As might be expected, there’s a lot rethinking under way among conservatives in the wake of Tuesday night. Before the election, for example, I ran a sampling of headlines from National Review’s website, each of them supremely confident in a Romney victory, nay landslide.
As of last night, the terrain has changed:
Our Terrifying Message
People are afraid of the GOP
Why Hispanics Don’t Vote GOP
The “social issues” Hispanic voter is a mirage
Sifting Through the Wreckage
A grim four years lie ahead
The numbers beat the numbers guy
Jay Nordlinger presents his apparently quadrennial notes
How Romney Lost
The bad news: Class warfare works
Under the first headline, about the terrifying GOP, we find this:
“… each of Obama’s core constituencies (single women, African-Americans, and Latinos) is seriously — and disproportionately — economically disadvantaged compared to the classic paradigm of the white, college-educated Republican voter. The rates of poverty and near-poverty among these groups are much greater, thus causing a critical mass of both populations to suffer — even if they’re technically middle class — from a greater degree of economic insecurity. Even as Mitt won the votes of those who make over $50,000 by nine points, Obama won those who make less by a whopping 22 points — enough to give him the victory.
Second, while classic identity-group issues like abortion, affirmative action, and immigration undoubtedly matter, conservatives are deluding themselves if they think they can simply take those issues off the table and then compete on equal terms for this slice of voters. In fact, economically insecure voters can even agree with conservatives on social issues yet will still consistently pull the lever for statist candidates. Ideologically and historically they are pre-disposed towards statism as the means of alleviating economic insecurity and distress. In other words, for the single mom, “Julia” is an appealing paradigm — because at least someone is taking care of her family. (If I hear one more time that Latinos are social conservatives ready to support Republicans if only we could pass comprehensive immigration reform, I might throw something).”
As an initial diagnosis of the problem, I think that’s somewhat accurate. Economic insecurity is a serious and growing issue for millions of Americans, driven in part by a changing global economy and by a system that concentrates more and more wealth at the top. French is wrong to limit that to minority voters, however. The successful government bailout of the auto industry, alleviating economic security for a million or more workers, helped the Obama ticket immensely among white voters in states such as Ohio, Michigan and Wisconsin. A lot of GOP voters also feel that insecurity, but for the moment the party has managed to convince them that the cause of that insecurity is government.
Within this new economic order — which is quite altered from the system that many of us knew growing up — individuals still can and do earn great success. But the system itself has changed in ways that permit fewer and fewer people to make that journey. That’s just a fact, and the causes driving that change are economic and technological in nature, not political.
(The cause is also not moral in nature. Those on the left who attribute these changes to amorality among the rich are just as wrong as those on the right who attribute it to amorality among the poor. Both rich and poor are merely responding rationally to the system in which they operate.)
And the recommended solution by David French?
“We simply can’t retreat into our large but still-minority cocoon of new media and talk only to each other, working hard to get ever-larger numbers of our shrinking constituencies to the polls. Our cultural efforts have to be every bit as wide-ranging and persistent as those of the Left. Majority ideologies are built over generations, not overnight, and it means breaking the public-school monopoly, influencing public schools even while we work to diminish their influence, sending our best and brightest young writers and actors into the lion’s den of Hollywood, working to reform higher education and breaking the ideological hammerlock of the hard Left on faculties, and working hard — very hard — to tell the true story of conservative compassion for the “least of these,” a story featuring the efficiency and creativity of private philanthropy combined with Christ-centered love and concern for the individual.”
The admission about public schools is interesting, confirming my belief that Georgia’s Amendment One is a Trojan horse, and that those Democrats who supported its passage will one day come to rue that decision. Overall, however, let’s just say the scope of the solution falls romantically short of the scale of the problem.
– Jay Bookman