For nearly a week now Democrats have been gloating. They are convinced that the American people have affirmed their view of a multicultural America.
Some Republican pundits are sheepishly throwing in the towel on immigration reform, even though the Romney position was at serous odds with the positions of many senior Republican officials. Some are vowing to fight Barack Obama to the bitter end.
This morning Ross Douthut introduced some rationality into the mix, arguing that Republicans need to develop an economic agenda that will appeal to voters across the spectrum.
I would add that they also need a concept, a principle around which to articulate and communicate their policies.
By the Republican calculus, large segments of the American population voted against their economic self-interest. Voters whose communities have borne the brunt of the failed Obama policies turned out in droves to affirm their support of Obama.
In so doing they were saying that capitalism, not Obama, had failed them. One suspects that they are about to get a rude awakening.
One does not want to contemplate how much misery they will need before they will start thinking clearly.
Taking the other side of the question, Abe Greenwald suggests that it's really the Democrats who should start worrying. By Greenwald’s calculation Obama did not win on his record; he won on his demagogic persona, his ability to attract a cult following.
When the cult leader retires from the scene four years from now, what will be left of the Democratic party?
The president’s reelection is not evidence of a new liberal America, but rather of the illogical and confused experience that is infatuation. For multiple reasons, Americans continue to have a crush on Barack Obama even after his universally panned first term. No longer quite head over heels, they’re at the “I know he’s no good for me, but I can change him” phase. Whatever this means, it surely doesn’t suggest conservatives would be wise to move closer to policies that aren’t even popular among Obama supporters.
Why isn’t soul searching underway on the left? When the personality at the center of the cult leaves the stage in four years, Democrats will own his results without the benefit of his appeal. We can’t know quite what a second Obama term will bring, but if his first term is an indication, there’s little reason to expect his party will be crowing. The fiscal cliff is here but a whole landscape of steep drops comes next: the economic cliff (over which lies a possible double-dip recession), the Obamacare cliff (over which lies an unprecedented bureaucratic behemoth), the Iran cliff (over which lies a nuclear bomb), and so on. A precipice in every direction and a president who’s given us no reason to presume he can steer clear. Have Democrats stopped to wonder what initiatives they’ll have to defend when the dust settles in 2016?
It is in the nature of personality cults to fail at most things beyond generating and disseminating propaganda. This inability is the result of two things. First, the personality’s popularity is not results-driven. Since adoration hasn’t been earned by achievement but by the advent of charisma, why kill yourself trying to get results. Second, few people are willing to candidly critique the personality at the center of the cult, so there is little chance of course correction. None of this bodes well for Barack Obama. And for the country’s sake, let’s hope it’s wrong.
It’s always possible that the Democrats will rally to another cult leader, but it is hard to imagine that anyone can match the demagogic appeal of Barack Obama.
If the Democrats are doomed, as one likes to think, they will most likely be brought down by their own hubris. Watching Democrats gloat, one is reminded of an old Biblical proverb.
Here is the King James translation:
Pride goeth before destruction,
Aristotle counted magnanimity as one of the most important virtues a leader can possess.
A magnanimous leader tries to bring people together. He reaches out to his opponents. He does not worry about consolidating power; he seeks to win the respect of all those he will govern.
Obama seems incapable of being magnanimous. He and the Obamaphile left consider conservatives and Republicans to be evil, thus needing to be destroyed.
Paul Krugman, Frank Rich and E. J. Dionne insist that one should never compromise with evil Republicans.
Of course, if the country is headed in the wrong direction, as most American seem to think, and if the economy is going to contract sooner rather than later, then the issue is going to be: who is going to be saddled with the blame.
Bill O’Reilly said last week that if the economy falls apart on the Democrats’ watch, the Obama victory might be a death knell for liberal policies.
Commenting on the Richard Fernandez blog at Pajamas Media, Leo Linbeck III also called Obama’s victory Pyrrhic:
The President ran a brilliant campaign. He ran overwhelmingly negative ads, early and focused and targeting the battleground states. He was able to define Romney, and his messaging was perfectly calibrated for his target audiences. Given his first term record, he really had no other choice, and his execution was first-rate.
But now he will reap what he sowed. His pretense of being a uniter, someone who can reach across the aisle and work together to solve pressing problems, lies in ruins. Whatever reservoir of goodwill and trust that existed in January 2009 is now bone dry.
So, yes, he won. But it will almost certainly be a Pyrrhic victory. He chose to divide the country deeply to win his second term. He will find that the nation he will again lead is not governable by him, and he may have tipped it to where it is not governable by anyone. He is so deeply despised by so much of the country that he will never be able to do what needs to be done (assuming he even wanted to, which does not appear likely).
The reaping will begin sooner than he probably expects. The ship of state is heading toward the Scylla and Charybdis of the fiscal cliff (in 2012) and Obamacare (in 2013). At work, we have been looking at the impact of Obamacare, and all I can say is that the average person has absolutely no idea how enormous the impact will be on their life. It will be an enormous shock to the system, and it will hit almost everyone in the country.
If Linbeck and O’Reilly, and, by the way, Jim Rogers are right, Obamacare and a flood of new regulations, coupled with tax increases will probably precipitate a new recession.
Republicans now need to ask themselves whether they should try to obstruct the Obama agenda, no matter the cost, or step aside and let Obama fail on his own.
Why not trust the free markets to offer the ultimate verdict on the Obama presidency?
Republicans have been diminished by the election. They cannot promote their own agenda. They do not have the political muscle to do so and besides, their flirtation with Mitt Romney has left them agendaless..
One hesitates to condone policies that will damage the economy, but, what other options do Republicans have?
The nation got duped a second time by Barack Obama. Why not let them have the full Obama?