February 13, 2004

Commentary

An Early Warning for Bush

By Andrés Lozano

Regardless of origin, Americans respect and support the rules of the game. Of all games: sports, political matches, and business competition alike, you name them. Football, baseball and basketball are our favorite sports and national pastimes because the three have simple, easily understandable fair rules, reducing to almost nil discretionary close calls rullings from umpires. Because of a natural leaning towards unambiguous regulations, Americans abhor misbranding. We become flabbergasted when contents differ from the label’s description. We do not accept amending rules during the match; in sum, we do not change horses at midstream! These features are our American birthright; our success and prosperity intimately linked with such traits. While a handful of countries share with us these values, the majority’s policies are precisely the opposite: Referees amend rules rashly as things happen. A rule of thumb to measure immigrants’ prosperity is gauging how fast they attune themselves with the American respect for rulings.

Presently, all available data suggests, John Forbes Kerry will become the Democratic Part’ standard-bearer for the fall’s elections. JFK is the quintessential Democratic candidate: As a Liberal believes and supports wholesale government activism, favors income distribution through progressive taxation, etc. In sum, John F. Kerry is a fitting Democratic candidate. Come November, his electoral success or failure depends on how many voters share his outlook. Largely, his winning potential lies on him toeing this line. It is my belief that these traits are not enough to win an election. Republican candidates offering the alternative vision have won twenty-two out of 36 presidential elections. In the last half-century only, Republicans have won 8 out of 13 presidential elections offering an alternative. This is easy to understand, American voters are increasingly individualistic and suspicious of Uncle Sam’s recipes.

George W. Bush is an archetypal Republican in the process of change. That is, lately he is showing an inconsistent behavior like promoting big government schemes, budgetary deficits untidiness and, in essence, managing the economy like a Democrat. GWB is changing his party’s rules of the game, re-labels himself and changes horses at midstream. This behavior will not bring Democratic votes to his column, but it can very well alienate Conservative, Independent and Libertarian voters. To be certain Conservatives and Libertarians will not come out to vote for Kerry. Not at all. However, they may very well skip voting at all and, by default, make Kerry the winner. In all logic, Independents might even vote for Kerry. After all, between the original and a copy, they might choose the real thing. Thus, hardly Kerry could best Bush; yet, ironically, Bush can undo himself!

Three examples:

1. Herbert H. Hoover was a Republican president who believed tinkering with the economy was a duty of government. Franklin D. Roosevelt beat him in 1932, because he was the real thing, not the fake. As a matter of fact, FDR continued applying meddlesome Hooverian measures throughout his tenure. Fittingly, Hoover lost due to his unsteadiness, while Roosevelt won four unprecedented elections in a row thanks to his consistency.

2. Because of the Watergate scandal, Richard M. Nixon resigned in 1974. An inadequate Democratic majority could not have impeached him. Nevertheless, he quit because enough Republican congressmen added to the Democratic numbers, would have voted to impeach him. Nixon changed the rules of the political game and foes and friends alike expelled him out of the match.

3. George H. Bush lost his 1992 reelection bid vis-à-vis Bill Clinton, because his 1988 campaign pledge was: Read my lips, no new taxes! In 1991 he misrepresented himself, signed into law a tax hike and, in 1992, his constituency deserted him.

Heading towards November, GWB and other Republican hopefuls should appraise and muse over these examples, since the added strength of the real thing seekers, loyal Democrats, plus disaffected Conservatives and Libertarians skipping the elections, might very well send the former packing to Crawford TX, and the latter left in a legislative minority status. Bush and plenty Republican hopefuls are skating on thin ice when putting their chips on populist entitlement programs in order to lure Democrats and undecided voters to their side. In all consistency, Democratic candidates can up the ante, outdo populist proposals, keep a tight reign on their faithful and draw the undecided. If GWB and Republicans do not have this situation clear in their minds, they are playing the Democrats’ hand, and can snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. Both Hoover and Bush I took their constituencies for granted and ran the unnecessary risk of enticing their opponents with not good enough bait. Both failed for the same reason and Bush II is on his way to repeat the same mistake for the third time.

Andrés Lozano can be reached at alozanoh@msn.com

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