The Moose argues that 2006 may becoming an order election.
The Moose has long maintained that the primary issue in American politics over the past several decades has been maintaining "order." The defense of order encompasses a range of issues from national security to crime to the defense of traditional values.
Tom Edsall has a similar insight in his new book which is excerpted in the New Republic,
"Unlike baby-boomers, who smoked dope, protested the war, and lived with a succession of girlfriends before becoming middle-age liberals, Rove understood the longing of many Americans for a traditional nuclear family and a sense of social order. He grasped the values crisis brought on by the sociocultural revolution of the '60s and '70s because he himself had lived its worst consequences. And--like previous Republican strategists, including Kevin Phillips, Pat Buchanan, Charlie Black, and Lee Atwater--he realized that these sentiments, however crass they sounded to the ears of liberals, held appeal to many voters and could therefore be harnessed to his party's advantage."
The central "order" issue in American politics today is our war against Jihadist terror. While Iraq seems to be in chaos, if Republicans can frame the central election issue as which party is perceived as stronger in taking the offensive against our enemies, the GOP wins. Bolstering port security is important, but it pales in terms of political punch compared to killing our enemies. And, according to at least the USA Today/Gallup poll, the Republicans are achieving some success with this approach.
The left has been the handmaiden of the Republicans' effort to portray their party as the defenders of order and the Democrats as soft on terror. Two important events occurred in August that have strengthened the Republicans position - the left-wing, anti-war candidate's victory in the Connecticut Senate Democratic primary and the foiled British bombing plot. The GOP seized upon these two events to underscore the centrality of the war on Jihadist terror in a dangerous world. President Bush has devoted the last few weeks to focus on the terrorist threat.
Meanwhile, the left can only speak about getting out of Iraq. The American people may be dissatisfied with the situation in Iraq, but if the choice is between strength and retreat - strength wins.
The Moose has long believed that 2008 will be a national security election while 2006 will focus primarily on the innumerable mishaps of the last six years. However, it appears that the "order" issue may be intervening this year to the donkey's detriment. --