McLean column: Republicans win by being in touch with the rule of law
What makes people vote Republican? Why, in particular, do working-class and rural Americans usually vote for pro-business Republicans when their economic interests would seem better served by Democratic policies?” — Jonathan Haidt on Edge.org.
In the follow-up to the question above, Professor Haidt tried to explain why liberals don’t get “it.” His psychological gymnastics start on an erroneous premise. Democratic policies do not seem to better serve the economic interests of rural and working-class Americans.
Working-class and rural Americans want good jobs, a reasonable health care program, security and a growing economy. Democrats have provided anemic growth, a failed health-care plan, low-paying jobs, crime running rampant in major cities and broken promises.
The question of “Why Republican” is different than “Why Trump.” A vast majority of governorships, state legislatures and local governments are in the hands of the Republicans. Republicans are now in control of a record 67 (68 percent) of the 98 partisan state legislative chambers in the nation, more than twice the number (31) in which Democrats have a majority, according to the bipartisan National Conference of State Legislatures.
“That’s more than at any other time in the history of the Republican Party,” according to NCSL. “They also hold more total seats, well over 4,100 of the 7,383, than they have since 1920.”
Recently a conservative Republican friend of mine told me that a liberal couple from the Northeast had asked him why Republican, after President Trump’s election. He responded by asking them how many generations of their family had served in the military. When the answer was none, he told them that he could not help them.
During the Vietnam War, in 1967, slightly more Democratic congressmen had served in the military than Republicans. Vietnam changed that. War protesters were mainly liberal Democrats. As a result, most veterans and active-duty military became Republicans or conservative independents.
When I studied the statistics of deaths in Afghanistan and Iraq, the vast majority of servicemen and women came from the Midwest, South and West. The area that is disdainfully referred to as “fly-over country” by the liberals, but an area that is mostly Republican.
In Middle America, service to country is important. Thus, support for the military is important. In that same vein, the enforcement of immigration laws, support for police officers, and basic adherence to the rule of law are fundamental principles.
CNN reported on its exit poll that 66 percent of veterans voted for Trump. Since those exit polls grossly underestimated the Trump vote, I imagine the veteran vote could have been as high as 80 percent.
While intuitively it seems that a correlation exists between military service and voting Republican, there are many more cultural reasons for the dominance of Republicans in Middle America. Our recent local election between former DA Sherry Caloia and Jeff Cheney illustrates a major reason for Democratic losses.
DA Cheney is not a politician. He won because he was committed to enforcing the law. His promise to victims of crimes and their families that he would bring the full force of the law to bear on criminals was believable. He had a record as a prosecutor for bringing criminals to justice. He understands that the DA is in law enforcement. While all rights must be protected, he represents the community, not the perpetrator.
In contrast, DA Caloia gave the impression that the DA’s office was operating at best as a neutral entity and at worst, as public defenders. While the impression might not be true, it highlights the difference between liberals and Middle America.
Liberals seem to believe that some laws should not be enforced. That is particularly true of drug laws, immigration laws, the Second Amendment and the 10th Amendment to the Constitution. They also do not believe in the First Amendment for anyone who disagrees with their liberal positions. The radical left routinely shuts down speech by conservatives on college campuses.
Middle America has a fundamental belief that society must adhere to the rule of law. The government must protect citizens from criminals, including criminal aliens. Liberals seem to believe that criminals are basically misguided and a result of a flawed society. Sanctuary cities are set up to protect not only undocumented workers, but also criminal aliens such as the murderer who shot Kate Steinle.
The Middle American voter also could not understand why the government would allow largely unvetted asylum seekers from Syria and other parts of the Muslim world to enter this country. Liberals would seemingly support bringing the migrants in on humanitarian grounds. To them the potential for terrorist activity that would leave Americans dead was seemingly an acceptable risk in a trade-off for more Democratic voters.
Probably most important, voters in Middle America were tired of being looked down on by liberals. For many years an unwarranted air of superiority has permeated liberal views of those of us in the West, South or Midwest. Kerry’s disparaging comment on the military, ”get an education or get stuck in Iraq,” the “cling to guns or religion” quote from Obama, and finally Hillary calling us deplorable and racist. I must admit that we don’t care for Northeastern liberals very much. As much as anything, that is why Republican.
Roland McLean, an Aspen Glen resident, is a University of Colorado graduate, Navy veteran and retiree after more than 30 years in international construction. His column appears on the fourth Thursday of each month. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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