Skip to comments.The Meaning of Yesterday’s Defeat (US no longer a center-right country)
Posted on 11/07/2012 10:34:16 AM PST by mojito
Yesterday was a comprehensive disaster. Here in Minnesota, to add a local perspective, not only did the state go for Obamano surprise therebut the Democrats recaptured both houses of the legislature, and voters defeated two ballot initiatives, one on gay marriage and one on voter ID. Similar losses were sustained across the nation, although there were a few bright spots here and there. So yesterdays defeat was not about a flawed presidential candidate or presidential campaign.
What lessons can we draw? To begin with, conventional political wisdom was upended in a number of ways. When a president runs for re-election, the campaign is a referendum on his performance; undecided voters break against the incumbent; its the economy, stupid. These and other familiar maxims can be consigned to the dustbin.
But there is a much more important proposition that, I think, was proved false last night: that America is a center-right country. This belief is one that we conservatives have cherished for a long time, but as of today, I think we have to admit that it is false. America is a deeply divided country with a center-left plurality. This plurality includes a vast number of citizens who describe themselves as moderates, but whose views on the issues are identical or similar to those that have historically been deemed liberal.
Decades ago my father, the least cynical of men, quoted a political scientist who wrote that democracy will survive until people figure out that they can vote themselves money. That appears to be the point at which we have arrived. Put bluntly, the takers outnumber the makers. The polls in this election cycle diverged in a number of ways, but in one respect they were remarkably consistent: every poll I saw, including those that forecast an Obama victory, found that most people believed Mitt Romney would do a better job than Barack Obama on the economy. So with the economy the dominant issue in the campaign, why did that consensus not assure a Romney victory? Because a great many people live outside the real, competitive economy. Over 100 million receive means tested benefits from the federal government, many more from the states. And, of course, a great many more are public employees. To many millions of Americans, the economy is mostly an abstraction.
Then there is the fact that relatively few Americans actually pay for the government they consume. To a greater extent than any other developed nation, we rely on upper-income people to finance our federal government. When that is combined with the fact that around 40% of our federal spending isnt paid for at allit is borrowedit is small wonder that many self-interested voters are happy to vote themselves more government. Mitt Romney proclaimed that Barack Obama was the candidate of free stuff, and voters took him at his word.
The question is, can this vicious cycle ever be broken? Once we are governed by a majority that no longer believes in the America of the Founding, is there any path back to freedom and prosperity? The next four years will bring unprecedented levels of spending, borrowing and taxation. The national debt will rise to $20 trillion or more. When interest rates increase, as they inevitably must, interest costs will squeeze out other government spending. That might not be all bad, except that defense will go first. If Obamas second term turns into a disaster, fiscal or otherwise, voter revulsion may return the Republicans to power. But that doesnt mean that America will be saved.
To me, the most telling incident of the campaign season was a poll that found that among young Americans, socialism enjoys a higher favorability rating than free enterprise. How can this possibly be, given the catastrophic failure of socialism, and the corresponding success of free enterprise, throughout history? The answer is that conservatives have entirely lost control over the culture. The educational system, the entertainment industry, the news media and every cultural institution that comes to mind are all dedicated to turning out liberals. To an appalling degree, they have succeeded. Historical illiteracy is just one consequence. Unless conservatives somehow succeed in regaining parity or better in the culture, the drift toward statism will inevitably continue, even if Republicans win the occasional election.
This is not primarily the job of politicians, but politicians cannot escape it, either. I have been grumbling for a long time that Ronald Reagan was the last politician who made a real effort to teach the principles of conservatism to the American public. Since the 1980s, we have largely been coasting on his legacy. The prevailing assumption has been that America is a center-right country, and if Republican politicians run a good tactical campaign and get their voters to the polls, they will generally win. That strategy no longer works, and conservative politicians need to try much harder not just to appeal to conservative voters, but to help create new ones.
The stark question posed by the countrys unmistakable drift to the left is, does America have a future? Can we once again become a beacon of freedom, or will talented young Americans be forced to look elsewhere for opportunity? Barack Obamas budgetthe one that was too extreme to garner a single vote in either the House or the Senateprojects that in four years, we will have a $20 trillion debt. That debt will be paid off by a relatively small minority of our young people, the most productive. If you were in that category, and had to make a choice between staying in the United States and inheriting a debt that could well be $1 million or more, and starting fresh in another country, what would you do? And if you were an investor, where would you put your money? In the United States, where hopelessness reigns and where high unemployment and close to zero growth are now accepted as normal, or in a country with limited government and a dynamic, growing economy?
