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November 08, 2012 10:07 AM Conservative Reaction To Election ‘12, Part I: Despair Not Denial

By Ed Kilgore

By and large, I’ve been surprised by the relative docility with which conservative voices have accepted their defeat on Tuesday. Once the deal went down, there was relatively little talk about “voter fraud” or stolen elections. Karl Rove’s meltdown on Fox over its call of Ohio (and the presidency) for Obama was probably the most visible sign of disbelief at the actual results, which were, after all, showing up Rove himself as a gigantic failure. Yes, Donald Trump raved on Twitter about the need for a “revolution” and people marching on Washington, but as always, he spoke only for himself.

There was, however, a lot of talk, not among pols and conventional Republicans, but in the conservative ideological commentariat, about America’s choice of a second term for Barack Obama reflecting a systemic corruption of public morals and institutions that has made the election of a conservative president very difficult if not impossible.

Here’s Jay Nordlinger at National Review:

The voters had a clear choice. Each presidential nominee was a good — very good — representative of his point of view. The voters had plenty of information, no matter how biased the media are. They had plenty of good, solid information. Conventions, debates, etc.
And they chose.
The Left is winning, in more than the electoral sense. The Left is winning culturally — psychologically, spiritually, if you will. They control education, the entertainment industry … need I give the whole list?

Here’s Mike Flynn at Breitbart.com:

Andrew always pointed out that politics was far downstream from media and pop culture. By ceding the media and pop culture space, conservatives were always at an extreme disadvantage whenever a specific political debate arose. They could occasionally win certain battles, but they would always be fighting against extreme headwinds. Last night was a brutal reminder that Andrew was right.

Here’s John Hinderaker at PowerLine:

To me, the most telling incident of the campaign season was a poll that found that among young Americans, socialism enjoys a higher favorability rating than free enterprise. How can this possibly be, given the catastrophic failure of socialism, and the corresponding success of free enterprise, throughout history? The answer is that conservatives have entirely lost control over the culture. The educational system, the entertainment industry, the news media and every cultural institution that comes to mind are all dedicated to turning out liberals. To an appalling degree, they have succeeded. Historical illiteracy is just one consequence. Unless conservatives somehow succeed in regaining parity or better in the culture, the drift toward statism will inevitably continue, even if Republicans win the occasional election.

There’s a lot more talk just like that out there, and in a way it’s just as corrosive of any real rethinking of conservative ideology or Republican policies as denial that adverse election results are legitimately occurring. How could the Mitt Romney campaign, or the Republican Party as a whole, or the conservative movement and its Tea Party shock troops in particularly, have produced a different result if a majority of the American people have been trained since childhood to become vassals of the all-powerful state and enemies of free enterprise and religion? The problem isn’t with conservatives; it’s with America!

As we have seen throughout history, cultural despair can lead to quiescence—to the withdrawal from politics and the building of counter-cultural institutions—or to hyper-activism—to the building of self-consiously counter-revolutionary political movements that exhibit contempt for democracy and treat opponents as enemies on an almost existential level. Maybe the kind of stuff I quoted above just reflects an emotional hangover from an election conservatives convinced themselves they were going to win. But it’s hardly new; much of the Tea Party Movement and its “constitutional conservative” ideology has involved a strange sort of anti-Americanism cloaked in super-patriotism. It wouldn’t be surprising if the same people reacted to the re-election of Barack Obama by taking their hostility to America as it is to another level.

Ed Kilgore is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly. He is managing editor for The Democratic Strategist and a senior fellow at the Progressive Policy Institute. Find him on Twitter: @ed_kilgore.

Comments

  • Wapiti on November 08, 2012 10:24 AM:

    My family was very worried that Romney would win. When we gathered at my sister's house to watch the results, I was the calming voice every time a state went "red".

    Now that it's over, and people are talking about Obama's victory, and how it shows this or that... Now I'm a boggled that 48% of the country voted for the guy whose primary goal seemed to be to reduce his taxes even lower. Yeah, the floor is probably 27%, but the Democrat' challenge is to chip more people from the America's crazy pile.

