Take it from me, one of the worst ways to greet the day after an election defeat of this magnitude is to be the lone conservative guest on an NPR radio show featuring exultant liberals from CNN, The Nation, and elsewhere who cheerfully declare that yesterday’s election results represent the dawn of a “new America” — a place where white males are over, and women and minorities justly rule. (You can listen tonight, if you’re a masochist — On Point.)
There are clearly some on our side who fear that this is true — at least the part about the death of the old America. I cannot in truth say that I’m not one of them. But it’s too soon for such a comprehensive (and dire) verdict.
As others have said, we will have a great deal of self-examination to come. We’ll have to think about how we can reform education in America, about how to appeal to women voters, and about whether the idea of basic self-reliance is possible any longer in the era of the welfare state.
For now, before drawing larger conclusions, I think the roots of yesterday’s loss are to be found in a few places: 1) Our failure to argue persuasively enough that the financial crisis was not caused by private greed but by public irresponsibility; 2) the failure to respond aggressively to Obama’s argument that reducing government means pushing the vulnerable out into the snow; 3) failure to show that Obama’s policies — specifically Obamacare and Dodd/Frank — and not a hangover from the Bush years — were responsible for the limping economy; and 4) as I’ve been arguing for many years — the Republican party’s unfortunate tone regarding immigration which gave Hispanic voters the sense that we are hostile. Obama increased his share of the Hispanic vote by eight points over 2008. This helped him win Florida, Colorado, Nevada, and New Mexico.