Wednesday, April 06, 2005


Schiavo politics – I

Just how strong is the Christian right?

The GOP's cynical and manipulative politics in the Schiavo case raises some interesting questions about how its current strategy will play out politically.

Karl Rove's strategy for the 2004 election was apparently to mine the Christian right voters who sat out the 2000 election – some four million of them – on the theory that they would swing what would likely be a close election in 2004. He was successful, apparently, by mobilizing thee voters in key states by getting gay marriage put on numerous state ballots. Arguably, this voting bloc supplied the margin of victory to Bush.

It seems clear to me that Republicans jumped on the Schiavo case to add yet another wedge issue to energize Christian conservative voters – perhaps for the 2006 midterm elections. State legislatures are already making noises about rolling back state right-to-die laws.

The polls on this issue, showing somewhere between 75-80% of Americans opposing the Congressional and Presidential intervention in the Schiavo case, suggests that most people are pretty satisfied with current laws that allow us as individual to make these life-and-death decisions for ourselves. It also suggests that maybe the hard core of the religious right is smaller group than panicky democrats supposed when wringing their hands after the 2004 election.

Democratic strategists should take pains to figure out what exactly is going on. It may be that the current GOP strategy is to engage in Israeli-style Likud Party politics. They will make major concessions to a relatively small but focused group on the extreme right wing in order to acquire the margin of victory in an otherwise closely divided electorate.

So maybe what this means is that the Dems should not play for, or even towards, those voters – the equivalent of Israel's small religious right parties. And maybe it also means that, in the Schiavo case, the GOP has overplayed its hand and made the middle-of-the-road voters ripe, or at least riper, for the plucking.


Are the Dems reading your blog? I sure hope so.
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