  • jpeckjr on November 08, 2012 10:27 AM:

    I think they are mostly shocked, shocked to have misinterpreted so badly God's will for America. Or maybe it's all part of their conviction that God is withdrawing his blessing / punishing America because of all sorts of things.

    The people you quoted may not have said that. Some preacher will on Sunday, I'm sure. I think it underlies the anguish of many conservatives. Even those who won their race believe God is withdrawing / punishing because if he wasn't, all the Dems / liberals would have died before election day.

    There's no more convincing proof that God is on your side than the death of your enemy.

  • Josef K on November 08, 2012 10:29 AM:

    There was, however, a lot of talk, not among pols and conventional Republicans, but in the conservative ideological commentariat, about America’s choice of a second term for Barack Obama reflecting a systemic corruption of public morals and institutions that has made the election of a conservative president very difficult if not impossible.

    Bolding mine. And these same commentariat won't think to look in a mirror and wonder "hmm, why doesn't everyone who doesn't look like me think like me?" For all their screaming against collectivism and such, they certainly seem ready to have everyone become drones to their movement.

  • T2 on November 08, 2012 10:29 AM:

    we all know these people - old friends, relatives, co-workers who used to be relatively normal and about the time Bill Clinton got caught with his pants down in the Oval Office all of a sudden began to watch FOX News. By the time 9/11 happened, every Oil Change waiting room in America, every waiting room at the Dentist, they were all tuned to FOX. And those old friends and relatives ate up every word of hate coming from those "journalists". Then we elected a black guy and suddenly FOX is telling them that the nation has been taken over by a Muslim President, and they got crazy. And they finally got so crazy that their reality was told to them every day, all day, by FOX and it became their world. And they got so crazy that on Tuesday, most of the nation said "STOP that crazy shit". They probably won't.

  • Gandalf on November 08, 2012 10:33 AM:

    First those people were in a bubble to begin with. When the reality of the election results blew their bubble up they are in denial. That's going to take some time for them to recover from.

  • Ronald on November 08, 2012 10:34 AM:

    I disagree with your premise, Ed- this sort of talk _is_ denial.

    Everything I've read so far yesterday and today points to the same things from the Right:
    "It wasn't our ideas that were the problem, it was X"
    (where X is: media, education system, hollywood, etc).

    To a person (almost) they're all saying that 'If Americans got the 'real word' on what Republicans represented, Romney would have won in the landslide we all predicted'
    ergo, in their minds, it must mean that their ideas didn't penetrate (or, specifically, weren't allowed to penetrate) through to Americans, not that their ideas may have been wrong to being with.

    It wasn't that American's see 'trickle-down' as a bad idea, but rather that Socialism is being taught in schools.
    It wasn't that American's see that there is a 'War on Women' (a left-wing media construct in their minds), it is Hollywood and Pop Culture have overwhelmed the discussion.

    Etc. I could go on, but many of y'all have read the same things from the same people.

    It is denial. Despair, certainly, from some corners, but those are from the scant few who were already disenfranchised from the current Right Wing anyways- the moderates who say things like 'Republicans have to reach out to minorities' and the like are being seen as, still, heretical. Romney is still seen as being 'too moderate'.

    Grover 'Sign this' Norquist thinks that a historic re-election, a gain in Democratic seats in the Senate and house is simply 'statis quo'.

    It is delusion on the level on Don Quixote- tilting at windmills of reality that, to them, seem like giants of Evil.

    In none of those three segments you quoted, and in very very few of the analysis I've seen from the Right do you see any sort of recognition that maybe, just maybe, America has grown culturally and spiritually past where the right wing thinks it should be and that the ideas of those on the right just don't work in a modern, technologically advanced society.

  • nerd on November 08, 2012 10:42 AM:

    What I find most disturbing about the campaign Romney ran was not the neo-conservative theme of "It's mine, you can't have it", but the blatant dishonesty.

