With the revival of amnesty for illegal aliens and support for giving food stamps to legal ones, the Bush administration is transparently returning to its brainstorm of winning the Hispanic vote—which in the last election it conspicuously failed to do and almost lost the election by trying. But never let it be said that the grand strategists for the Bush White House are neglecting their base among mainly white religious conservatives.
Recently, Karl Rove, who planned the Bush campaign in 2000, unbosomed his thoughts about that year's election to Brian Mitchell of Investors Business Daily. [December 18, 2001] What he disclosed was not that the Republicans are ignoring white religious and social conservatives but that they hope merely to exploit them.
The big discrepancy," said Mr. Rove, speaking of the voters the Bush campaign failed to win in the last election, "is among self-identified white, evangelical Protestants, Pentecostals and fundamentalists. If you look at the electoral model, there should have been 19 million of them. Instead, there was [sic] 15 million.... We may have failed to mobilize them." [VDARE.COM NOTE: You got it, Karl! – as Peter Brimelow and Ed Rubenstein have pointed out!]
Mr. Rove's no fool. Since Mr. Bush lost the popular vote to Al Gore and won the election at all only because Green Party candidate Ralph Nader took votes from the Democrat, it follows that some voters who should have supported the Republican candidate really voted for someone else—or didn't vote at all. So why didn't they?
Mr. Rove has a ready explanation. All those white, evangelical voters are probably just too bigoted to support someone as enlightened as George W. Bush and his "compassionate conservatism."
"Rove said," the newspaper reported, "the campaign's message of inclusion might have turned off some Christian conservatives, whom he described as 'xenophobic' in the past. He said the GOP would have to work hard to keep them and otherwise 'make up the deficit some place else.'"
Mr. Rove doesn't seem to be able to make up his mind whether all the white Christian "xenophobes" deserted the GOP because they couldn't stand its efforts to rope in blacks, Hispanics, homosexuals and women, or whether this electoral bloc is simply vanishing. "I think we may be seeing to some degree ... a return to the sidelines of some of these previously politically involved religious conservatives," he said.
The latter explanation may in fact be close to the truth, though not in the way Mr. Rove meant it. Not a few religious conservatives, seeing that after decades of supporting Republican candidates, they've gained nothing in terms of changes in abortion law, prayer in school or pandering to the lavender lobby, are just packing it in. What's the point of political involvement if all you get, even when you win, is the same stale rhetoric from office holders who have no intention of keeping their commitments?
As for the "xenophobes," Mr. Rove presumably means those opposed to mass immigration and such anti-white racial policies as affirmative action, hate crimes laws and banning the Confederate flag. There's an overlap between conservatives who care about such issues and those identifying with the religious right. Given the Bush campaign's positions, or lack thereof, on these matters, and the Republicans' grotesque pandering to both blacks and Hispanics, it wouldn't be too surprising if a lot of rank-and-file conservatives just took a walk in 2000.
Of course, back during the campaign the conventional wisdom among grand strategists like Mr. Rove was that either the party no longer needed such voters or could easily fetch in new voting blocs to take their place. At least today, to judge from what he's saying now, Mr. Rove has figured out that maybe the party does need the white middle class Christian voters after all.
The party needs its old voting base for the simple reason that, despite all the pandering to blacks and Hispanics and all the avoidance of issues that might have alienated them, it still couldn't win their votes. Mr. Bush lost the black vote in 2000 by a larger margin than any other Republican since Barry Goldwater. For all the hoopla about how Mr. Bush and only Mr. Bush could win the Hispanic vote, he won a measly 31 percent.
But what Mr. Rove betrays in his interview is not so much the chastened wisdom of a strategist who knows he's blundered as the smarmy smartness of a Beltway spin wizard. "Working hard to keep" the GOP base doesn't mean the party or the candidate will change their positions and approach, but merely that they'll be a bit more cunning to try to rope conservatives into supporting them next time.
It never dawns on him, or the breed he represents, that that's exactly why the grassroots right defected from the Stupid Party in the last election—and probably has no plans to come back in the next one.
COPYRIGHT 2001 CREATORS SYNDICATE, INC.
January 21, 2002