Bruce Bartlett

These and other big money people are just the leading edge of what I believe will be a steady move into the Democratic sphere in order to have some influence on the next president. This helps explain why, collectively, the Democratic candidates are raising much more money than the Republicans.

It is too easy to write off such people as opportunists who just want to be on the winning side. There is a deep undercurrent of hostility to the Republican Party among many who formerly supported its candidates. They are simply disgusted with the incompetence with which the Iraq war has been waged, the total disappearance of fiscal discipline, and what they view as the party’s incessant pandering to ignorant and intolerant yahoos on issues such as immigration, gays, global warming, abortion, and stem cell research, among others.

No doubt, a great many conservatives will say good riddance to such people. However, if the Republican Party loses everyone except religious zealots, gun nuts, anti-tax extremists and pro-life absolutists, then it is not going to win any national elections. That’s not a comment on the rightness or wrongness of the views of those I just listed; it’s simple math. There just aren’t enough of such people to put together a winning coalition. The price of purity is political powerlessness.

Consequently, I anticipate that more and more Republicans and even a few conservatives are going to start looking at supporting one of the Democratic candidates. I suggested that Sen. Clinton may be the most conservative Democrat now running. But others believe that Sen. Obama may be acceptable because of his deeply conservative temperament, and some point to New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson’s excellent record of tax-cutting.

The point is that there are better and worse Democrats from a conservative point of view. Those who prefer to go down with the sinking Republican ship may come to regret that they didn’t try to exercise influence on the Democratic nomination before the nomination was sewn up.

Bruce Bartlett

Bruce Bartlett is a former senior fellow with the National Center for Policy Analysis of Dallas, Texas. Bartlett is a prolific author, having published over 900 articles in national publications, and prominent magazines and published four books, including Reaganomics: Supply-Side Economics in Action.

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