Jewish World Review Feb. 24, 2000 / 18 Adar I, 5760
Being Republicans, they instinctively yearn for B. In their minds, Republicans would like to win. In their hearts, they'd rather be right. And to be right is, for a true Republican, to be a proud member of a scorned, mocked, embattled minority. This is definitional. The true Republican knows that someone who is liked by the masses (or by the media) simply cannot be one of them. And there is no question that McCain is liked by the masses (and the media, for that matter).
In Tuesday's record-turnout Michigan primary, 18 percent of the voters were Democrats and 35 percent were independents. The Democrats broke 8 to 1 for McCain over Bush, and the independents went for McCain nearly 3 to 1. Twenty-nine percent of the vote came from first-time Republican primary voters, and McCain beat Bush by at least 16 percentage points with these GOP primary virgins. A third of the voters came from union households, and here again McCain beat Bush handily. He also beat Bush among self-identified moderates and liberals. The only voters who strongly supported Bush in Michigan, as in South Carolina and New Hampshire, were the conservatives--the true, right-in-their-hearts Republicans.
Thus, as McCain and Bush enter a series of primaries where crossover voting is not allowed, Bush is nicely poised to win the Republican nomination and lose the election, while McCain is well situated to win the election with his plurality-built "McCain majority," but will not get a chance to do so--unless the Republicans fight against their natural perversity and choose to be popular.
The Bush campaign is urging Republicans to stay true to the faith of misanthropy. Bush's failed Michigan campaign chairman, Gov. John Engler, warns that these new GOP voters are mischief-making Democrats crossing over just to hurt Bush and that they will never vote for McCain or any other Republican in the general election.
Engler's view fails to understand the magnitude of what McCain has wrought. Engler should read the most original political analysis published in years, an article by Walter Russell Mead titled "The Jacksonian Tradition," which appeared in the winter issue of the National Interest.
Mead argues that America's defining mass political faith is and long has been Jacksonianism, which competes with the elite Jeffersonian, Hamiltonian and Wilsonian religions.
In modern Jacksonianism--Crabgrass Jacksonianism, Mead calls it--"the homeowner on his modest suburban lawn [is] the hero of the American story," and he or she lives by a code rooted in an "unfashionable concept: honor." The core principles of this code are self-reliance, equality, individualism and courage. A figure who can stir America's Jacksonian heart must embody these principles. And he must come along at a moment when the heart is ready to be stirred: "Jacksonians tolerate a certain amount of government perversion, but when it becomes unbearable, they look to a popular hero to restore government to its proper functions." Does any of this ring a bell?
"Jacksonian America," writes Mead, "has produced--and looks set to
continue to produce--one political leader and movement after another."
Exactly so. The McCain majority is the new Jacksonian majority, ready to
be born--if McCain's party will only allow
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