The best post-mortem on the 2006 election came from that perennial politician, Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, D-Mass. He said, "People want to know who's on their side. Whether it's health care or wages or retirement issues, they want to have someone on their side."
The biggest electoral bloc of the "they" who are seeking friends is the middle class, which includes people variously labeled blue-collar workers, skilled workers or Reagan Democrats. They are the swing voters, often called the moveables.
President Ronald Reagan's victories absolutely depended on their support. But Presidents Bush I and II kicked them away from the Republican Party, particularly on the issue of jobs.
Did the 2006 election teach Republicans that it is smart to be friends of the middle class? Have Republicans realized that jobs were second only to the unpopular war as the issue of 2006, and will surely be the No. 1 issue in 2008? George W. Bush carried Ohio in 2004 because the marriage amendment brought out the values voters. But Democrats can play that game, too: In 2006, the Ohio referendum on increasing the minimum wage raised the jobs issue, passed by 57 percent, and helped to bury Republican candidates.
Ohio has lost its manufacturing base. Some of the good jobs went to plants that were outsourced overseas and some disappeared in the tsunami of cheap Chinese goods as Wal-Mart replaced small businesses and left behind towns with empty streets and boarded-up windows.
Incumbent Republican Sen. Mike DeWine was badly defeated by Rep. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, who had led the congressional fight against CAFTA and wrote a book called "The Myths of Free Trade" (New Press, $16). Brown's TV ads showing him standing in front of a "plant closed" sign were powerful.
Almost every Republican member of Congress who bit the dust in the 2006 election had been an enthusiastic booster of the globalists' agenda: North American Free Trade Agreement, Central American Free Trade Agreement, World Trade Organization, Fast Track, permanent normal trading relations and free trade agreements with countries most Americans never heard of. Republicans were badly on the defensive in the face of Democrat ads touting the issue of jobs. The United States has lost more than 3 million manufacturing jobs since George W. Bush became president in 2000. The U.S. trade deficit hit a record high of $717 billion last year, and is expected to be even higher this year.
Phyllis Schlafly is a national leader of the pro-family movement, a nationally syndicated columnist and author of Feminist Fantasies.
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