Eroding A Fundamental Pillar Of The Right
One of the curious things that happened as a result of this election is the obliteration of a central line of thought on the right. In wins and losses electorally, Republicans and conservatives often comfort themselves with the idea that fundamentally America agrees with them. Even in what passes for a big electoral win in the modern era, the 2008 election, the right told themselves that Obama had simply fooled America into believing he was a moderate.
The thesis of 2012 was that now exposed as a leftist, the right would simply need to show up and appeal to the America they know and love and they would win. Even better, they thought, was the idea that Obama didn’t run away from his ideology. Obama ran on raising taxes for the wealthy, on an activist federal government that would involve itself on a host of issues.
But America didn’t reject Obama. It rejected the conservative position and even though the election was closer than 2008, it was a more outright rejection than conservatives expected.
For the first time in a long time, even after electoral losses to Clinton and in the 2006 midterms, the right has to actually question a fundamental pillar of their movement – the idea that their positions are America’s true defaults.
Polls indicating a new generation of Americans who believe in an activist government, one that favors federal stimulus over tax cuts, further erodes this mindset.
Even when Clinton crushed Dole in 1996, the right didn’t feel as if America had flat-out rejected them as it does now.
The right has returned to this trope so often, and it is regularly used to blast liberals for being the ones who are truly out of touch. But a lot of it hasn’t actually worked. Polling shows that Republicans are thought of as the party of the rich far more often than Democrats are considered elites. Despite oodles of GOP rhetoric about latte-sipping liberals, Democrats are more often associated with the middle and working class than Republicans.
Despite the size of the right’s megaphone, the perception hasn’t caught on.
This isn’t to say Republicans can’t or won’t be elected, but the central idea – the forthright rightness of the conservative/Republican outlook on the world that was thought to be held by Americans who only supported Democrats when they could fake these positions – is bankrupt.
I expect they will continue to reassure themselves that the nation will come around, though I also expect that day won’t come. As in the past, it’s going to take a change in the party for them to get over this disconnect. That’s not impossible, both parties have morphed over time. The Democratic and Republican parties of 1960 are nothing like the parties today.