Not surprisingly, red meat conservatives are wallowing in denial, now that the shock of Tuesday night has worn off. Basically, the arguments run along one of two or three lines: Obama tricked people, Obama stole the election or that despite the size and scope of the win across counties and states, he must abandon the liberal or progressive wing of the Democratic party and govern from the center.
Speaking yesterday on MSNBC’s Hardball, Michele Bernard intoned that “Obama will have to govern from the center because that’s where America is.”
Oh, no it isn’t, girl.
Then Neil Stevens, writing at Red State, insists, “Democrats are going to claim that Obama's margin of victory over John McCain was a large, overwhelming repudiation of the Republican party, and that it was possibly even a historical turning point of partisan political realignment. There's just one problem with that theory: It's not true.”
Sorry, Neil, but it is true.
Even David Brooks, appearing on the PBS NewsHour last night, stated firmly that “Obama will have to fight off the left-wing of his party to govern more from the center.”
Got it wrong, again, David.
Thursday morning, at his Conscience of a Liberal blog in The New York Times, Paul Krugman thoughtfully provided a county-by-county map of the United States showing which counties voted more heavily Democratic in 2008 than in 2004, and those counties voting more Republican this time around than in the last election. Much of the nation has a decidedly blue tint.
Sorry, Michelle; my condolences, Neil; heartfelt sympathies; David, look again. The fact is that the map clearly indicates a major leftward shift straight across the country, even in states McCain won. Only in eastern Oklahoma, a large swath of Arkansas, southern Louisiana (now heavily white in post-Katrina New Orleans) and Tennessee did more people cast Republican votes than in 2004.
And yet the right persists.
Victor Davis Hanson of the National Review grandly announces, “Like the young emperor Augustus, Obama may well have sensed that a country eager for change was still a largely traditional and centrist society — as this election’s relatively close popular vote reflected.”
A close popular vote? The map aside, Obama received well over 63.2-million votes, more than any presidential candidate in American history, beating McCain by nearly eight million votes – or the equvilent of about 12.5 Alaska’s.
Nevertheless, right wing blogger Kevin Walker wants to remind people that, “I just hope those few correct-minded people in Congress (Note: He means the remaining Republicans) will fight tooth and nail to Chairman O and his cohorts' policies that will only hurt America.”
Walker doesn’t say which of Obama’s policies will hurt America: Perhaps universal health care, which the vast majority of the country says it supports – including big business? Maybe ending Wall St. shenanigans that sent the US and the world spinning into a deep recession? How about getting out of Iraq, another winner with 80% of Americans who see the war as a tragic error? Will a more equitable tax code hurt America, with the rich actually paying their fair share? Walker leaves out the specifics.
Meanwhile, a far right, moon batty blogger who goes by the name of Moonbattery, is quoted on Huffington Post as writing, “This is a day of celebration for everyone hostile to America and the principles of individual liberty for which it stands.”
Excuse me, Moonbeam, but George Bush and Dick Cheney tore individual liberties to absolute scraps of paper during their two terms so the Bill of Rights only barely resembles what the Founding Fathers had in mind.
Even when it comes to the economy, conservatives remain in a state of denial. In describing what is happening now in the US, Manchester Union-Leader columnist Kathleen Parker writes today, “Granted, not everyone got to play Monopoly, but our hardships are relatively benign.”
Tell that to everyone who lost their job, their home, their health insurance and their hope for a better life.
The election made a number of things clear about 21st century America, prime among them that the Republican Party’s laisser-faire attitude about business and regulation, about social issues and the role of religion in public life, and what governing for all of the people means all need a massive re-think.
Barack Obama will be everybody’s president but, based on what happened in this election, the last thing he needs to do is worry about governing from the center. The American center has moved left.
*When I was young, oh so much younger than today, I believed that the United States would become completely unhinged at some point in my lifetime. This...