Wednesday, May 16, 2012
Obama's Liberal Trap
It is interesting to watch Obama commit political suicide. Why is he doing it? Hard to say. It feels good, no doubt, to achieve an apotheosis among the left. Obama, Narcissist in Chief, relishes this role. More to the point, perhaps, is that he doesn't know how to do anything else.
It will cost him the presidency.
Bill Clinton, flawed as he was, was the consummate political strategist. What did he do when his party got thumped in the midterms? He "triangulated" to the middle, and selectively compromised with Republicans on a few issues like welfare reform. It worked, and he was re-elected easily. Two years ago, when Democrats were again thumped, prognosticators all assumed that Obama would follow this playbook, and conventional wisdom was that this would ultimately seal the deal on his re-election.
But he went the other way, hard. Class warfare, gay marriage, vilifying oil companies - you know the drill. All this will help with fundraising and the fawning media, but it's a trap. Simple mathematics doom the strategy.
You see, while most observers obsess about the middle, it's really turnout they should be focusing on, specifically conservative turnout. Practically every election is decided by whether conservatives turn out to vote. Why? Because there are a lot of them. There are more conservatives than there are Republicans or Democrats, and there are, by a 2-1 margin, more conservatives than liberals. 40% of Americans are self-described conservatives. This is a fairly consistent number.
So, while appealing to the "base" can - and does - get Republicans elected, the same is most definitely NOT true for Democrats. At 20% of the electorate, there simply are not enough liberals to get anyone elected, particularly since they tend to undervote as well. For a Democrat to win, he must excite the base while at the same time firing up a huge chunk of independents. This is a tall order, and one Obama pulled off in '08 by pretending to be a "post-partisan" moderate. (It also didn't hurt that he had a weak opponent and a nicely timed financial crisis.)
The amazing thing is that it wouldn't have taken much on Obama's part to sail to re-election in November. He could have picked one thing, say embracing his own Simpson-Bowles commission, or even just a Sister Soulja moment, and re-election would have been his. But, the cat's out of the bag. He is a committed leftist, and, this time, he doesn't mind everyone knowing.
The election will not be close.