There is a noble-sounding attitude that many Americans hold regarding whom they vote for. “I vote for the candidate,” they say.
It sure sounds good. Voting for the best candidate, rather than the party, sounds as American as apple pie. But as the Democratic Party has become a doctrinaire left-wing party, this sentiment is no longer noble. It is actually foolish and dangerous.
There was a time when there were terrific Democrats whom an independent and even a Republican could vote for. Connecticut Senator Joe Lieberman was such an example. He was a liberal — he believed in the good that he thought an expanding government could provide — but he was a hawk on foreign policy.
What did “hawk” mean? Hawks were politicians such as Lieberman who believed that both for America’s sake and in order to reduce cruelty on earth, America must be the world’s most militarily powerful country, and that it must be prepared to use this power, when feasible, against the world’s worst cruelest tyrannies.
Lieberman wasn’t the only such Democrat.
Another was the great U.S. senator from New York (served: 1977-2001), Daniel Patrick Moynihan, who coined the phrase that summarized the post-1960s steep decline in America’s values: “Defining Deviancy Down,” the title of an article he wrote in 1993 for the American Scholar (a conservative journal).
Another such Democrat was Henry “Scoop” Jackson who served as U.S. Senator from Washington state from 1953 to 1983. Jackson was one of the leading anti-Communist “hawks” in American politics.
But such Democratic politicians no longer exist. The left chased Lieberman and others out of the party.
Therefore, voting for just about any Democrat for the House or the Senate, and almost as consistently for governor, is a vote for leftism. It is a vote for clones of President Barack Obama, Senator Harry Reid, and Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi, to mention just the leaders of the Democratic Party.
Obamacare provides an excellent example of why “voting for the candidate” is an act of self-delusion. Every vote for this medical and economic transformation of America came from Democrats in the House and Senate; and every Republican, even the most “moderate,” voted against it. Regarding the most destructive legislation in modern American history, “the candidate” didn’t mean a thing. Party meant everything.
This may be the primary reason Republicans do not do better in a country in which few of its citizens identify themselves as “left:” Republicans run against their opponents, rather than against the left and the Democratic Party. That’s what Mitt Romney did. And that’s why he lost an election he should have won. Romney never defined his presidential campaign as being opposed to the left or to the Democratic Party. It was solely against Barack Obama, a popular president at the time and the first black ever to serve as president, something that continued to mean a lot to many Americans who hoped that this fact would reduce black animosity toward white America.
Had Mitt Romney constantly repeated that he was not merely running against Barack Obama, the man, but against Barack Obama, the most left-wing president in American history, and continually explained what that meant, he might well have won. But he never made the election about ideology or party. Instead it was about individuals. He, Romney, was the best candidate because he could fix things — as he did in his business career and with the Salt Lake Winter Olympics. So the election was not about how big government undermines the whole American experiment; how big government makes citizens small people; how the left sees America as just another country; how the teachers unions have helped ruin public education; how the left changed our universities from places of education to places of indoctrination; or how cruelty — mass murder, torture, slavery, and totalitarianism — would inevitably take over as America retreated from more and more places.
Which brings us to the present elections. The most horrific movement since Nazism and communism, violent Islamism, has taken over much of Iraq solely because America retreated from that country. Millions of Americans understood, and many of us wrote and broadcast, that if America leaves Iraq, a country that was becoming increasingly stable and peaceful, it would be transformed into a bloodbath — which is exactly what has happened.
Why doesn’t every Republican candidate remind voters that the Democratic Party supported the complete withdrawal of American troops from Iraq — and that this made the Islamic State possible?
Either the left succeeds, or America succeeds. Tell that to your constituents, Republican candidates. And then tell them that the left’s political party is the one your opponent is proud to represent.
Dennis Prager’s latest book, “Still the Best Hope: Why the World Needs American Values to Triumph,” was published April 24, 2013 by HarperCollins. He is a nationally syndicated radio show host and creator of PragerUniversity.com.
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