Through the 50s and 60s, Republicans paraded their fear of communism and eventually scared off hundreds of thousands of mainstream American voters. Today, they’re terrified by entitlement-driven federal deficits—the Medicare your mother loves, they say, is going broke.
Washington, they argue, needs a new team, new leaders who didn’t see action in foreign wars but can keep their heads in bankruptcy proceedings.
Amazingly, bland Mitt Romney and his green idealist Paul Ryan may be positioning their presidential campaign to scare off the same set of voters that Goldwater did: voters who just don’t have confidence in another Republican crusade.
Is talking about vouchers, bankruptcy, and 10-year breathing spaces good politics in swing states? Can a business reputation and a superior advertising budget turn voters inside out on whom to trust on social services?
The latest poll of swing states by Quinnipiac/University/New York Times/CBS News hints that that will be extremely difficult.
By roughly 10 points, voters worry more about Medicare than the federal deficit; and, on health care, they trust Obama over Romney by a similar margin.
Can Republicans, in just over two months of campaigning, turn the Democratic Party—the mother, guardian, steady friend, and now reluctant reformer of Medicare—into a negligent parent? Will humble middle-class voters send their loved ones off to live with those stern winners on the hill?
Do people without means on the South Side of Chicago look for a new friend on the North Side when they need help?
Would they rather shop for a friendlier insurance provider or go to their government representative, or even to another young community organizer?
Any day now, we’ll probably be bombarded by a more traditional Republican message: the services we cherish as a caring society demand economic growth and American business smarts.