Just my periodic reminder that the only possible way mystery meat presidential candidate Rand Paul could get the Democratic votes he would require to win a presidential election, assuming he somehow survived the GOP primaries, is for Democrats to cede in his favor multiple issues that would be attractive to the Democratic constituencies.
I used to think this was impossible, but so many Democrats seem to be scared of him that I begin to think it isn’t. Just this morning, a prominent Democratic polemicist called Paul’s foreign policy positions “incoherent,” and said that “incoherent foreign policy is frightening.” I suppose this is true, but is it any more frightening than some of our recent, allegedly coherent and undeniably violent, foreign policies? And will Democratic voters perceive it to be?
This begins to remind me of the Democratic reaction to Nader in 2000. Just a week or two ago I fell into an imbroglio with Democrats who insist, 14 years on, that Gore lost because Ralph Nader stole Democratic votes (the people who actually stole votes from Gore have been airbrushed out of the storyboard). The conceit there is that the Democratic party owns votes, or in any event are owed them. But that’s not true: the Democratic party owns no votes, and nobody owes them a vote. Votes are to be won or lost. Gore and his handlers lost them — to Bush, to Nader and to every other minor party on the ballot in Florida. They can lose them again, even to somebody like Rand Paul, but only if they make it possible.
The same is true of the mid-term elections. Reflexive Democrats are nauseatingly fond of blaming the Democratic base for not voting in mid-terms. They’re still shocked by what happened to Democratic turnout in 2010; how could 2008’s ecstatic legions help but rally to the 2010 banners of the bank bailouts, Recovery Summer, the Afghanistan surge (coherent!) and Simpson-Bowles?
This year, the President goes to union-busting, employee-cheating welfare queen Walmart, one of the country’s least energy-efficient giant corporations, to announce energy efficiency policies: damn near as inspiring as Nixon to China. That’ll have union members and low-income retail workers charging to the polls. Democrats have Obamacare to campaign on, but many Democratic politicians are plainly scared to do so and anyway, the people who benefit most from it are people who remain beaten down by the economy. “I got Medicaid — because I’m too damn broke to get anything else.” Is that a winning sentiment?
I will guarantee that if Democrats get their clocks cleaned in November, the usual suspects will be out in force blaming their lessers for failing to understand the fierce urgency of now no matter what the actual factors combining to depress the turnout. One of the best lines that Stephen Colbert delivered during his savaging of George W. Bush and the press corpse at the 2006 White House Correspondents Dinner was this: “He [Bush] believes the same thing Wednesday that he believed on Monday, no matter what happened Tuesday. Events can change; this man’s beliefs never will.”
Well, he ain’t the only one.