Monday, February 21, 2011

Father Knows Best

As events unfolded this past week in both Wisconsin and D.C., I was reminded me of a comment made by then Senator Joe Biden several years ago.  In a television interview he conceded that, essentially, the Democrats were the "Mommy" party, while the Republicans were the "Daddy" party.  (Actually, he may have been conceding something said by someone else.  I can't remember exactly.)

Biden is much better known for his multiple gaffes than he is for expressing political wisdom, but when he made this confession about the differences between the parties, he only said aloud what most Americans knew already.  And, very importantly, for your average American, it's a piece of knowledge that largely determines his vote.

As close as the 2000 presidential election was (Al Gore in fact won the popular vote), the day after 9/11 in 2001 you could almost hear the collective sigh of relief across the country:  "Under these new circumstances, thank God a Republican, and not a Democrat, occupies the White House."

Today, confronted as we are by an equally undeniable fiscal threat, it appears that the GOP is once again ascendant.  But this particular ascendancy is not so much because the people have come to blame the Democrats more than they do the Republicans for our current woes.  Both parties are responsible, to one degree or another, for the fiscal mess we're in.  Just as both parties were culpable, again, to one degree or another, for paying insufficient attention to the growing threat of radical Islam prior to 9/11.

Unlike for me, and probably for you too, for the average American this shift in support is not chiefly about ideology.  It's more visceral than cerebral.  (Which, by the way, makes it more precarious as well.)  But in increasing numbers, the people are turning to the Republican party for answers, for action, and, significantly, for reassurance. 

At the risk of offending my female readers, who are no doubt legion, when the stakes are high, really high, and the threat immediate, a family turns most naturally to its father for leadership.  This is not about gender.  Margaret Thatcher, for one, was clearly of the "Daddy" party.  Fair or not, in America the GOP fills the roll of the "Daddy" party.  As things currently stand, this is for it a tremendous political advantage.

Whether or not the Republican leadership can capitalize on and, more importantly for the country, institutionalize that advantage remains to be seen   To that end, they would do well to heed the advice of Don Corleone:  "It's an old habit. I spent my life trying not to be careless. Women and children can be careless, but not men."

No comments:

Post a Comment