Willem-Adolphe Bouguereau, Liberal Democrat Pursued By the Furies, 1862, Chrysler Museum of Art
Jay Ambrose takes on the role of Greek chorus, chanting about the lessons “Progressives” should have learned when they were turned out of office last time and didn’t.
Go back some decades, and it looked as if liberals were going to be the death of America. They wanted to take it really easy on criminals. They favored welfare programs that destroyed families. They backed foreign aid that buttressed tyrannies. Their way of dealing with enemies was unilateral disarmament. Still other proposals could have spent, taxed and regulated us into oblivion.
The voters didn’t like all of this, the L-word became a curse, and so liberals went into something akin to a witness protection program. They changed their name to “progressives” and if they did not quite hide out, they became less obtrusive with some of their views. Yes, they griped, fumed, engaged in numerous sneak attacks and thumbed their noses at the opposition, but they did turn the lights dimmer than before on their grand vision of free-enterprise destruction and runaway statism.
Ah, but then after their surprising 1990s ascension came the self-destruction of earmark-happy, spendthrift congressional Republicans who seemed to assume power was theirs forever, even if many of their principles were proving strangely evaporative.
So first off, the Democrats took back Congress. Then Barack Obama used unexcelled rhetorical skills, a recession, an unpopular war in Iraq and George W. Bush’s deep decline in public estimation to capture the White House. Conservative values had supposedly been rejected, and behold, it was the liberal hour, a time for the enlightened few to strike back, to fix things – glory, glory hallelujah!
The arrogance was suffocating. Resurrected liberals were practically smirking as they instructed us to sweet-talk our way out of terrorist threats, advised we should quickly duplicate Europe’s semi-socialist mistakes and condescendingly dished up all manner of other liberty-smothering ideological inanities that would transform America into a poor imitation of what it once was. …
Ordinary Americans have caught onto all of this, and so, I am sorry, liberals, but the word of the day for you is “lose.” Your side has lost elections in New Jersey and Virginia, and now your side has lost the Senate seat previously held by the very liberal Ted Kennedy in very liberal Massachusetts to Scott Brown, a Republican.
The message to the Democrats is simple. Either give up your liberal ways and veer toward the center or face political catastrophe in November’s general election. The message to liberals generally is also simple: Get back into your witness protection program.
No, Senators and Congressmen, the message of 2008 was not, “Go ahead and repeat the New Deal.” What 2008 really proved is that Americans are, for the most part, pragmatic and apolitical. When politics gets too noisy or too scary, when things start going to pot economically, they throw out the incumbents and send in the other team.
The Clintons alarmed America with Hillarycare, and the voters took away their Congressional majority. So Bill Clinton pulled in his horns and tried to govern competently, making noises like a Centrist. The economy caught fire as the Republican Congress favorably impacted economic policies, and Bill Clinton ironically even escaped removal from office, despite the Monica Lewinsky scandal and his perjury, because the public was decidedly content with a divided government featuring a competent democrat administration (however corrupt) as long as the economy was good.
Barack Obama has a very undeserved reputation for high intelligence. He is so stupid that he never even understood that there has come to exist, post the unhappy 1970s, a fundamental and unspoken contract between voters and leaders in American national politics: Don’t screw up the economy and you can be in office.