    He misrepresented himself by constantly changing what he said he stood for. He constantly misrepresented what Obama has done and said. But still he got almost half the vote. Forget the conservative navel gazing, what does it say when a pathological liar gets that close to being president?

  • Kathryn on November 08, 2012 10:45 AM:

    @jpeckjr.....Franklin Graham has so threatened, see Maddow Blog for link. Good synopsis T2, more troubling is the fact that FOX cannot be avoided in the lunch rooms at McDill AFB, home of Centcom my liberal son, who works there, tells me.

  • T2 on November 08, 2012 10:46 AM:

    Nobody seems to be asking a simple question: Can you run a campaign based on repeatedly lying about the issues and win? Will at least half of the voters say "hummm, that guy is a liar, I'm not voting for him"? It appears that lying is not a winning strategy anymore. And that will be a problem for the GOP, since clear explanations of their policies don't go over too well.

  • Daryl Cobranchi on November 08, 2012 10:47 AM:

    "How can this possibly be, given the catastrophic failure of socialism, and the corresponding success of free enterprise, throughout history?"

    Is Hinderaker really that obtuse? For the last four years, he and his ilk have told the young that Obama is a socialist. They like Obama and 60% of them voted for him on Tuesday. Add in the fact that they probably remember all the way back to 2008 and what the unrestricted "free enterprise" system did to them and their families, and it's a wonder that the whole generation isn't singing "The Internationale."

  • Rick B on November 08, 2012 10:49 AM:

    Look at what Nordlinger said: "The Left is winning culturally — psychologically, spiritually, if you will. They control education, the entertainment industry … need I give the whole list?"

    This is typical. They see the problem as being that the liberals are winning the propaganda game.

    I don't see that. I see the liberals as recognizing that modern U.S. society is in reality sharply different from the image the conservatives have. America is no longer a small-town dominated by a white upper class which owns most of the economy. In fact, ownership of the factories is no longer the most important social position. In 1940 over half the U.S. population lived on farms, most of which were not yet electrified. And the most popular movies were mostly westerns about the frontier. The conservatives see that as being America. It's not.

    What matters today is that most Americans live in big cities which require social equality and social mobility and which are not controlled by the local pastors. Instead of owning factories, the most important people have a lot of education and the data available to use it (Internet especially.)

    There are even more and greater changes. The Democrats are reacting to the changed situation. The conservatives are glorifying a dead past and think that the 'liberals" are somehow winning the propaganda war with education and the entertainment industry.

    Every move America makes to enter the 21st century is a threat to the conservative fantasy. Look at those quotes above and ask which ones reflect modern society as opposed to the conservative fantasy America.

    Government is the threat because it does not depend on ownership of the farms and land. It instead coordinates modern education and communication networks. Government created the Internet, remember? DARPA?

  • thalarctos on November 08, 2012 10:51 AM:

    What Hindraker doesn't get is that for most Americans under 30, Communism is something they read about in the history books, and no longer the big Stalinist Bogeyman. What they see about capitalism is thirty years of stagnating salaries for the 99%, and the banksters sipping Champagne through an economic crisis that devastated most working Americans.

    No amount of preaching is going to change that.

  • hornblower on November 08, 2012 10:56 AM:

    Amazing that you can live in today's American and never meet anyone who disagrees with you. What kind of bubble must you live in to really be surprised at the result of the election?.

  • Mimikatz on November 08, 2012 10:59 AM:

    Maybe if you constantly tell young people that a centrist President they regard as cool is really a "socialist" they will begin to like "socialism" instead of fearing Obama.

    The GOP is nuts if they think some mythical Left has control of the culture. The media is the triumph of the capitalist, profit-seeking motive, and if it shows more integrated social groups and happy gay people maybe it is because they have determined that people like seeing a world like that and it sells. Fox News gets the share it gets because some people like that (and note Fox non-news program is, if anything, more crass and vulgar than the rest of TV), but they are not and never will be a majority. Until the GOP learns that, they won't win national races.

