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U.S. Election Shaking Up Both Parties

Posted November. 13, 2006 07:00,   


Neodems Are Emerging-

One Neodem is U.S. senator-elect Jim Webb, who served as secretary of the Navy under the Ronald Reagan administration. Running as a Democratic candidate, he reiterated, “[I am] running for the Senate only because I am against the war on Iraq.” Many of those who voted for him are supporters of the Republican Party.

Other examples of the Neodem movement include senators-elect Jon Tester (Montana) and Heath Shuler (North Carolina), both of whom oppose abortion and advocate ownership of guns. Another senator-elect, Bob Casey (Pennsylvania), clearly stated during his campaign trail his opposition to stem cell research.

For the election, Chairman Rahm Emmanuel of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC)—the Democratic Party’s campaign strategist considered to be as brilliant as Karl Rove, the deputy chief of staff and President George W. Bush’s campaign advisor—invited conservative figures to be the party’s local candidates for the South and the Midwest, two strongholds of the GOP.

These Neodems are taking the same line as those of the party’s centrist groups: the New Democrat Coalition (NDC) and the Blue Dog Coalition. Established in 1995, the Blue Dog Coalition has pursued centrist conservatism in economic and social policies, playing a key role in the Democrats’ victory in the off-year election in 1998.

Though denounced by party members as pro-Republican, these groups have now become a considerable force, taking up 20 percent of the party’s entire seats in Congress.

Chances are high that they might clash with house speaker-to-be Nancy Pelosi and other veteran progressives, as the groups have very different inclinations. The British newspaper The Times forecasted, “Senate floor leader Harry Reid and house speaker Nancy Pelosi will have a hard time maintaining the identity of the Democratic Party; their leadership will now be tested.”

Their influential power is directly linked to the party’s political line for the upcoming presidential election in 2008. In a survey conducted by Newsweek magazine, 50 percent of respondents anticipated the Democratic Party will take a centrist line, with 34 percent saying it will go for a progressive course.

Senator Hillary Clinton has also put herself forward as a person representing centrism, not progressivism. The Blue Dog Coalition is one of her main targets.

The Demise of Neocons and Resurrection of the Orthodox GOP Line?-

In the Republican Party, the Neocons are rapidly declining, while those who call themselves “orthodox Republicans” are gaining ground again. Right now, Defense secretary nominee Robert Gates, who will replace the outgoing secretary Donald Rumsfeld, and James Baker, the former state secretary and Republican co-chair of the Iraq Study Group, are fast emerging. Aides of former President George W. Bush, they are people that epitomize the rational conservative line.

Also emerging as promising candidates in the party are Senator John McCain and former New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani. They consider themselves orthodox Republicans, resisting the Neocon ideology that emphasizes unilateral diplomacy and evangelicalism.

McCain has opposed sending more U.S. troops to Iraq and torturing terror suspects and has long pushed for amendment of the Political Fund Act, acting as if he were an independent, not a Republican. Having been married three times, Giuliani has rarely been considered a conservative. For these two, the GOP’s defeat in the off-year election may become a new opportunity.