By Jeremy Barr
When it comes to Republican presidential politics, there is no harsher word to use when describing your opponent than the “L” word – liberal. In a recent ad, former Massachusetts Governor and occasional front-runner Mitt Romney described Arizona senator and pseudo front-runner John McCain’s positions on energy, immigration, and campaign finance reform as “liberal.”
This of course is a bad thing in Republican circles, and evokes images of Al Gore holding corporations accountable for their carbon emissions, Nancy Pelosi pushing for health care for all Americans, and of course John Edwards pushing for an end to corporate greed and poverty. You know, the kinds of nightmares that keep Republicans up at night. This notion of being “too liberal” ties in with the idea of having conservative credentials (in the model of former President Ronald Reagan).
This desire for partisan credentials is not seen on the Democratic side of the election. Democratic presidential candidate debates generally revolve around issues like who has the best plan for instituting health care reform, and who can salvage the economy best from a recession, rather than who has joined the most pro-Ronald Reagan groups on Facebook. While Democrats get a debate about what the candidates are, Republicans get a debate about what they aren’t. In the end, I believe that the party of ideas and policy will win out. The Republicans have just eight months to change years of tradition.