Conservatives must start by confronting the fact that the 2012 election was a historic victory for the American Left, probably its greatest since 1936. Unlike 1992, 1996 or (arguably) 2008, the Democratic national ticket did little if anything to obscure the nature and content of its agenda. It would be surprising if the Obama administration did not interpret its victory as a mandate to complete the Europeanizing of American government. Nor would it be surprising if in doing so the administration pays little attention to the Republican House, using judges and regulators to impose its will on subjects ranging from same-sex marriage in all 50 states to “green” curbing of the upsurge in U. S. production of fossil fuels through such methods as hydraulic fracturing.
Particularly galling for conservatives is the defeat of every Republican challenger for the U. S. Senate, coupled with apparent Democratic victories in 25 of a possible 33 races. Hanging on to the House by a slightly reduced margin will be small consolation to those who hoped for repeal of Obamacare and broad-based tax and entitlement reform.
Republicans have now lost four of the past six presidential elections and five of the past six in terms of the popular vote. This followed three landslide victories in era of Ronald Reagan that dominated the politics of the nation and the world from 1980 to 1988. If this isn’t the time to recreate an integrated, across-the-board conservative politics to counter the relentless and successful assault by a reinvigorated American Left, it is hard to imagine when such a time will come.
— Jeffrey Bell is policy director of the American Principles Project and author ofThe Case for Polarized Politics: Why America Needs Social Conservatism (Encounter Books, 2012).