Republicans Who Understand Democrats
By Bruce Walker
August 27, 2012
Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan have an advantage in campaigning which Barack Obama and Joe Biden do not: Romney and Ryan have won elections in strongly Democrat areas and have learned how to make their case to voters who are not naturally inclined to vote Republican. Romney won election as governor of the only state that McGovern carried in 1972, a state which routinely shows near the top on the list of the most leftist and the most liberal in the union. Ryan won election from perhaps the most Democrat congressional district in Wisconsin.
Look a bit more closely in the families of these two candidates, and the inculcation of appealing to Democrat voters is even more profound. George Romney ousted popular Democratic Governor John Swainson of Michigan in 1962, gathering 51% of the vote. During the 1964 Johnson Landslide, Romney managed to win re-election with 55% of the vote, and in Romney's last election two years later, he collected 60%. This was in a state which was overwhelmingly Democrat and which had powerful labor unions which battled Romney again and again...and lost.
Paul Ryan's wife, Janna Ryan, has a long history of working in Democratic politics. She is the niece of David Boren, the popular Oklahoma governor who was elected to the Senate and then left the Senate as the third-most powerful member of the Democrat caucus. She also worked for Congressman Bill Brewster, whose Third Congressional District was nicknamed "Little Dixie" and which never voted Republican, even in presidential elections, until Reagan in 1980. This was also the district of House Speaker Carl Albert, the last moderate leader of House Democrats.
Janna has not only experienced politics, but she has been immersed in Democrat politics.
These are strengths, not weaknesses, in the Republican ticket. Those conservatives who pine for the next Reagan forget that Ronald Reagan was a Democrat most of his life. Unlike much less successful Republican nominees -- Bush 41, Bush 43, McCain, Dole, and Ford -- Reagan had not been a lifelong Republican. He knew how ordinary Democrats thought, and he was able to win huge numbers of them -- first to his election, and then to his party.
The difference between the Republican ticket and the Democrat ticket is stark. If there is one salient fact about Barack Obama, it is that he has grown up in a plastic bubble of Democrat leftism. Hawaii, Ivy League schools, Chicago machine politics in a strongly Democrat Illinois...except for his election in 2008, Obama has never even had to try to win Republican voters.
His wife has also grown up in an alternative universe of angry black Marxism, leftist law schools, and a church in which the parishioners sit quietly in their pews while a hate-mongering pastor spews out contempt for his chosen homeland. Wright's quotes about America are bad, but over and over he has said things which are simply nuts.
Both Barry and Michelle hung out with the most militant 1960s radicals, but more to the point, they never associated with ordinary Republicans. Indeed, to the Obama couple, simply being a Republican is akin to being a hopeless racist. They have no clue what actually moves Republican voters, and indeed, they often show utter ignorance of what ordinary Democrats -- the sort which once made Democrats the majority party -- feel and think.
The same is true of Biden. He comes from a state with two Democrat senators, a Democrat governor, and a Democrat congressman. Both houses of the state legislature are controlled by Democrats. It is the sixth-most Democrat state in the nation, according to Gallup (Illinois is the tenth-most Democrat state.)
Small wonder, then, when Biden spoke of Republicans wanting to "put you all back in chains," that did not seem like over-the-top rhetoric to him. Like Obama, he has competed for Republican voters in an environment where Democrats are not the overwhelming majority in precisely one election: the 2008 presidential election.
Barry, Michelle, and Joe simply do not understand Republican voters at all. Mitt, Paul, and Janna, in sharp contrast, have persuaded successfully Democrats to vote for them, or, in the case of Mrs. Ryan, she has grown up in a political family which was Democrat and worked for a Democrat congressman.
At some point in the next ten weeks, that difference in the understanding which the Republican ticket has of ordinary Americans of both parties and the utter myopia which the Democrat ticket has about the largest political party in the nation will become brilliantly clear to millions of Americans. When that happens, the election is over.
Bruce Walker is a long-time conservative writer whose work is published regularly at popular conservative sites such as American Thinker.