this election is the highest of any candidates in post-war American history, Republican or Democratic. But even if it weren’t, a Republican mediocrity would get my vote. My first concern is America’s greatness, not the candidate’s.
– Dennis Prager is a nationally syndicated radio talk-show host and columnist. He may be contacted through his website, dennisprager.com.