What is the Republican constituency? This fall's election, with control of Congress important to Bush's presidency, makes this question central.
There are different ways to answer the question. Partisan Democrats, policy wonks, and campaign advisers have different perspectives.
Democrats say the Republican constituency consists of interest groups, such as the rich and environmental polluters. Policy wonks emphasize policy goals, such as tax cuts, less government, economic growth, and national security. Campaign advisers focus on the swing vote.
But interest groups, policies, and swing votes don't define a political constituency. Neither does a war on terrorists. A lasting constituency is built on principles that offer a political vision of a good society. When these principles are sacrificed to pandering to interest groups and swing voters, constituencies are lost, not gained.
Intimidated by interest group politics, Republicans are deserting their principles.
Ever since federal bureaucrats and judges illegally and unconstitutionally created race and gender privileges in the name of civil rights, many Americans have been patiently waiting for Republicans to reaffirm equality in law.
Equality in law means that government cannot favor groups by granting status-based privileges. Its opposite is equality of result, which is achieved by treating people differently.
Policies designed to achieve quality of result, such as race and gender quotas, contravene the equal protection clause of the U.S. Constitution and are illegal under the statutory language of the 1964 Civil Rights Act.
The purpose of the 1964 Civil Rights Act was to bring an end to legal discrimination against individual black Americans. When bureaucrats made discrimination a group issue and defined discrimination as the absence of proportional representation, the judiciary winked at this creation of race-based preferences in college admissions, employment, and government contracts.
The imposition of proportional outcomes requires legal discrimination. Universities admit minorities on the basis of preferment and require whites to meet higher entrance standards. Minority preferment trumps the low bid in government contracts.
Legal preferment has been extended to women. One result is that men's participation in college sports is limited by the participation rate of women. It is discrimination and grounds for a federal lawsuit if a higher percentage of the male student body participates in sports.
This extraordinary development is the result of one ruling by one female assistant secretary of education in the Clinton Administration. Her ruling has terminated 350 men's college sport teams. Proportional representation for women is achieved by shrinking opportunities for men.
After 38 years of civil rights policy, legally imposed race and gender discrimination are far more prevalent in the U.S. today than during the 1950s. In those days discrimination was private or imposed by state or local law and customary male and female roles. Today discrimination against white males is required by federal agencies.
The Bush Justice Department has twice intervened against those seeking redress from reverse discrimination, thus sacrificing a core constituency principle to interest groups that do not vote Republican.
Citizenship is another principle that is under attack. Aliens, both legal and illegal, and their advocates have succeeded in forcing citizens to open their purses to them and to provide them with the full range of medical, educational, and income support programs. Some states now grant aliens more rights than they grant to U.S. citizens from other states. For example, some state universities supported by taxpayers grant in-state tuition to illegal ("undocumented") aliens.
Bush is doing nothing about the assault on citizenship except furthering it. He wants to amnesty illegal Mexicans. Campaign advisers tell him it will help with the Hispanic vote.
Another constituency-defining principle bites the dust.
If Republicans desert a principle-based constituency, how will the party fare in political competition?
Can Republicans outbid Democrats in promising privileges to preferred minorities and benefits to the poor?
Are Republicans acquiescing to the liberals' morality that the only just policy is to redistribute income and power to the oppressed?
Paul Craig Roberts is the author of The Tyranny of Good Intentions : How Prosecutors and Bureaucrats Are Trampling the Constitution in the Name of Justice.
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