Sunday, July 29, 2007

Conservatives in Denial About Women, "Amnesty," and Hillary Clinton

Coming Attractions: I'd like to write this week -- perhaps on Monday -- about what politics can accomplish and what it can't. We Republicans have a problem getting votes from many large groups, including: Blacks (40 million in the U.S.), Hispanics (45 million legal ones in the U.S.), women professionals (teachers, journalists, doctors, lawyers, businesswomen), and young people 18-30 (who voted Democratic in 2006 by 61% to 39%). Gee, why did we lose the 2006 election so badly? In the 2008 election, it looks as if we'll get less of the important Hispanic vote -- perhaps a lot less -- than we did in 2004 and 2006, and that's downright ominous.

Any Republican candidate for President who isn't talking regularly about what he'll do to turn this situation around is just blowing smoke. Giuliani is talking about it some and so is McCain, and more power to them. But where are the others? I frankly don't care for any candidate -- no matter how much he wants to preserve life or secure our borders -- IF he looks like a sure loser. The winner gets to appoint the Supreme Court justices. The loser gets to complain.

One reason I support Sarah Palin so strongly is that she's a candidate who can gain approval from people who disagree with her on one or more significant issues. A person like that is known as a leader. The most recent poll from Alaska shows that only 5% of the residents of that state disapprove of Sarah's leadership. She is a healer, not a divider or polarizer, and this is a country desperately in need of healing.

Note: Anyone interested in a vigorous discussion of Sarah Palin, pro (mostly) and con (some) for vice-president can find it at: is a good site for political junkies (like me). The linked section describes how rare it is to defeat an incumbent governor in a primary -- something Sarah did. It also points out that only 5% of Alaskans, an amazingly small number, disapprove of the job she's doing as governor.

I've been a conservative writer and activist for approximately 40 years, and I've never been more exasperated by SOME of my fellow conservatives. Frankly, there are too many people on the Right who in full-scale denial about three issues: (1) the viability of female candidates seeking federal offices, including the presidency; (2) the importance of the "amnesty" issue to voters; and (3) the electability of Hillary Clinton.

Some conservatives -- especially women with evangelical Christian backgrounds -- are very uncomfortable with the idea of a woman running for President or Vice-President. They ask if she shouldn't be home taking care of her husband and children. Shouldn't men, they speculate, who serve as the spiritual heads of households also serve as heads of the nation?

The American people generally have an answer to those questions, and it's a resounding NO! The Gallup Poll indicates that 92% of adult citizens say they could vote for a female for President. (In addition, 86% say they could vote for a Black running for the nation's highest office.)

Thus, if Republican conservatives have a problem with females running for President, then they must get over it. Right now, their views work only against Republicans -- people like Sarah Palin -- and not Democrats like Hillary Clinton.

As a Scots writer (Ian Jack) puts it, "Things are as they are." In other words, nostalgia for past realities doesn't modify one bit the current situation.

Today, American women run for high offices, and with increasing frequency, they win. If you personally don't like this fact, you're living in either the wrong century or country.

Conservatives also have illusions about immigration -- and about the role of Hispanics in American society. Partly as a result of the defeat of GWB's immigration proposals, conservatives believe in "the myth of the conservative base."

In fact, that base is a relatively small part of the electorate -- something we learned rather clearly in the last election, when Republican conservatives got skunked. In my own state of Pennsylvania, conservative Republican Rick Santorum emphasized the need for border security and the avoidance of "amnesty." His opponent, liberal Bob Casey was largely silent on the subject -- and ended up voting for the immigration legislation.

How did the election go? Casey got 59% and Santorum, the two-term incumbent, got 41%. Rick's "solid" position on immigration basically got him nothing. The public ignored the issue of "amnesty."

How does the public -- as opposed to the conservative "base" -- feel about immigration? The Opinion Research Council, a first-class polling outfit, did a survey on the subject just prior to the Senate vote. It found out that 30% of the people favored the Bush proposal. On the other hand, 47% of the people opposed the bill, while the rest admitted they didn't know enough to have a position.

The 47% that disliked the legislation consisted of two segments -- approximately two-thirds thought the legislation was not tough on "illegals," while one-third believed it was too tough!

In other word, most of the people who had opinions on the subject favored immigration reform. About one-in-six Americans backed legislation that would be kinder and gentler than Bush's approach to immigrants. A good chunk of them may have been among the nation's 45 million LEGAL Hispanics.

Where was the Republican "base" in all this? They consisted of 31% (two-thirds of the 47% that disliked the Bush proposal) that wanted more border security and stronger enforcement of immigration laws. The people -- 20%-plus -- who hadn't formed an opinion on the proposed legislation essentially don't count.

So, why isn't President Bush vigorously enforcing border security? The short answer is that President Bush can count. He knows something many conservatives don't: that 31% of Americans doesn't add up to a mandate.

A fired up 31% -- Karl Rove's beloved base -- can derail proposed legislation. However, 31% is not anywhere near the 50%-plus it takes to win elections.

A third area in which conservatives are in denial deals with their belief that Hillary Clinton is unelectable. In fact, most pundits believe that Mrs. Clinton will be the next President of the United States. They may well be right, as Salena Zito implies in her fine article today (Sunday) that appears both in the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review and in Townhall.

To find the Zito article go to:

She calls the piece "Hillary, Unpreconceived." When you hit on the link above, you'll also notice a companion piece called "Something About Hillary."

Salena notes that some observers say Hillary has a problem with two groups: (1) women, and (2) progressive bloggers, the so-called "netroots." Both those supposed problems are imaginary.

"'. . . You can get all kinds of juicy quotes from the Hillary haters,' said Susan Hansen, a professor of political science and women's studies at the University of Pittsburgh. 'But if you look at the raw data of how people voted in 2000 and 2006 in the New York (U.S.) Senate elections, you will see that she did not have a woman-problem. Quite the opposite.'"

Salena adds, "The importance of progressive bloggers has increased geometrically. And despite the preconception that they will not support her [Hillary], it turns out they are." She cites the left-wing "Daily Kos" as an example.

Conservative denial of the obvious -- on female candidates, on immigration, and on Hillary -- seems to be spelling an electoral defeat in 2008. Politics is not about the purity of one's ideology. Rather, it's about winning and losing.

Those who in denial about reality set themselves up to learn the true meaning of "the agony of defeat."

Stephen R. Maloney
Ambridge, PA


Sanity102 said...

Great post! My point(s) exactly!

Stephen R. Maloney said...

Thanks Sanity. If the world were as wise as us, we could just sit home and rest on our laurels. It isn't, so we can't.