Are we seeing the end, for a while, of the dominance of values in presidential elections? And if so, is that a bad omen for the Republicans? This is not a prediction, it is mere conjecture, but let's consider the possibility.
Since 1972's McGovern campaign, the Democratic Party has so blatantly offended the values, lifestyles, sensibilities and traditions of America that they have driven a vast number of voters into the Republican column.
This abrasive hostility to family, faith and tradition by the national Democratic Party was also conspicuously visible in the popular media, journalism and academe -- which, while not explicitly a part of the Democratic Party, still added to the sense of moral decay that most Americans were feeling and thereby benefited the GOP. This resulted in Republicans winning six of the nine presidential elections between 1972 and 2004, the GOP losing only after Watergate and to Bill Clinton (and then holding Clinton to less than 50 percent of the national vote).
Of course, conventional issues still mattered a lot. For example, in 1980, Reagan ran powerfully on strengthening America in the face of Soviet aggression and promising to cut taxes and spending. Conversely, values were always important either explicitly or as an atmospheric in national elections. For example, New York Gov. Nelson Rockefeller's divorce seriously hurt him in his 1964 bid for the Republican nomination.
So it is never a binary matter of the public caring or not caring about values. Rather, as elections are decided on the margins -- by the shift of only a few million voters in even a landslide presidential election -- the question I am considering is whether we are witnessing a shift of emphasis by a critical few million traditionally Republican voters away from values in the 2008 election.
Of course, the first piece of evidence for this theory is the surprisingly good performance, so far, of Rudy Giuliani with conservative Protestant voters. (But keep in mind, they are hardly the only values voters. You can find values voters in country clubs, boardrooms and even amongst nonbelievers who nonetheless value tradition and conscious moral standards.)
The interesting question is whether Rudy is doing well with conservative Christian voters simply because there is no viable candidate who shares their values or whether the reduced primacy of values as a motivator is causing Rudy's support amongst such traditional values voters.
Blankley, who had been suffering from stomach cancer, died Saturday night at Sibley Memorial Hospital in Washington, his wife, Lynda Davis, said Sunday.
In his long career as a political operative and pundit, his most visible role was as a spokesman for and adviser to Gingrich from 1990 to 1997. Gingrich became House Speaker when Republicans took control of the U.S. House of Representatives following the 1994 midterm elections.
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