Lisa Fabrizio
September 22, 2004
Red State revolution
By Lisa Fabrizio

A lot has changed since September 11, 2001. There is a 'new' Europe which is largely made up of former Soviet Bloc nations and those on that continent who support the U.S. in the War on Terror. We also have a 'new' media which mainly consists of the Internet, talk radio and Fox News. Now too, it seems, we have what I call 'new' Democrats, specifically those in the New York Tri-State area.

Once, these folks were called Reagan Democrats; those drawn to the optimism and charisma of our fortieth president after the interminable reign of Jimmy Carter. They quickly reverted to their party however, voting faithfully and overwhelmingly in the last three elections for their party's nominee. But a sea change appears to be rolling in from the Atlantic Ocean.

The latest Rasmussen poll numbers from New York and New Jersey shockingly show President Bush within the margin of error, compared to 2000, when he lost those states by margins of 25 and 26 points respectively. In my home state of Connecticut, John Kerry leads by a similarly slim seven points in another case of a reliably blue state in danger of going code red.

It is easy enough to attribute these numbers to a post-9/11 mentality, seeing as the great majority of those murdered at the World Trade Center lived in these states indeed, one of the saddest sights in the nights immediately following that awful day was that of abandoned cars dotting commuter parking lots, never to be reclaimed by their owners.

But it is more than security and revenge factors that may lead to the defection of these new Democrats. Here in the Northeast, we have a strange phenomenon where most of our elected officials represent the Democratic majority, but our governors (even in liberal bastion Massachusetts) are almost all Republicans, reflecting a quirky combination of fiscal conservativism and social liberalism.

Local elections aside, it seems that the many of my fellow Yankees at least those of the Connecticut variety are eschewing switch-hitting and considering planting their feet firmly in the right side of the batter's box.

Speaking as one who was born a DINO (Democrat In Name Only), I've seen many of my dyed-in-the-wool Democratic friends coming out of the electoral closet. First there was Don, a high, state-ranked muck-a-muck who campaigned for favorite son Joe Lieberman then refused to even attend his party's convention. Why? Three words: Osama bin Laden.

Next were Phil and Charlie, lifelong partisans and avowed union men who not only will vote for Bush but are contemplating the unthinkable: attaching the R-word to their names. The reason? See Zell Miller's speech.

Then there is Kenny, who, for the last three years, waged weekly battles with those of us on the right; harshly ragging on Bush, mostly on the Iraq War and matters economic. A devoted leader of the local Knights of Columbus, this good man finally confided on Friday that Bush's unshakable defense of the unborn makes it impossible for him to vote for fellow Catholic Kerry.

These were followed by others who had followed the old custom of never talking politics or religion at a bar. Now, thanks in part to Mr. Kerry and Mr. bin Laden, current events discussions are no longer limited to last night's winner of Survivor.

There's Tony, who has a two-hour commute and discovered Sean Hannity on his car radio. And Mary, who I was recently surprised to learn was a conservative, though in our years-long acquaintance, we had never once talked politics. And Nick, who has never voted but is now fascinated by examples of Kerry's doubletalk as received unfiltered through the 'new' media.

Though still vastly outnumbered on the voting rolls, those of us who long considered ourselves trapped behind enemy lines here in Liberal Land, are seeing a shift in attitude and opinion. And this time it is being driven, not by an individual like Reagan, but by changing times and changing party agendas.

Come November, these new Democrats may not carry the day for President Bush, but as the polls show, they will make many in their party sit up and take notice. But if they flip even one of these states into the blue column, it will be a Nor'easter that will fell many in its wake.

© Lisa Fabrizio

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Lisa Fabrizio

Lisa Fabrizio is a freelance columnist from Stamford, Connecticut. You may write her at mailbox@lisafab.com.

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