Campaign strategies and mixed messages

Tuesday, November 8, 2005

Editor's note: Tara Raddle is a student at the Cape Girardeau Alternative Education Center. This essay, which has been adapted for use in the Southeast Missourian, was written for Raddle's contemporary issues class.

Military strategy throughout much of history has stated that it is always advantageous to claim the highest land in times of battle.

In 2004, the Republican Party seemed to be residing somewhere around the bottom of the Grand Canyon, giving the Democrats an easy opportunity to seize high land before the November battle.

During 2004, President Bush's approval ratings varied from 43 to 49 percent.

The majority of Americans were not approving of Bush's presidential policies. He had taken one of the largest budget surpluses in U.S. history and turned it into one of the largest national debts, so it would be ridiculous to say that the economy was in the incumbent's favor.

The war in Iraq hardly seemed to be in Bush's favor either. In a poll taken by ABC News in June of 2004, 48 percent of the American public believed that John Kerry would best manage issues of national security.

Such figures only reaffirm that coming into the presidential race, the GOP had wound up on the bottom of the Grand Canyon. For the Democrats to still end up on the lower ground took quite a bit of doing, yet their campaign managed to do just that.

Generally, the Democratic Party is associated with policies oriented toward civil liberties, crime prevention, equality and social programs. On the surface, this would seem an advantageous ideology. After all, America is built on ideas of equality and civil rights.

The problems for the Democrats begin when one thinks about what these political platforms translate to. The first part is civil liberties -- those are good, right? The problem is that nowadays, the first thing that comes to mind when civil liberties are mentioned is the Patriot Act, and it creates unfair racial profiling of the Muslim and Middle Eastern populations.

Since Sept. 11, 2001, this hasn't been a group that Christian America is that eager to protect. Closely tied into civil liberties is equality and rights of all people. Policies the Democrats support in conjunction with this concept include affirmative action, abortion rights and gay marriage.

Affirmative action can disadvantage Caucasians and males. As a result, it is hardly a topic that's widely agreed upon. Equally debated is a woman's right to choose (abortion). Its moral implications often go against the religious fervor that pervades the nation.

Gay marriage is another civil right that religious groups are typically against.

Crime prevention is yet another agenda that sounds wonderful on the surface, yet hurts the Democrats more than it helps. It essentially comes down to two things: cracking down on drugs and gun control.

While lobbying for gun control may please a commune in San Francisco, it is not the best way to infiltrate the Republican stronghold of the South and Midwest.

The last major aspect of the Democratic agenda is social programs. Nowadays, many associate welfare recipients with a crack mother whose nine children all have different fathers.

It's no longer seen so much as a helping hand for those hitting hard times, but rather a lifestyle of chronic laziness and dependency.

Equal rights, crime prevention, civil liberties and a desire to help underdogs all sounded so much better in concept. In reality, these are not bad issues at all. But they make campaigning more difficult.

The real key to winning the next presidential election is not to sell out to right wing groups, but rather to find a way to appeal to them.

If Republicans could get blue collar to turn red, there is certainly just as much hope that the Democrats can turn the tide back in their favor and part the red sea.

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