On the last point, many of us would challenge Kazin. Conservatives may have won political power, but in the culture at large, the ideology that flourishes is that of Kazin and many to the far left of him. He travails in the gardens of academia, and he knows that — since he himself has written one of the most devastating critiques of the influence of the late Howard Zinn — the ideology that flourishes there and exists as well among most of our nation’s top journalists is that of Nation magazine-style leftism.
The truth is, that the electoral landscape has changed drastically, and scores of registered Democrats are now declaring themselves as independents, and the president’s chances to win in swing states is lower than ever. That is why readers should turn to the very brilliant article by historian Paul Rahe of Hillsdale College that appears at Ricochet.com. Rahe, like Fred Siegel, compares Obama to the mayor of New York City in the 1970s, the late John Lindsay. After a masterful analysis of why the elites like Obama and the white-working class does not, Rahe offers the following conclusion:
I nonetheless think that the Republicans are likely to win. The John Lindsay coalition is an exceedingly fragile one. One might even say that it is apt to self-destruct. The material interests of upscale voters and those of Americans dependent on government largesse do not coincide, and in a time of straitened circumstances and widespread unemployment the tensions between those who pay the bulk of the taxes collected and those on the take are apt to be extreme. How many upscale voters want to see their taxes dramatically increased in the near future? It may not be bread alone that determines voting patterns in the US, but during economic downturns such concerns loom especially large. I could easily imagine a new coalition taking shape – one that unites upscale voters, working stiffs, and small businessmen against public-sector workers and those who live off government patronage. Such a coalition, forged in a time of suffering, might last a very long time, and, if it did, the number of public-sector workers and of those living off government patronage would steadily decline.
To this analysis, we can add one more item. Barack Obama has done for the United States what John Lindsay did for the city of New York. He has brought us to the edge of bankruptcy, and he has made us look into the abyss – and he has compounded the problem by saddling us with Obamacare, which grows less popular with time. Moreover, one cannot say with regard to the administration that brought us the Fast and Furious and Solyndra scandals that it has not been “incompetent or foolish or corrupt.” One can say, however, that it has been “actively destructive.”
The 2012 election, no matter which candidate wins the Republican primaries, will be a hard fight. Rahe’s analysis shows that it is a race that the Republicans can and should win — but only, I caution, if a candidate emerges who radiates caution, responsibility, and shows presidential decorum. Let us hope that the Republicans do not blow it.