Economic conservatives pointed out the fiscal disaster heading straight for us, which Obama has made worse by quantum levels. The majority didn't care. Social conservatives talked about marriage and religious liberty. The majority turned them aside. Foreign policy conservatives pointed to the President's awful policy mistakes, and even his callous abandonment of a U.S. Ambassador to his death. The majority yawned. One possible conclusion is that we are no longer a center-right country, but now a center-left country. Certainly, that's the kind of country that Obama wants to make us. Is that now an accomplished fact? Can conservatives ever win again on the national level?
Well, we certainly won in the 2010 midterm elections, and I think we'll do well two years hence. Obama ran away from his record, and he's got nothing to offer that will fix the messes he's made or worsened. But then, how to explain such a defeat of a very good candidate running against a very bad incumbent? Was it all just about incumbency, or getting out the vote, or demographics?
At the end of my sophomore year in high school, I ran for Junior Class President. It was fun. I made some cool posters. I gave my campaign speech. And I lost. Big time. The cool kids with all the friends came out ahead in the student body elections, as always. Quirky, shy guys who lived in their heads need not have applied. And you can understand why. After all, what is there to run on? You can't promise anything. You have no real duties, other than organizing the prom, or, later, organizing class reunions. Student body elections aren't really about anything, other than popularity.
Looking at this election and reading my liberal friends' internet postings, I get the idea that that is all this campaign was about. The cool kids all banded together to elect their guy, because those other kids and their guy were just -- icky. Out of it. Not cool.
Sour grapes? But consider: while a majority of the electorate clearly favored Barack Obama, consistent polling has shown that clear majorities do not favor his signature achievements and principal stands. When asked what they think we need, Americans say we need to fix the debt and deficit problems, they say we don't want Obamacare, and so on. But when asked whom they want to be their leader, they choose the guy who made the mess (or made it catastrophically worse). Why? Because, you know -- he's cool.
This cultural liking for liberals, as such, is as much a fact to be dealt with as the public's desire for conservative policies. In the end, the country wants liberal politicians to do conservative things. Which is nuts. But there you are. If it all mattered no more than who got to be Junior Class President, it wouldn't bother me, but of course, it matters a lot. In the end, the decisions made in voting booths are not made on the basis of careful calculation, but in response to deeply held values. It's the culture, stupid.