Now that the off-season is in full swing, NFL general managers have had plenty of time to take a critical look at their rosters and prepare for the coming season. Many times, they cut veteran players that either have outlived their usefulness or who never really fit into the team.
Similarly, the Republican National Committee and the Democratic National Committee should take a look at the coalitions from which they draw support. The Republicans would do well to review the contract they have with the religious right, while the Democrats should do the same with liberal bloggers.
In recent years, Republicans took advantage of evangelical church communities’ ability to assemble voters en masse. As a result, they took back the House of Representatives, the White House and Senate within a decade’s time. However, 2006 saw the Democrats regain control of Congress with victories in Virginia and Missouri. While these states are not especially Republican, they do have a sizable contingent of Christian conservatives that, if duly mobilized, could easily produce a Republican victory. Nonetheless, whatever the reason – there was not enough of them, they failed to go to the polls or they voted for Democrats – members of the religious right simply did not get the job done in 2006 for the Republican party.
That being said, Election Day wasn’t totally a bust for religious conservatives – they were able to get laws passed against gay marriage in quite a few states, continuing a trend that began in previous election cycles. Evangelicals are increasingly turning to statewide referenda to get their agendas passed, and to great success. However, if these puritanical peons feel that their goals can be achieved at the state level, there is no reason for the Republican National Committee to pave its road to the White House through Liberty University and the megachurches that dot the American landscape.
The Democrats have a similar problem to contend with. They can’t afford to have their 2008 primary play out like the 2006 Senate race in Connecticut. There, Ned Lamont won a primary over Joe Lieberman, due in part to the efforts of many liberal bloggers who took pleasure in inflating Lieberman’s Iraq stance (ignoring the rest of his decidedly left-leaning record). However, Lieberman tallied a considerable victory in the general election. His win in Connecticut demonstrates that a gaggle of college-aged prima donnas, emboldened by the twin traps of newfound enlightenment and a free account on www.blogger.com, can’t win elections. Even though there might be a set of shared policy positions (especially in the case of Connecticut voters), this situation shows that bloggers can’t go clear across the country, traveling from their college campuses to political hotspots, and tell people what’s good for them.
The intangible values of community between voters and elected officials, as well as the importance of constituent services, will always reign supreme in American politics – most bloggers are powerless to effectively weigh in on these values.
While presidential primaries tend to focus more on establishing policy positions for the party as a whole rather than on state or local matters, there is still a folksy dimension to it – politicians must frequent union get-togethers in Iowa and the town hall meetings of New Hampshire. Instead of MoveOn.org contributors, the voters at these local events will pick a candidate that will do considerably better during the general election.
Politicians traditionally pander to the more immoderate sections of their base during the primary season. While the religious right and liberal bloggers don’t necessarily have to be cut from their proverbial teams, the Republicans and Democrats should knock them down a few pegs on the depth chart after their abysmal performance in the 2006 (electoral) season.
Scott is a member of the class of 2008.