Swinging the War Fatigued
By KyleH Posted in 2008 — Comments (14) / Email this page » / Leave a comment »
Things are looking better for our victory in Iraq. If the general trends continue through the end of this year, public opinion should also start to turn around. This is good timing for almost any Republican candidate in the upcoming presidential election next year. I am still worried, however, that we have lost some base support from war fatigue. Is there a way for our eventual nominee to win back some of these voters?
First, let's look at the opposition to the war. It can be placed in three broad categories: peaceniks, isolationists, and the war fatigued. It is hard to tell whether the peaceniks oppose the war because of Bush or whether they oppose Bush because of the war. Either way, they are the hard-core opposition. Even if we could turn Iraq into a perfect liberal paradise, they would still be opposed. They are the core of the Democratic support.
While peaceniks are mostly emotionally against war, the isolationists are primarily intellectually against it. Isolationists are attracted to the Libertarian Party and Him-who-must-not-be-named in the Republican primary. Of course some of HWMNBN's support also comes from peaceniks. There is probably even a good overlap between these first two groups. Not all libertarians or libertarian-leaning people are isolationists, for example Glenn Reynolds of Instapundit. The isolationists tend to be the hard core libertarians. Even so, some might be attracted to the Republican candidate from other issues. It would be great if they vote Republicans but we cannot count on them.
Finally we have the war fatigued. These are the voters who mildly supported or had no opinion about Iraq at the start of the war, but who think it has dragged on too long. They have been bombarded with a steady stream of bad news from the MSM. Their opinion of Bush (and Republicans) has soured because of Iraq. These are swing voters who can be won back. Some might be persuaded by recent signs of victory, but not all and maybe not a majority.
The best political strategy of swinging them back is a careful distancing from President Bush. While the fatigued are not peaceniks, they are influence by them. Theses swing voters are the battleground between those of us who support victory in Iraq and the peaceniks. The vulnerability of peaceniks arguments is their hatred of Bush. For them Bush is Iraq but this is not necessarily so for the fatigued. If we can separate Iraq from Bush in the minds of the fatigued then the peaceniks will loose most of their persuasion. They will go on and on about how bad Bush is, but the fatigue will think, "so what, Bush is not running."
To do this, our candidate needs to criticize the original Bush (and Rumsfield) policy of the light footprint. They should not just embrace the surge but advocate an expanded military that can implement a heavy presence in any future conflict. After all we are still at war. Even with a future victory in Iraq and Afghanistan, A.Q. is still a deadly force to be dealt with for a number of years. Even with the future death of bin Laden this conflict isn't going away any time soon.
I have yet to hear any criticism of Bush from the top Republican candidates. Respectful criticism of policy would win some swing voters while retaining the base.