Jonah Goldberg writes a lively column in today’s USA Today in which he suggests that the coming ascension of the Democrat Party to the summit of their power will be fraught with difficulties . . . for them. Essentially, their problem is similar to the one that confronted Republicans during the last eight years: they haven’t really persuaded the American people of anything. Republicans used the "conservative" brand, Jonah writes wittily, "like a cheap rented car." It was a good vehicle to get them where they wanted to go but, once they got there, they decided that really liked their limousines. Convincing people to admire their solid, but much less cushy, rental was too much work. Democrats will have a similar problem. Yes, they’ve got a mandate of sorts. But, beyond fixing the economy (and can any political party really do that?), what exactly is that mandate? Depends on who you ask.
Most Democrat talking-heads believe that this mandate is for one or another form of Liberalism--although even this is offered in varying degrees by various pundits. But I wonder: Do the majority of American voters really see it this way? My guess is that they do not and, if Democrats really want to stay in power, they’ve got a whole lot of persuading to do (which is a very different thing than what either party tends to do in elections--and certainly different from what they did in this last one). The American electorate remains fairly divided, I think, less out of actual polarization than out of simple confusion about the purposes and the possibilities and limits of free government.
Obama once seemed poised to move in and settle this debate--at least for all practical purposes--by winning it. And, though I believe that this remains his lofty ambition, I am less and less persuaded that he will be able to do it. As Jonah ably demonstrates in this article, there are just as many jackasses as there are elephants who thoroughly enjoy their limo rides.