Getting Ready to Veer Right
The Bush administration's approach to governance evolved through three stages in America's two-decade march to the right: the realignment “South” underlying President Reagan, the further realignment “South” underlying the Gingrich-DeLay takeover, and Governor Bush's development in Austin of his own, even further-out program. Basically it all came down to turning right in 1981, turning hard right in 1995, and in Texas altogether rejecting the steering wheel on the driver's side and putting one in, special, to steer from the vehicle's right side. While that account conveys the overall direction, it omits the nuance, particularly the very distinctive groups pushing and sustaining the right turn—the sharp differences between, say, Jerry Falwell's Moral Majority movement and Malcolm Forbes's “Let me eat cake” approach. Moreover, it deserves supplementing with an examination of how the right could overcome the big political and legal obstacles that normally keep ideological minorities from beating down centrist majorities. And it calls for some understanding of the quite separate considerations involving how Jesse Helms and others put together a new stance for the right in foreign affairs to fill the gap left by the obsolescence of the hitherto all-important anti-communism issue. After addressing these points, the chapter moves to the foreshadowing of Bush's approach in the 2000 campaign and the Florida election contest.