In 1980, Reagan ran against Carter's manifold failures, but he also had a full positive and credible program of tax cuts, spending cuts, getting tough with the Soviets, and returning to respect for traditional values. In 1994, Newt Gingrich's Republicans ran against Democratic corruption and policy wrongheadedness. But we also ran powerfully on the positive program of our Contract With America. This season, the Democrats' message is about 80 percent negative. Maybe that will be enough, but even this season, they are not offering the public much to vote for.
Moreover, despite their presumed standard-bearer's (Sen. Obama) admirable manner and wit and first-draw educational credentials, he is surprisingly weak when trying to discuss policy, history and current events at even a short step beyond the superficial. His recently manifested ignorance regarding the language spoken in Afghanistan was a revelation, especially as he has made Iraq and Afghanistan the centerpiece of his critique of Bush. The more the campaign forces him to speak without benefit of teleprompter the less confidence voters are likely to hold for the sureness of his knowledge and judgment.
I certainly am not predicting that Sen. McCain and the Republicans are likely to win. Obviously, the public is ready for change. But if RC candidates from president on down cheerfully and relentlessly make honest, principled arguments 12 hours a day for the next 5 1/2 months, we may well be surprised with the results. Let each candidate make his or her own argument to the local voters. If Republicans do well this season, it will be one district or state at a time. A nationalized election works against us. The local logic of each candidacy and his or her convictions is our strongest play.
Certainly, if our candidates wander around their constituencies crying into their beer while national conservative pundits inventively conjure up new modalities of public alienation from us, we can make defeat more likely.
We have one great abiding advantage: Obama, like most liberals these days (and unlike FDR and JFK), believes he sees a coming age of limitless energy, less trade, less prosperity, less rugged personal independence. Despite his high rhetoric, at its heart, his is a pessimistic message of hunkering down together to share whatever may perhaps be "sustainable" for us.
We conservatives believe in an exceptional America of ever-greater prosperity and happiness -- if we have but the spirit and courage to fight for it. For more than two centuries, the American people almost always have believed in and voted for that American dream. And for more than two centuries, they have been right.
Sour peddlers of some over-intellectualized American nightmare usually lose. No reason they shouldn't lose again this November.
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.