Jay Cost at The Weekly Standard uses the election of William McKinley over William Jennings Bryan to explain why the presidential election in 2012 is a once-in-many-generations contest that Republicans are unlikely to win if social issues continue to trump fiscal ones and prevent the creation of a coalition that will beat Obama:
As we all know, Mitch Daniels has advocated a “truce” on social issues. This edition of Morning Jay will offer a defense of that idea, arguing that, given the unique circumstances of next year’s election, such a proposition could increase the chances of Republican victory in 2012.
First, let’s talk a little history.
We implicitly take our current circumstances for granted. We’re here because we are meant to be here. But that’s not really true. There have been plenty of junction points in history where we’d have to conclude that things could have easily gone another way altogether.
[Then Cost explains how the election of McKinley over William Jennings Bryan is comparable to our current national crossroads.]
This is why a modern update of McKinley’s “cultural ecumenicalism” might do the Republican Party enormous good, as it could make it easier for these critical suburbanites to come back to the Grand Old Party. And remember, a truce is not the same thing as capitulation. Nor, for that matter, is it a ceding of power to the so-called RINO establishment of the East. Mitch Daniels, after all, is a pro-lifer from Indiana, which has never been part of the elite Eastern GOP club, certainly not what is left of it (which is not very much!). A truce is just a temporary suspension of “hostilities” as culturally conservative and moderate voters recognize that they have the same fiscal interests at stake in the next election.
William McKinley has long been an unsung hero of modern, conservative Republicanism, and it’s high time that the Grand Old Party appreciate his important legacy. Few party leaders have been more thoroughly Republican than he — and if he was prepared to call a cultural truce to strengthen the anti-Bryan coalition, just how bad of an idea can it be for next year’s battle with Obama?