Since this is the Republican National Convention week, I've been thinking about the traditional role of conventions - rallying the base. But who, exactly, is George W. Bush's base?
-Right-wingers, who never met a gay person they liked or a fetus they didn't, don't like Bush. He's not conservative enough for them. He pays lip service to their causes, but the payoff just isn't there. Abortion is still legal, and those pesky gays seem to be getting more and more people to agree that yes, maybe they should be equal citizens of the United States after all.
-Fiscal conservatives don't like Bush. He's spending like a drunken sailor. It must really chap the hides of those fiscal conservatives that Bill Clinton, aka "The Evil One," actually racked up a sizeable budget surplus.
-Moderate Republicans, who think of themselves as such mainly because they believe Democrats just want to tax them to death, are much more liberal on social issues than the media understands. Many of them are turned off by Bush's anti-gay stance, and by the folly that was/is the Iraq War.
-Do veterans like Bush? Really? Because why are they going to rally around a guy who thought his National Guard service was less important than working on a campaign (or partying with ambitious secretaries, for that matter); who has cut services for them during wartime; and who has recklessly led the country into an unprovoked war? Will Bush's smears on Kerry's record really be a net gain for GWB? Or will the net effect of John McCain, Max Cleland and Kerry send the mud swinging back into Bush's face?
-Blue-collar workers seem to like Bush, despite his severely anti-union administration, and despite huge tax breaks for the richest Americans. "What's the Matter with Kansas?" by Thomas Frank deals with this topic in depth. I wonder if this part of the base is as strong as it seems. Still, there's always the "Terrorists are coming to kill you NOW! And I'm the only one who can protect you!" angle.
So who's left?
-The insanely rich.
-Military-industrial-complex CEOs, and those who hope to become them.
Is that enough of a base? We'll see.
BONUS LINK: 100 Mistakes