Primary Issues

The story of any campaign for president in the year preceding the election (2007, 2003, 1999) is of the candidates'

The story of any campaign for president in the year preceding the election (2007, 2003, 1999) is of the candidates' efforts to woo the base voters who always vote in the primaries. You can't win a general election without first winning the primary, and so each of the presidential candidates will spend this year appealing to these primary voters who are more ideologically homogeneous than the electorate at large.

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Some candidates will embrace these base voters without reservation, while others will keep an eye on the general election and take a cautious approach to the red meat issues.

Whatever the case, we currently find ourselves in that period before a presidential election when Democrats strive to win the favor of the far-left and Republicans try to curry favor with the far-right. In other words, the Democratic candidates are strutting their anti-war credentials while the Republican candidates are focused on pleasing social conservatives on issues like abortion and gay marriage.

If the campaign continues this way, we are likely to see a campaign in which the Democrats have at least formulated a position (as convoluted as it may be) on a major issue facing the country, while the Republicans will have avoided it entirely in favor of social issues that are not the everyday concern to most Americans.

You see, as it stands now, the Democratic base is fired up about an issue that is more relevant to our everyday lives than the issues that generally whip up the Republican base. Like it or not, 2008 is not the year of abortion or gay marriage. Meanwhile, neither side will have addressed government spending which is a vitally important issue – both politically and for the sake of good governance.

Republicans have to be careful not to sell themselves out to extreme elements within the party at the expense of their ability to win in the fall. The Republican candidate cannot win the election solely on social issues, and fortunately the front-running Republicans seem to realize that. The primary campaign should be an opportunity for the Republicans to refine their policy proposals that relate to the War on Terror and fiscal policy at home. These issues will carry the day in November 2008, so let's start talking about them now.

Primary Issues