There is no real question that Democrats are more skilled at politics than the Republicans are. Democrats are more articulate, not to say glib, and they know how to stick together.
You don't see individual Democrats in the Senate going off to do their own thing in concert with the opposition and against the interest of their own party, as Senator John McCain has done with so-called "campaign-finance reform" co-sponsored with ultra-liberal Senator Russ Feingold, and as he attempted to do on immigration with liberal icon Ted Kennedy.
Democrats know better than to betray their base of supporters — welfare-state beneficiaries, the teachers' unions, environmental zealots, the ACLU, and tort lawyers — the way the elder President Bush betrayed his supporters who relied on his "no new taxes" pledge and the way the current President Bush betrayed them by attempting to create amnesty for millions of illegal immigrants.
Republicans have too often forgotten the old-time admonition to the girl going to a party, to always remember to "dance with the one who brung you."
Even some Republicans have said privately that the Democrats have the edge in playing the game of politics. Given the greater political shrewdness of the Democrats and the overwhelming bias of the media in their favor, it is remarkable that Republicans have had any political success at all.
That the Republicans are still a viable party is one measure of how far the Democrats' policies and values differ from those of most Americans.
Nowhere is that difference greater than when it comes to defending the American people against crime at home and against military and terrorist threats from abroad. Liberal Democrats — which is to say, most Democratic politicians and all of their leaders — are ready to try almost any "alternatives to incarceration" of criminals and almost any alternative to maintaining military strength as a deterrent to enemy nations.
More is involved than an unwillingness to face unpleasant facts of life. There is a coherent ideology behind these positions. That ideology goes back more than two centuries — and has failed in country after country over those centuries. But it is an ideology that sounds good and flatters the vanity of those who consider themselves part of a wise and compassionate elite.
Republicans have too eclectic a collection of beliefs to beat the Democrats on a purely ideological basis. Moreover, the liberal vision is a more attractive vision because it assumes away many of the painful and even brutal aspects of human life, especially the fatal dangers of relying on words when dealing with people who only respect force that is backed up by a willingness to use it.
Facts are the only real antidote to a seductive vision. But facts do not "speak for themselves." Somebody has to articulate those facts and explain their implications. The liberal media will certainly not do it and too often the Republicans do it badly or not at all.
How many people are aware that the black-white income difference and the male-female income difference both narrowed during the 1980s — that is, during the Reagan administration? Democrats talked a better game on both fronts and to this day are widely regarded as the best hope, if not the only hope, for minorities and women.
How many people are aware that crime rates soared when liberal ideas became part of the criminal justice system in the 1960s and only began declining in the 1980s after more criminals were put behind bars and kept there a longer time?
Democrats have learned to avoid admitting to being liberals and this year are running a number of moderate candidates.
If these new moderate candidates are elected and give the Democrats control of Congress, that control will be exercised by senior Democrats who will hold leadership positions — and all of them are liberal extremists, whether people like Nancy Pelosi in the House or Ted Kennedy and John Kerry in the Senate.
Getting people to vote for moderates, in order to put extremists in power, may be the newest and biggest voter fraud.
Thomas Sowell is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University.
By Thomas Sowell
Reprinted with permission from National Review Online