These are dark days, indeed.
It’s going to take the country hitting rock bottom before people start listening to conservatives again...for now, for all intents and purposes, we are a One-Party State.
We are no longer left of center either.
We took a massive turn left yesterday. And from the looks of it, we are only going to stampede further left in the years to come.
There will be hell to pay. Might as well let it crash now, so we can get started on the reconstruction sooner rather than later.
The "ME generation hit voting age back around '08. Everyone votes, not with respect of what is best for The Country, but "what's in it for me". What better guy than Barry (it's all about ME) Benghazi.
BTW - "0bama gone put gas in mah cah and make mah house payment. And he gave this free phone."
The future belongs to countries like India and China, The United States is currently where the British Empire was in 1912....
The attrition that will occur in their ranks when they are cut off in the inevitable collapse is the only way to lower their numbers. We just have to ride out the storm and rise from the ashes.
Good article. It immediately occurred to me that America is now a leftist nation. The author brings up some good points. I agree with all of it.
My only question is, is there a conservative nation left on Earth? How could a young person go somewhere and start fresh when the place they go to is just as screwed up.
I am fortunate...I grew up in the 50s and 60s...I saw the best of America...Since my late 20;s, Ive seen a downward spiral in my country...It has reached proportions now that I doubt are recoverable...I weep for my children and my grandchildren. I think I will die before the end of the USA, but it isnt very far away, Im afraid....
What a loss for the world, this country....
That the left got more people to the polls in key states in key areas. Community Organizing 101....
And now with Obamacare firmly in place, all the democrats have to do is scream, “Republican’s want to cut money for Obamacare which means you will have to wait six months in the national cue for a checkup instead of the 3 months you do now!!” Not to mention Michelle Obama’s school lunches will expand to adults, now that the government “owns” your health care they have a stake in making sure you eat right and excercise, after all they don’t want their property “your body” to fall apart before the death panel says it’s time.
Short answer: No. All one can say is, "Forgive them, Lord, for they know not what they have done."
You simply don’t win elections with a message of “Vote for Me, because I suck less than the other guy.”
Even greater concern of mine is what about the debt? Will Obama will be willing to start turning around and veto/negotiate to actually lower the debt, like he promised in both 2008 and 2012. I would like to believe so, but it’s all his choice, and not mine.
Not true. Finally saw some of the Obama ads that ran here in Texas the final week or two before the election. And I have to admit, they kinda sounded good to this conservative. He had killed Osama Bin Laden. He saved the Auto companies. He was trying to solve the budget crisis from Bush. Heck, kinda got me excited a little. So basically, Obama lied like the weasel he is. And we now know that if Palin had been the VP, the election might have been a repeat of Gore/Bush. Obama 60.1 million. McCain Palin 59.9 million. Dead heat with electorial college deciding.
“So with the economy the dominant issue in the campaign, why did that consensus not assure a Romney victory? Because a great many people live outside the real, competitive economy. Over 100 million receive means tested benefits from the federal government, many more from the states. And, of course, a great many more are public employees. To many millions of Americans, the economy is mostly an abstraction.”
It is because 4 generations of Americans have lived in a nation free of a war of immediate threat, crippling economic depression, and cheap plentiful junk at the store and on TV.
In short, we have millions that think that life as it is in America IS THE DEFAULT SETTINGS FOR LIFE ON EARTH.
So for them, they can play with socialism and redistribution. That they can get free goodies from the government. That they can just pay for stuff with a plastic card or paper because those things are “worth” something.
America is a 60-year old dreamworld that puts the Roman Empire to shame and the dream is about up.
I think the Out of Ashes series was prophetic, the author was just off by 24 years.
I consider myself fortunate that I got to live the whole of the 1980s. The last time this nation really shined bright and inspired all the peoples of the world to achieve better things.
Now I feel like I’m imagining a time that must have been made up because it is so far removed. And 1985 wasn’t even 30 years ago!
We lost because we countered the Obama Phone with Obama Phone w/ fewer minutes.
Looks at the numbers...Obama got about the same number of voters as GW did in 2004...who was also a weak incumbent.
Conservatives are not in a demographic decline, we simply haven’t had a canidate since 1984.
BTW, this election was fraud-a-polousa. We need to clean that up first.
I also grew up in the ‘50s-’60s, in an America that was the envy of the world — and with good reason. Indeed, it’s a loss that will touch every corner of the globe sooner or later. I’m glad I don’t have a lot of years left; I’ve already lived too long.