Why are we losing?
A story by Larry Carson in the Baltimore Sun today points out that since 2004, Democrats have accounted for 51% of registrations while Republicans have only managed 15% of the total. This compares to a 37-30 Democrat split in the period from 2000-2004.
Obviously that’s bad news for the Maryland GOP, which is already a severe minority party in the General Assembly. Registered Democrats get all the propaganda from the party, which in turn builds up name recognition for Democrat candidates. But seeing that the source of this information was the notoriously liberal Sun, I decided to do some checking into the numbers myself. I looked up the end-of-year voter registration numbers for 2003 and 2007.
Indeed, the GOP has lost voter share in 15 of Maryland’s 23 counties, while gaining slightly in seven (Baltimore City and St. Mary’s County were a statistical wash.) However, the Democrats lost share in 19 counties plus Baltimore City.
It’s the other four counties that are absolutely punishing the GOP though. These four counties represent 37.8% of the 2007 voter total and while each of them gained at least an 0.5% Democrat share, the GOP lost an average of 2.85% in those four counties: Charles, Howard, Montgomery, and Prince George’s. Worst among them was Charles County, which saw a 6.9% swing (Democrats up 2.5 points and GOP down 4.4 percent.) Those four all are in the top 11 counties in terms of total voter registration – in fact there’s no GOP plurality county until you get to the eighth largest county, Frederick County.
Judging solely by geography, I’d have to say that the numbers are up for Democrats in those areas because chances are these voters work in governmental jobs and thus are in public sector unions. Charles County has seen a lot of spillover as people stream southward out of Prince George’s, while Howard County is getting suburban sprawl from both ends. It’s an unfortunate by-product of federal government growth, with the state being affected as well.
But what is the Democrats’ appeal to these voters? Obviously some are in the public sector unions and vote as they’re directed to. On the other hand, many are average suburbanites who aren’t really into politics except during the week or two before the election when they start paying attention to the campaign commercials on TV. The rest of the year they get their news off the local TV station or from the dominant newspapers in that area, the Washington Post or the Sun. As an example, those voters believed in 2006 that Martin O’Malley would cut electric rates which were raised because of big, bad Governor Ehrlich and those eeeeevil Republicans. It was a direct appeal to their pocketbook and it worked. And by raising taxes early in his term, O’Malley is counting on the public to forget about their anger by the time 2010 rolls around – sadly, a good number of them will. Meanwhile, I guarantee right now that the GOP will be savaged for running a “mud-slinging” campaign if they attempt to remind voters that, hey, O’Malley raised your taxes.
But let’s look beyond that and look to the principles for which each party stands. As a proud Republican, I know what my party believes in but sometimes you have to look at the other side. So I went to find what Democratic principles were.
(I was tempted to leave a vast blank space here, but their party’s website does actually state some of what they stand for.)
Most important to me is their vision statement:
The Democratic Party is committed to keeping our nation safe and expanding opportunity for every American. That commitment is reflected in an agenda that emphasizes the security of our nation, strong economic growth, affordable health care for all Americans, retirement security, honest government, and civil rights.
That’s all well and good, sort of like motherhood, apple pie, and all that jazz. It has its appeal because it’s easy to understand. But when you think about those words, it’s more obvious where the nanny state has its root, particularly in advocating health care and retirement security. Nowhere do they mention freedom or liberty.
Compare this to the Republican principles I agree with, straight from the Maryland GOP website:
I believe the strength of our nation lies with the individual and that each person’s dignity, freedom, ability and responsibility must be honored.
I believe in equal rights, equal justice and equal opportunity for all, regardless of race, creed, sex, age or disability.
I believe free enterprise and encouraging individual initiative have brought this nation opportunity, economic growth and prosperity.
I believe government must practice fiscal responsibility and allow individuals to keep more of the money they earn.
I believe the proper role of government is to provide for the people only those critical functions that cannot be performed by individuals or private organizations and that the best government is that which governs least.
I believe the most effective, responsible and responsive government is government closest to the people.
I believe Americans must retain the principles that have made us strong while developing new and innovative ideas to meet the challenges of changing times.
I believe Americans value and should preserve our national strength and pride while working to extend peace, freedom and human rights throughout the world.
Finally, I believe the Republican Party is the best vehicle for translating these ideals into positive and successful principles of government.
The first principle directly contradicts one of the Democrats’ main bases of power, the unions. Unions believe in strength through sheer numbers, and rugged individualism is discouraged.
Principle number two offends the race and gender pimps because we still need to “make up” for three centuries of discrimination against blacks and women, with gay rights a more recent addition to the parade of bigotry victims.
The third principle offends those who push class envy because not everyone has shared in prosperity equally.
For #4, I’ll grant that the the last 2 or 3 Congresses that were under GOP control kind of dropped the ball on the “fiscal responsibility” part but certainly did their part on the individuals keeping the money that they earn. Oh wait, those were tax cuts for the rich as the Democrats continually say.
Since many government functions are unionized, they say we can’t have #5 and allow essential services to have a profit motive.
Actually, in some respects the Democrats agree with number 6 – indeed they are trying to bring government right into your home. They’ve already made it to a number of public places (like the smoking ban in February) so sooner or later it’ll be right into your door.
For number 7, the one thing that Democrats seem to come up with as new and innovative are ways to usurp the power from the people through confiscation of more tax money and restrictions on how one can live their life, like banning incandescent light bulbs as part of the energy bill.
While I consider the Long War a part of principle number 8, the Democrats see it as a war for oil. So why is gas still $3 a gallon?
Obviously, number 9 is a sum of the conflicts of opinion between the two parties.
So these are the differences between the two parties. Why are we losing?
Part of it comes from things we can’t do a whole lot about. While there is a thriving blogosphere that is at least more balanced than the mainstream media, the fact is that we’re only reaching thousands while they reach millions. And for the foreseeable future, the vast majority of our children will be indoctrinated rather than educated, at least to the extent that we can’t counter the propaganda the children are forcefed – particularly on so-called manmade global climate change.
But I think more of it is attitudinal. Many on our side are afraid to express their beliefs because they imagine they’ll be seen as racist, bigoted, sexist, homophobe, etc. Generally that’s what those on the “progressive” side fall back on when they begin to lose their arguments.
In my case I’ve had people tell me that I write too long of posts, but possibly that’s because they’re afraid I’m starting to change their mind on things. Perhaps not; but the way I build an argument is to get the facts out and then use them to my advantage. I say that I’m right and here’s why – if you care to counter that’s fine, it keeps me on my toes. As far as politics goes, I draw my inspiration from a document that’s always on my desk, my pocket-sized copy of the Constitution. And I believe it’s where the Republican Party’s principles derive from at their root.
We’re not going to change all of these suburban voters overnight; in fact I’d be pretty scared if we did because that would tell me they’ll be the type that blows with the political winds. But one thing I would strive to do in changing their minds is to generally have an upbeat, positive message. We can point out flaws in the arguments those on the left make, but also be prepared to have solutions of our own ready. One example would be creating a “shadow” budget for Maryland that retains necessary services but makes real cuts where prudent to show as a comparison to Martin O’Malley’s budget. Another would be to point out this fall that absentee voting as currently constituted is easier than early voting without as much possibility of voter fraud, so your vote is more likely to count.
51% of Maryland voters registered Democrat. The trick is not to tell them that they made the wrong choice but to convince them there’s a better one.
Crossposted on monoblogue.