One thing has become more clear since the 2012 election: why the charges about Obama’s leftism failed to gain traction in 2008.
When Obama was running for president the first time, it seemed as though there were so many things for which the American people would turn on him and realize that this was no moderate. Ayers, Soros, Alinsky, “spread the wealth,” electricity rates “skyrocketing,” bankrupting the coal companies. But strangely, none of them appeared to matter all that much, and Obama was elected with a hefty margin.
By 2012 things seemed even more clear. He’d failed to revive the economy or reduce the deficit. He’d championed a new, expensive, potentially intrusive, entitlement with mysterious and threatening details that kept emerging as time went on. He seemed hostile to business, both big and small (except for cronies, and big industry in swing states like Ohio whose votes he needed to court). His class warfare rhetoric was strongly divisive.
And yet he won, although by a lesser margin than before. I can only conclude that, for an ever-growing segment of the population, it wasn’t that they had to ignore and/or make excuses for these things. It’s that they approved of these things. The oft-repeated statement that this is a center-right country doesn’t seem to be the case any more, however many people may describe themselves as “conservative” on polls.
One of the most important lessons of the 2012 election for the right just may be that these changes in the perspective of much of the American public have been fundamental and need to be combated on a deeper level than previously thought. Perhaps that’s the biggest (and only?) plus in Romney’s loss: it lets us know what we’re dealing with.