    And y'all stop talking about women as a "minority" group. Women are the majority of voters (54%-46%), the majority of the work force, the majority of college graduates, and hold the majority of managerial positions. And we do not believe that men know what is best for us. Get with the times, guys or you will be left farther behind.

  • hells littlest angel on November 08, 2012 11:00 AM:

    Tuesday was the greatest national betrayal since the German people failed to die for their fuehrer.

  • jrosen on November 08, 2012 11:01 AM:

    What we see here and now has been gathering for a long time (and has historical antecedents that go back a very long time): the raw material for a very American form of fascism. We dodged a very big bullet when the Great Recession did not turn into the Great Depression Part II. A major military defeat plus a tradition of superiority and victimhood (simultaneously!) plus an economic catastrophe (with a little help from the Stalinists) enabled the Nazis to take over the most cultured, advanced and (yes!) least antisemitic nation in Europe. And the Nazis never had an electoral majority and didn't even bother to rewrite the Constitution under which, using emergency powers, they ruled and ruined for 12 years.

    Of course, analogies, and especially historical analogies, are of limited use, since no situations are ever repeated exactly. But the underlying humanity, for better or worse, is the same and similar stresses can lead to similar reactions.

    The rabid right has been wounded --- but a wounded beast is all the more dangerous --- so let's not let our elation turn into euphoria, not, as some on the Left have done, think that this election will solve problems that have been festering for generations, and that the reactionaries (not conservatives) have folded their tents and stolen away into the endless night.

  • del on November 08, 2012 11:05 AM:

    I agree with thalarctos, it has been the result of stangnating salaries and ability to get full employment as the wealth continues to trickle up. They feel that changing how they present their message, and not their actions, is what will get people to come to their way of thinking. People respond to actions, not words, as we have seen, you can change your words but if you are doing the same as you always have then we know and see the real you. They want an illiterate population that does not analyze their acts and make decisions based on those facts.

  • SecularAnimist on November 08, 2012 11:06 AM:

    Why obsess about what "conservatives" are saying rather than focusing on what progressives, like journalist John Nichols are saying:

    Overwhelming Obama Victory Not Just a Mandate for the President, but for Progressives

    Forget the "conservatives" The "conservatives" lost. The voters got a real good look at Paul Ryan's plan, and a real good look at Obama's plan, and they soundly rejected Ryan and embraced Obama, with a bigger margin of victory than Kennedy in 1960, Nixon in 1968, Carter in 1976 or Bush in 2000.

    Progressives have a mandate. Let's use it. Let's break the habit of whining about the "conservatives" and get busy pushing the pragmatic centrist, Obama, to deliver on the progressive agenda and values that the American people voted for in overwhelming numbers.

    The American people are counting on us.


  • berttheclock on November 08, 2012 11:07 AM:

    Even in liberal Portland, Oregon, it is hard to find trying to work out in various workout centers without having FAUX "News" up on the TVs.

    However, this AM, I stumbled across some funny stuff on an article from Daily Caller. I had googled Jim Messina and David Plouffe, when, I noticed an article written in September by Neil Munro for DC calling Messina and Axelrod spin machines for saying the President was moving up. Some of the most vicious comments from the right on that article. But, the funny part was their collective belief in the polls conducted by Rasmussen. Yes, indeed, right wingers how is Mr Rasmussen and Dick Morris, this AM?

  • Mad_nVt on November 08, 2012 11:20 AM:

    Great column and great string of thoughtful comments.

    But Ed's column title? Conservatives are suffering from both Despair and Denial. Also Delusion.

    Conservatives haven't yet realized that the Left is winning on Values:
    - civil rights, for women and gay people;
    - adequate health care as a right;
    - honesty, trust.

    - "Valuing Community" if that can be considered a value, the community that is all of us in this thing together.

    - "Valuing Reality" if that can be a value, which it probably should be- the Reality that is the immigrants that live among us, the global climate change that is blighting our future.

