I have taken a lot of flak from you people over the last few months for being a "Nattering Nabob of Negativism." Turns out I was far too optimistic.
So before you crazy conservatives move into a new state of delusion (and while you are still loopy enough to accept advice from a cat) I'd like to slap you around a bit.
Here's what I see that you don't see:
Center-Right or Center-Left? Try None of the Above
This question was kicked around on the podcast and in the live chat. Ben Domenech posted it today. It will be kicked around for weeks. I say "STOP IT!"
This country has not moved leftward. It has moved inward. I would guess at least 80% of this country's population is disengaged from the world outside themselves. Republicans and Democrats. In political life and real life.
For these people, voting is like going to the dentist. It is something they do from time to time but forget about in between.
Therefore, Ideas Don't Matter
Think back over the last few months. How did Romney attack this election? He outlined the problems, offered a vision, and contrasted it with Obama's vision. How did Obama respond? "I've gone to your website and the numbers just don't add up." Check and mate.
Did they add up? Did they not add up? Doesn't matter. Nobody checks before they vote.
And It Wasn't Demographics And It Wasn't Organizing
And it wasn't the candidate. And it wasn't the message. And it wasn't the weather.
It is the Metanarrative, Stupid!
The metanarrative of American life during the last 20 years can be summed up as "Be Nice."
Everything everybody under 40 years old does every day is checked against "Is it nice?" Opposing gay marriage isn't nice. Throwing your Pepsi can in the wrong bin is just not nice. Voting against the first African-American president is definitely not nice. Your reasoning may be sound and pure and even totally correct but if it isn't also nice you lose.
So Here's The Thing
We can try to get a better read on the American population. Try to engage them. Adapt to changing demographics. Organize ourselves better. And choose better candidates.
Occasionally this will tip an election our way.
But if we want to win... and I mean win... we need to stop tinkering with our transistor radio. It will never sound like a Bose.
As I see it, there are 2 paths:
- Ride the "Be Nice" wave. Compassionate Conservatism. Make what we do fit the metanarrative. Portray what they do as opposing it.
- Change the metanarrative. Shake up the entire game. Make people check themselves against "Be Wary" or "Am I Getting Screwed?"
Any other path is a dead end.
Finally, I'm Incredibly Optimistic
In many ways, George W. Bush was his own worst enemy. And after 5-6 years we all got tired of defending him when he wasn't even defending himself.
Liberals are about to experience the same.... only worse.
Obama has not only proven a feckless leader of the nation, he's proven a feckless leader of his party. In 18 months he will be absolutely useless to the Democratic party. They'll chuck him like a day old bagel. He will receive 100% of the blame for all that is wrong. From all sides. Bill Clinton will fill the vacuum. There's no one else.
Barack Obama liberalism will look old and tired.
This is when we strike. This is when we win.
Assuming we're ready.