Monday, December 29, 2003

Is Peace Really Good For Bush?

Democratic activists based outside Washington, particularly in battleground states that have lost a lot of manufacturing jobs since Bush took office, have no trouble coming up with arguments against Bush. Their critique centers on the economic struggles of the working class - people who have a hard time making ends meet, getting a decent education for their children, and paying for health insurance.

If the Democrats seem prepared to fight the election on the grounds of class warfare, the Republicans seem prepared to go after many of those same swing voters on cultural grounds. Mr. Reed, in a recent column in the Washington Post, wrote archly about fellow Democrats moaning that if Bush gets to campaign on peace and prosperity, "what's left for us to run on? Gay marriage?"

Bruce Reed, a former top Clinton aide and president of the centrist Democratic Leadership Council, sees the battleground states - economically hurting, culturally conservative - coming down to the wire in 2004. "Voters will be conflicted about which concerns to make paramount," he said in an interview.

He also argued that, in fact, peace and prosperity don't necessarily hand the election to Bush. If Americans are feeling more relaxed about safety by November 2004, that will allow them to turn to the domestic concerns (education and healthcare costs) that traditionally favor the Democrats.

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