    Hey, that's where the future is, and the conservatives can't see that.

  • Perspecticus on November 08, 2012 11:20 AM:

    My favorite part about the BreitBrats is they never seem to begin a post with an original thought. Every posting seems to begin from some point or another created by their creator.

  • citizen_pain on November 08, 2012 11:24 AM:

    I'm so sick of this free enterprise garbage. The republican idea of free enterprise means allowing business to be free to exploit and extort consumers.

    Their economic philosophy of 'free enterprise' is no closer to real capitalism than communism is.


  • boatboy_srq on November 08, 2012 11:24 AM:

    @Daryl Cobranchi:

    YES. Yes, he is.

    And he's not the only one.

    Do these people really not recognize that nearly everything they have denounced as "socialist" for the past four years is a product of their own think tanks and policies? That it originated on their side of the aisle? This is almost as bad as the "Obama cuts to defense spending" - that they offered as the goad to encourage a negotiated budget.

    I'm beginning to wonder whether Conservatist philosophy requires a) ADHD and b) at least some degree of memory loss.

    As for the "denial v. despair" metric: I spent the evening with a bunch of die-hard Reichwingers. They're prepping for the Econopocalypse, and starting the "just you wait a year, and you'll see we were right" doomsaying. I think we heard this particular refrain before (in 2008, in 1996, in 1992 - maybe even in 1936 and 1932). Their track record on this forecast isn't all that good.

  • simulated annealing on November 08, 2012 11:27 AM:

    I feel somewhat sympathetic because I remember feeling just like this when Bush beat Kerry in 04. As in "Really, how could 51% of the country still feel this is a good idea?"

    My gut - just tea leaves and instinct, sorry, no data - is that religious conservatives have already been withdrawing from the height of political activism of the 90s & 00s. They really can live their in their own communities that ratify their morality in a more local sense. I think the right wing institution building will continue more through the alliance of billionaire money and Randian libertarians.

  • Josef K on November 08, 2012 11:29 AM:

    I've half a mind to leave a comment at Powerline. But only the reptile-half.

  • CT on November 08, 2012 11:32 AM:

    It's interesting that the commentators listed above identified the entertainment industry as a culprit in influencing public attitudes in favor of "liberal values."

    Here's a question: Did Brokeback Mountain and Will & Grace change our attitudes regarding gay people (notice how quickly it happened), or have the younger generation (who are simply more progressive about such things) finally showed up to take charge?

    Discuss.

  • James E. Powell on November 08, 2012 11:43 AM:

    Even though I know that the right-wingers live in a bubble of FOX, Rush, and their lesser imitators, even though I knew that people become so attached to their beliefs that they disregard contrary information, I am still surprised by the depth and breadth of the right-wing denial. And the hysteria, really the hysteria. America died? What the hell?

  • emjayay on November 08, 2012 11:43 AM:

    From dictionary.com

    socialism

    A theory or system of social organization that advocates the vesting of the ownership and control of the means of production and distribution, of capital, land, etc., in the community as a whole.

    So what is this socialism that "enjoys a higher favorability rating than free enterprise" even "given the catastrophic failure of socialism, and the corresponding success of free enterprise, throughout history?" We don't seem to have stte owned production or distribution, and neither does Europe these days. Maybe the French government still owns a piece of Renault or something, but that's about it.

    So what are they talking about? Terrible failures like Social Security? Horrors like Medicare? Unemployment insurance? SNAP? Tax supported schools and universities? Fire departments? Public libraries? State and national parks? City parks? Roads and bridges? Hoover dam? California State Water Project? Anything any government does other than cops and armies?

  • beejeez on November 08, 2012 11:44 AM:

    Even Rush Limbaugh has jumped on the most-Americans-are-lost-to-the-dark-side meme, too. I couldn't be happier. Nobody expects conservatives to give up their cause; they may even redouble their intensity. But when even their most vociferous pundits for the first time, with the microphone on, are acknowledging that they are a minority -- well, you can rally outnumbered troops only so long. You have to start working on the terms of your surrender before your heads are hung on pikes.

