Run To The Right, Govern To The Left

As Mark Steyn writes, “Democrats win by pretending to be to the right of who they really are. Their base understands and accepts this”:

Veronique de Rugy wonders why gays are disappointed by President Obama:

Obama was and is still against gay marriage. Seriously, whatever your position on the issue of gay marriage is, it should at least have been a clue that the guy wouldn’t become a great advocate for the agenda of gay leaders. Right?

I think Veronique’s overlooking a central reality of contemporary electoral politics: Democrats win by pretending to be to the right of who they really are. Their base understands and accepts this. Thus, when Democrat candidates profess to believe that “marriage is between a man and a woman” or to be “personally passionately opposed to abortion” or even to favor “the good war” in Afghanistan and if necessary invade Pakistan, their base hears this as a necessary rhetorical genuflection to the knuckledragging masses but one that will be conveniently discarded on the first day in office.

On balance, this seems a healthier reaction than falling like schoolgirls for the candidate’s “centrism”, “fiscal responsibility”, “post-partisan temperament” and other hooey like certain conservatives thinkers we could mention.


In modern terms, it’s a phenomenon that dates at least back to the aftermath of Walter Mondale getting creamed in 1984 after promising to raise taxes, and arguably to Jimmy Carter’s centrist campaign in 1976. And as Ann Coulter wrote in 2003, forecasting John “Can I get me a hunting license here?” Kerry’s endgame in the election year to come:

When they’re running for office, all Democrats claim to support tax cuts (for the middle class), to support gun rights (for hunters) and to “personally oppose” abortion. And then they get into office and vote to raise taxes, ban guns and allow abortions if a girl can’t fit into her prom dress.

The common wisdom holds that “both parties” have to appeal to the extremes during the primary and then move to the center for the general election. To the contrary, both parties run for office as conservatives. Once they have fooled the voters and are safely in office, Republicans sometimes double-cross the voters. Democrats always do.

Did I say it dates back to 1976? Actually, try 1932.

Update: And speaking of botched campaign promises — or at the least the enormous potential for one, “If you thought troop morale was low now [in Afghanistan], wait.”


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