Prospects look bleak for the Republican Party in the upcoming midterm elections. The latest Washington Post poll shows registered voters heavily favoring Democrats over Republicans. This isn't because Democrats have articulated a vision that Americans find compelling -- it's because Republicans have splintered and abandoned their message. The public isn't happy with Democrats, it's angry with Republicans.
Since President Bush's re-election in 2004, the American public has been treated to a constant barrage of antiwar headlines, corruption investigations, economic naysaying, pictures of flooded cities, and massive protests by those who disdain the rule of law -- and Congress has done little or nothing. President Bush has been charged with usurpation of civil liberties, mismanagement of the war effort and corruption -- and his response has been tepid at best.
The biggest problem for Republicans is their unwillingness to go on the political offensive. The Republicans seem focused on explaining to Americans just how good they have it. And Republicans are right: The economy is up; fewer and fewer Americans are being killed in Iraq; there hasn't been a terrorist attack for almost five years. Yet Americans still have the persistent perception that something is drastically wrong. For electoral purposes, it doesn't matter why Americans are so pessimistic. The bottom line is that they are.
In a one-sided political conversation in which your opponent defines you, you will always look bad. Bringing a "new tone" to Washington wears thin when your opponent refuses to abide by the Marquis of Queensbury rules. That's why, if the Republicans want to win in 2006, they're going to have to remind Americans not only why the GOP deserves votes, but why the Democratic Party doesn't.
The Democratic Party cannot be trusted with national security. This is a party more concerned with health care than terrorism, more concerned with global warming than Al Qaeda. They complain about President Bush's use of wartime powers to order wiretapping on domestic to international phone calls between suspected terrorists, complaining that civil liberties are being violated. Democrats are more worried that the government will monitor calls between a mother and her daughter backpacking in Europe than that the government will ignore calls between deputies of Osama bin Laden and terrorists like Mohammed Atta. Sen. Russ Feingold (D-Wisconsin) attempts to have President Bush censured for protecting the American people.
Meanwhile, Democrats continue to pander to those who cross the border illegally and block any concerted action to end illegal immigration. Senator Hillary Clinton (D-New York) thanks illegal immigrants protesting in New York and hopes that their protests will bring "out of the shadows the millions and millions of people who are here who make our economy work." Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-Massachusetts) speaks similarly at a protest in Washington, D.C. It is no surprise that Democrats were recruiting voters at pro-illegal immigration rallies.
Democrats cannot be trusted to handle the war in Iraq. They are too busy claiming that the war has already been lost to notice that American casualties are declining dramatically; they are too impatient for Iraq to become Vietnam to wait for the development of democracy in a part of the world that has never seen democracy before. The Democrats are too busy gleefully pointing at body bags and Abu Ghraib to care that they are undermining the morale of our troops.
Democrats cannot be trusted to handle the economy. Unemployment is down, the stock market is up, home ownership is rising rapidly. Democrats would reverse all of these trends in order to grow entitlement programs and, by doing so, buy more votes. They would raise taxes dramatically and cut defense spending.
Democrats cannot be trusted to tolerate the viewpoints of religious people. It is Democrats across the country who seek to legitimize homosexual marriage; it is Democrats across the country who seek to keep the legal abomination of Roe v. Wade on the books so that ordinary Americans cannot vote on abortion; it is Democrats across the country who want God out of the public schools and courthouses.
If Republicans want to win in 2006, they must emphasize this simple message: Judge the Democrats by their friends. They protect terrorists for political expediency; they protect illegal immigrants for political expediency; they protect Islamofascists in Iraq for political expediency; they protect those who do not work at the expense of those who do for political expediency; they protect radical abortion and homosexuality advocates for political expediency. Americans may be unhappy with Republicans, but Republicans must make clear that the alternative is a country run by those who consistently side with enemies of the American people.