For weeks now, even months, Democrats and the mainstream media have had their fun. They’ve gleefully predicted a Republican debacle on Election Day, savored each sordid revelation in the Mark Foley scandal, and trumpeted every poll that seems to support their own foreordained conclusions about the outcome. But no narrative has been more cherished than the supposed defection of formerly Republican voters from President Bush and their party’s nominees.
If the Democrats are counting on depressed Republican turnout for victory, they’d better reconsider. It’s far too soon for them to begin “measuring the drapes” (as President Bush put it in last week’s press conference) for their new offices – because the more the press treats a Democratic sweep as an electoral inevitability, the more that even the most disgruntled conservatives are forced to focus on what defeat would really mean.
Republicans understand that a Democratic Congress will raise Americans’ taxes – as Karl Rove pointed out, 85 percent of congressional Democrats have voted against cutting taxes on income, cutting taxes on families with children, and cutting taxes on married couples at work. They realize that a Democratic majority in the Senate will thwart President Bush’s efforts to fill the next Supreme Court vacancy with a judge in the mold of Chief Justice Roberts or Justice Alito. Fish gotta swim, birds gotta fly – and Democrats must penalize economic success and find judges who, like New Jersey’s Supreme Court, will enact by fiat the liberal social policies that voters consistently reject at the ballot box. That’s just what they do.
But even those willing to take their chances on domestic policy must balk at the notion of handing the war on terror over to a Democratic Congress – at least, if conservatives take the war on Islamofascism as seriously as they’ve claimed to. After all, does anyone in America think that a Democratic Party dominated by the likes of Nancy Pelosi, Howard Dean and John Kerry will fight it with the same vigor and determination as Republicans?
Nowhere are the differences between the parties more profound than when it comes to the war on terror. In contrast to President Bush – who does what he must to protect the country, even when it’s unpopular – the Democrats consistently allow politics to trump security. That’s why, if Democrats win the House, Speaker Nancy Pelosi may deny moderate, bipartisan Jane Harman the opportunity to chair the House Intelligence Committee, and replace her with liberal Rep. Alcee Hastings, a former federal judge who was impeached for and convicted of bribery. And that’s how Senate Democrats – who claimed that dissident Republican Senators Warner, Graham and McCain had their proxy to negotiate with The White House on procedures for interrogating and trying terrorist detainees – came to reject the compromise legislation negotiated by the trio.
What’s more, candidates like Missouri’s U.S. Senate challenger Claire McCaskill hold views which, while extreme, are representative of Democratic Party thought. She proposes fighting the war on terror through “sophisticated criminal investigations.” And though she opposes warrantless wiretapping of terrorists’ phone calls, McCaskill supports extending Geneva Convention protections to the terrorists who behead Americans without a second thought, and has expressed concern that habeas corpus rights haven’t been offered to them, as well. Even as they demonstrate an exquisite sensitivity for the wellbeing of America’s enemies, however, it’s less clear how McCaskill’s policies – and those of her fellow Democrats – will protect Americans here at home.
Nor is it any easier to trust the Democrats when it comes to North Korea. Today, Kim Jung Il – who cheated openly on the 1994 agreement negotiated by Jimmy Carter, even as he extorted tribute throughout the ‘90’s from the United States – is conducting nuclear weapons tests. Even so, as a congressman, Ohio’s Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Sherrod Brown voted a dozen times since 1993 against any kind of American missile defense system. And he’s marching in lockstep with his party – House and Senate Democrats voted five times to cut missile defense funding just during George W. Bush’s administration, even after 9/11. How would electing people like Sherrod Brown convince Kim Jung Il that America is serious about eliminating a North Korean nuclear threat?
And then, of course, there’s Iraq. Democrats have had a field day broadcasting every setback and competing with each other to excoriate the Bush Administration’s handling of the war. But it’s not clear what they themselves offer, except a policy of retreat and defeat that will embolden terrorists, transform Iraq into a terrorist safe haven and convince freedom-loving Muslims that the United States is an unreliable ally in the war against Islamofascist terror.
In fact, many Democrats’ positions have been bizarrely out of the political mainstream. Maryland’s liberal U.S. Senate candidate, Ben Cardin, told the Baltimore Sun that he’d be willing to cut off funding for the war, whether it’s ongoing or not. And Minnesota’s Democratic Senate candidate, Amy Klobuchar, has adopted the Nike “just do it” policy when it comes to pulling out of Iraq: Whether or not the military commanders agree with a withdrawal strategy, she affirmed that her position was that “they should be told to do it and just told to find the best way to do it.” With breathtaking disregard for the President’s constitutional role as commander-in-chief, she believes that if the President himself won’t provide a plan for withdrawal, Congress should simply instruct the Joint Chiefs of Staff to create one.
Given the drumbeat of negative news that flows steadily from the mainstream media, it’s hardly a surprise that many Americans – and Republicans in particular – would feel discouraged about events on the foreign policy front. But whatever their differences with the Congress just adjourning, Republicans also understand that the election isn’t a referendum on the past – it’s a choice for the future. Standing by as Republican congressmen and senators are defeated may punish those who have failed to live up to conservatism’s highest principles – but more importantly, it punishes the country.
With President Bush in the Oval Office and Republicans in charge of Congress, Americans can, at least, have confidence that Americans’ safety will trump terrorist “rights,” and that the failure of will that led to our defeat in Vietnam – emboldening our enemies and resulting in the deaths of thousands of innocents – will not be replicated by a precipitous withdrawal from Iraq. But if Democrats are given the power to weaken America’s position in the war on terror, not only will they put all of us in greater jeopardy, but – through a premature retreat from Iraq – they could also undermine the cause for which so many brave American soldiers have died. Next Tuesday, we need to vote as if our lives – and our families’– depended on it.