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Can We Finally Write the Postmortems On Hope and Change?

August 28, 2009

It is an immutable law of American politics that any electoral victory by a bona fide conservative will be explained away by liberal intelligentsia as the insidious work of big business colluding with religious nut jobs in order to get inbred rednecks to drop their banjos and Bibles long enough to pull the lever for a conservative Republican.

Conversely, every liberal Democrat to come down the pike and win an election is touted as “proof” that a new era of progressivism is underway and the victorious candidate has won a mandate for “fundamental change”.  What liberals usually mean by “fundamental change” is, “I get to enact my policy preferences in contravention of the Constitution”.

One could literally paint a large city with the amount of ink liberal scribblers devoted to the proposition that conservatism is D-E-D, dead and that the people have spoken in favor of more proactive government.  In his inaugural address, President Obama alluded to this idea, saying, “the question we ask today is not whether our government is too big or too small, but whether it works”.  If there has been a liberal known to history that has ever thought that any government program could do with less, I’d sure like to hear about it.  But either way, President Obama would use that “mandate” of his to cram through porkulus.  This was tolerated by a skeptical public mostly because of the personal charisma and likability of the president. 

There were signs early on that the president was all hope and change, and no mandate.  Almost from the beginning, his policy initiatives have been dramatically less popular than he is personally.  By far and large, people trust him to make things work that they repeatedly are willing to profess they don’t think will work.  This is the manifest danger of liberalism: driven by cults of personality, wildly unpopular ideas, we’re told, will work this time because of the genius and charisma of the person fronting them.  It’s why liberal journalists can’t stumble through a single sentence without reciting the background and pedigree of their favored politicians.  Barack Obama, who graduated from Harvard Law… Bill Clinton, who was a Rhodes Scholar… John Kerry, who served in Vietnam… We are forever told that any half-wit liberal who comes down the pike makes Einstein look like a dummy.  That’s not to say that Clinton or President Obama are dummies; but if they were, we wouldn’t know it for all the hagiographical slobbering of the sycophantic press.

But then–oops!–porkulus turned out to be an unmitigated disaster that even a pliant media couldn’t cover up.  All the glistening encomiums in the world can’t cover up the fact that unemployment numbers have skyrocketed past the point that the Obama administration had projected would occur if stimulus were passed.  And then there is the troubling tendency of the president–who, as I’ve said, is certainly no idiot–to think that profuse apology is the perfect panacea for all of our foreign policy challenges.  Next, we’ll start apologizing to hurricanes on account of the fact that we build levees to stop them, and we’ll start issuing apologies to the sun to cure “global warming” on account of all the sunscreen we use–which, come to think of it, is a better strategy than cap-and-trade, since global warming is fast becoming understood for the hoax that it is.

If liberals thought that the sight of average Americans objecting to astronomical deficit spending was alarming, their reaction to ObamaCare must have seemed nothing short of apocalyptic at first. 

Bereft of compelling arguments as to why the American people should accept the nationalization of 1/5 of the economy, liberals resorted to their default factory setting: slandering and libeling the opposition.  The problem is, the opposition in this case is average men and women who pay their due tax burden, don’t owe any allegiance to “oh so eeevil” insurance companies, and in many cases, have no party preference.  Liberals are aghast–hoi polloi is exercising his rights to free speech!  However will the Republic survive?

At every turn, liberals’ favored narrative is being undermined, most perplexedly by some of the same independents who helped sweep President Obama in to office. 

Could it be that President Obama was elected in spite of his predilection for wealth redistribution and behemoth government–and not because of it?  Is it possible that President Obama’s vilification of the dreaded Bushitler–a favored tactic during the campaign–has now lost all effectiveness?  Could it be that the people expect their president to finally stop campaigning and start governing?  And could it be that President Obama appeared to be have such a firm mastery of oration because he ran against a man who struggled to convey principles any deeper than “let’s cut earmarks”?  Not surprisingly, none of this strikes liberal intelligentsia as a possibility.  It’s much simpler to imagine that President Obama’s election was an explicit endorsement of the liberal catechism in toto. 

A scant seven months after his election, Obama the demigod has morphed into Obama the man.  His approval rating has now slipped below fifty percent, distrust of his economic policies is growing, and his signature policy initiative–health care–is on life support.

It is an article of faith among conservatives that we live in a center-right country.  Is there any doubt now?  Even after the election of the “transformative” Barack Obama, Americans still harbor a healthy skepticism for government intervention in their lives and in the economy.  Perhaps we can stop pretending that last November’s election was a realigning one.  Perhaps we can write the post-postmortems on the myth of hope and change.

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