    Even the GOP hold on the House is now a technicality: Democratic candidates got more votes than Republican candidates. Republicans are clinging to power only by their ability to gerrymander away a Democratic majority.

    Ever since Reagan was first elected, I've been ruthless about restraining my optimism, and usually I'm very successful. But I can't help feeling that this might be the election that finally breaks wingnut fever for good. Americans will get the full health care package, almost all the soldiers will be home, and pressure's building to crush the last of the W legacies: a right-wing court, a destructive tax system, drones and security overreach. I wouldn't be surprised if by 2020 single-payer will start looking like a political winner.

    The prez says it'll be a bitch of a struggle but our best days are ahead. He may be wrong about the latter, but I wouldn't bet against it.

  • DrBB on November 08, 2012 11:48 AM:

    Yes, conservatism did not fail America; America failed conservatism. Hope they trek on with that right into oblivion. But meanwhile: "a poll that found that among young Americans, socialism enjoys a higher favorability rating than free enterprise." Right. What poll exactly, and how worded, Mr Hindscratcher? Cuz I note you tellingly fail to provide a link, something the intertoobz are particularly handy for. Methinks you're still lying to yourself, never a good strategy for winning at anything.

  • Al B Tross on November 08, 2012 11:51 AM:

    We are dealing with Authoritarians here, plain and simple.
    As you mentioned in this piece, they seek power for powers sake, cannot see themselves as out of touch, see all opposition to their ideology as hostile, scapegoating any and all that stand up to them.

    And you are correct, these folk are not going away, and we will see act of violence in the name of conservatism by their submissive, yet eager followers.

    http://home.cc.umanitoba.ca/~altemey/

    to quote the preface of this empirical study.....This book was written in 2006, halfway through George W. Bush’s second term as president. A great deal was wrong with America then, and I thought the research on authoritarian personalities could explain a lot of it. Since then a new administration has been elected, and although it has had to deal with a very serious economic crisis brought on by others, it is taking steps to correct some of what is wrong.

    However, the forces that largely caused the problems have remained on the scene, and are more active today than ever before. As I try to show in the “Comment on the Tea Party Movement” (link to the left), the research findings in this book apply at least as strongly to America today as they did four years ago. Indeed, the events of 2009 and 2010 have confirmed conclusion after conclusion in The Authoritarians. I wrote in 2006 that the authoritarians in America were not going to go away if they lost the 2008 election, that they would be infuriated if a new president tried to carry out his mandate. That has certainly been the case.

  • DrBB on November 08, 2012 11:56 AM:

    Mimikatz: Maybe if you constantly tell young people that a centrist President they regard as cool is really a "socialist" they will begin to like "socialism" instead of fearing Obama.

    ^^^^^^^^^^^^^

    Best comment I've read in a long while. We have a threadwinner!

  • latts on November 08, 2012 12:01 PM:

    Conservatives can't fathom that everyone else a) doesn't see them as the noble & righteous rugged individualists of their self-flattering reflections, and b) doesn't care to adopt that carefully-constructed identity themselves. It's become rather silly at best in a smaller, better-linked world, but conservatives first and foremost cast themselves as specific types of heroes before making everyone else the villians.

    I also laugh at the notion that entertainment strongly favors liberalism-- I'd love to see an Elmer Gantry or even some updated Jimmy Stewart storylines occasionally instead of another story of a wounded city dweller being forced back to his/her rural roots to learn about What Really Matters in Life (IME, the righties love that one, because they never notice the oppressiveness that makes their more lively kids want to leave in the first place). And we won't even get into the explosion-fests & ridiculous anti-heroes of the really top-earning movies.

  • Shane Taylor on November 08, 2012 12:06 PM:

    They would indict the country to acquit their cracked ideals. The obvious and simple system of natural liberty never failed us; we failed liberty.

  • sklein11 on November 08, 2012 1:29 PM:

    "a poll that found that among young Americans, socialism enjoys a higher favorability rating than free enterprise."

