Jonah Goldberg

Meanwhile, on the Republican side, women, blacks and Hispanics vote too, but that's not how the demographics and coalitions of the right work. GOP candidates actually have to win over people who believe things. (After all, the famed, and tragically frayed, "Reagan coalition" was about different groups of principled people, not a mere hodgepodge of ethnicities and genders.) Exit pollsters ask GOP voters whether they're committed pro-lifers, whether they think the economy is the most important issue, etc. I'm sure they ask Democratic voters similar questions, but it's telling how little we hear about that. What Democratic voters actually believe doesn't seem to be that relevant, in large part because Democrats aren't voting their beliefs, they're voting affections.

Obama is "the one" - in Oprah's words - not because of his policies but because his is a transcendent, unifying, super-nifty-cool personality. Hillary, meanwhile, is staying aloft largely through her ability to guilt-trip female liberals into sticking with her. Her cultivated weepiness and dour lamentations about how she's been so picked on sometimes make it seem like she's setting up a political version of one of those "how does a Jewish mother change a lightbulb?" jokes. Answer: "It's all right; I'll just sit in the dark."

Recall how her crying jag in New Hampshire, which apparently turned things around for her, was all about how important it is to her to be president. Message: Go ahead and vote for Obama; I'll just sit here in the dark. Indeed, I've lost count of how many stories I've heard on public radio about Democratic women deciding to vote for Hillary out of guilt.

The Republican party is a mess, absolutely. Conservatives are sorting out what they believe, what heresies they can tolerate and what principles they will not bend on. At times this argument is loud, ugly and unfortunate. But you know what? At least it's an argument about something. On the Democratic side, if you strip away the crass appeals to identity politics, the emotional pandering and the helium-infused rhetoric, you're pretty much left with a campaign about nothing.


Jonah Goldberg

Jonah Goldberg is editor-at-large of National Review Online,and the author of the book The Tyranny of Clichés. You can reach him via Twitter @JonahNRO.
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