Surely this was not what Jon Stewart had in mind. Three days after the comedian performed before some 200,000 liberals at the Rally to Restore Sanity on the National Mall, 90 million Americans rallied to their polling stations to make his theme a reality.
Young people (though conspicuously few minorities) came out in droves for the clown-fest. But very few of them (approximately half as many as in 2008, by one estimate, and fewer than in the 2006 mid-terms) bothered to show up on Election Day.
It seems that liberals would sooner listen to smug comedians parody conservatives than to vote for smug politicians whose policies parody constitutional governance. At a time of near 10 percent unemployment, most Americans aren’t in a laughing mood.
For two years the Left has branded conservative opposition to the Democratic agenda as irrational, unstable, and possibly insane. But it’s the conservative revival that will help restore stability by stopping or moderating the most irrational and radical elements of President Obama’s policy program.
Two years ago, liberal pundits predicted that Obama’s election had launched an era of Democratic ascendance and Republican decline. James Carville wrote a book in 2009 entitled “40 More Years: How the Democrats Will Rule the Next Generation.”
But as retiring Democratic Senator Evan Bayh admitted in a New York Times op-ed on Election Day, “It is clear that Democrats over-interpreted our mandate. Talk of a ‘political realignment’ and a ‘new progressive era’ proved to be wishful thinking.”
The liberal media’s belittling of conservatives as unserious and unstable is a case of the pot calling the Tea Party kettle black. As George Neumayr has pointed out, “the Democratic Party is now led in large part by comics.” Jon Stewart is the most respected liberal in the country, according to a recent poll. “Stephen Colbert testified before Pelosi’s Congress as an honored guest; SNL alumnus Al Franken sits in the Senate; comedienne Joy Behar vets presidential candidates on The View; and Bill Maher is treated like Mark Twain,” Neumayr continues.
Congressional liberals will lament the loss of their most extreme members, but the likelihood of sound and sensible policymaking will only increase with the forced retirements of Alan Grayson and Russ Feingold, among others, and with the termination of Nancy Pelosi’s speakership.
President Obama attributes his “shellacking” to fear-based irrationality. But the electorate has acted very rationally. All five of Obama’s major legislative efforts—Obamacare, the administration of TARP, cap-and tax, the auto union bailout, and the stimulus—were extremely unpopular among most Americans. It was only reasonable for them to vote against those who produced these laws.
Even now Obama and his allies can’t come to terms with the electorate’s rejection of their agenda. “What it is about Obama that provokes and sustains all this Tea Party ire[?]” wondered Eugene Robinson in his Washington Post column on Election Day. “The answer is pretty obvious: he’s black.” (Mr. Robinson has yet to weigh in on the election of numerous black and Hispanic Republicans this year.)
But this election had nothing to do with Obama’s race or rumors that he is a Kenyan nationalist– and everything to do with his being a Keynesian extremist.
Obama shouldn’t be so hard on fear-based voting. His very election was fueled by fear-based irrationality over the economic meltdown, after which Obama never again trailed in the polls. Americans elected the least vetted, least known, and least experienced major candidate in American history—and gave him carte blanche to enact his agenda with large majorities in both houses of Congress.
That was before persistent 10-percent unemployment, and spending that has put us on course, as Sen. Judd Gregg said this week, to become a bankrupt state on a par with Greece.
It was before the President began projecting weakness abroad and authoritarian tendencies at home. It was before Obama settled upon an irrational Afghanistan policy that places thousands more American troops in harm’s way while telling our enemy when we will retreat.
And it was before Obama showed that he’d rather treat his political adversaries as enemies, and the truly unstable and insane—Ahmadinejad, Kim, Castro, Chavez—as friends and partners.
Will he moderate? It’s hard to believe that he will. Liberals believe Election Day was an indictment not of liberalism but of Obama’s restraint. When Obama appeared on Jon Stewart’s show recently, the host told the President that his agenda “has felt timid at times.”
In a post-election press conference, Obama suggested that the only change he would agree to on Obamacare was to speed up its implementation. The Democratic caucus is now more liberal, having lost half of its Blue Dog members. And Democratic strategists are suggesting that the Democrats’ messaging, not their policies, needs to be overhauled.
The Democrats show no sign of changing course. Their refusal to listen even to America’s Election Day explosion bodes well for Republicans as they look ahead to 2012.
A definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result. If the Democrats continue to push irrational and unpopular policies, and to blame racism and ignorance when the public rejects them, they can expect similar results at the ballot box for years to come.