    I'm calling bullsh!t. Where's the poll and what were the questions?

  • Will G on November 08, 2012 1:34 PM:

    to Ed Kilgore: This and the other two articles on the Conservative Reaction are brilliant. They shine for journalistic accuracy, good reporting, intelligence, and humor. Save them, they are the beginning of book. Thank you.

  • TT on November 08, 2012 1:42 PM:

    These people despise America. Look at what they've spent the past two decades doing--and not only refusing to apologize for it, but glorying in it and claiming it as divine right.

  • Daryl Cobranchi on November 08, 2012 2:48 PM:

    I'm pretty sure this is the survey Hinderaker referenced.

    http://www.people-press.org/files/legacy-pdf/12-28-11%20Words%20release.pdf

  • emjayay on November 08, 2012 4:31 PM:

    Thanks Daryl. So, the survey was only asking for reactions to words. Reminds me of surveys about the ACA (Obamacare). Lots of people thought it sucked, then said they liked all the provisions of it they were asked about.

    Older right wingers hear "socialism" and they think Union of Soviet Socialist Republics = Communism = totalitarianism = no religion and everyone living a bleak gray life in the gray snow while chugging vodka. I hear "socialism" and I think of Sweden and Volvos and blonde people with blonde children happily going to modern high quality blonde wood furnished schools. And snow. But clean white snow.

  • Steve on November 08, 2012 5:06 PM:

    I've been saying for a while that a disturbingly large number of conservatives have difficulty hiding their contempt for Americans, and that contempt is not a good way to win over voters.

    What's astonishing to me is the number who see voters reject their cartoonish notions of the electorate and, instead of wondering if their view of reality is distorted, simply double down on the contempt.

    Can we *please* get a functional center-right party back? I don't want one-party rule, which is where we're headed if the GOP doesn't pull its head out of its kiester.

  • Peter Kadzis on November 08, 2012 6:18 PM:

    What the conservative commentators can't seem to grasp is that the voters looked upon both candidates and found Romney too conservative, too far right. Romney's etch-a-sketch moments came too late in a very long campaign to make a difference. In a large part, because the Obama campaign did such a thorough job very early on portraying Romney as the personification of economic Royalism, which he is. As far as a majority of the voters were concerned Romney was hard right, far right. The commentators who were surprised -- or outraged -- by the results on November 6 were in a bubble. And apparently still are. Everyone knew this would be a close election. The battle was for a relatively small swing cohort. I don't think Obama won this group so much as Romney lost them.

  • caegheorde on November 08, 2012 6:40 PM:

    Sir, I think you have not been paying attention.

    You say, "As we have seen throughout history, cultural despair can lead to...the building of self-consiously counter-revolutionary political movements that exhibit contempt for democracy and treat opponents as enemies on an almost existential level. ".

    You either don't have to live with them and/or don't read some of the commenters to your own writings. What's going to happen is that they to move BEYOND where they already are.

  • SocraticGadfly on November 08, 2012 6:42 PM:

    First, there's plenty of visible pop-cultural conservatives. Remember the guy speaking to the empty chair at the RNC? Or the bowhunter who threatened to go postal if Obama were re-elected?

    Oh, yeah, Eastwood and Nugent are both old white guys. Like a lot of people at the Romney parties.

    Well, when you deliberately work to disenfranchise minorities, go nutbar on women's sexuality, and refuse to accept how much the ground is shifting on lack of religious belief, as well as gay issues, in younger age groups, old white guys is what you have left.

  • Sparko on November 09, 2012 12:36 AM:

    They spent half a billion dollars and all they got was a tee shirt. And God Damnit I would rip that off their collective corpulent torso if I could.

    These people are despicable idiots, prone to violent and horrific excesses. We need to to keep the pressure on them till we squeeze them right out of their spray tans. To Hell with them. They are still trying to ruin the country and abuse its people. They deserve the bleakness of their immoral choices. It is a reflection of their black souls.