Friday, January 16, 2004

What a Mess: I heard something that disturbed me on NPR this morning. Pardon me for being half-asleep during the broadcast, so some of the details still seem hazy. But a reporter was commenting that the divisiveness that George W. Bush generates will mean that there will be very few swing voters this presidential election.

Normally each party can count on its base for support of the nominee, letting both candidates pitch to the middle ground. The moderates get different labels year after year (soccer moms, etc.), but it's basically the same group of people.

But most people in this country either love Bush or hate him. There's very little middle ground.

So instead of appealing to moderates, the candidates are now left to "mobilize their base" to get more folks from their side to the voting booths. If all this is true, then unfortunately that means we will have a very nasty political campaign ahead of us leading to another closely divided election.

And I suppose my political views lend credence to this theory. You see, I have never voted for a Republican or Democrat in a presidential election before in my life. I would always choose a third-party candidate as sort of a protest vote.

But this year, as you may have already guessed, I plan to vote for Bush. So it looks like the sitting president has attracted some of the staunch moderates already, and I've seen that other moderates plan to vote for anybody but Bush.

This is all tempered, however, by Bush's political posturing lately as he attempts to attract more middle-roaders. His Medicare bill and support of campaign finance reform has angered conservatives. They obviously won't vote for a Democrat instead, but it's hardly a way to mobilize his base. However, many analysts predict that conservatives are so infatuated with Bush that he can afford to support some liberal programs without turning off conservatives.

And I still expect the Democratic nominee to move more toward the middle for the general campaign, even if that nominee is Howard Dean (who seems to be losing ground in Iowa). While opposition to the Iraq war will be central, expect the Democratic nominee to start talking tough about fighting terrorists and about fiscal responsibility.

But if the Nazi comparisons and the calls for patriotism are hinting at anything, we're going to witness one very messy campaign fight.


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