Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Wishful Thinking II

The WP's Reasonable E.J. Dionne Jr. salivates over the new "Real America." According to him, Moderates and liberals now represent the mainstream of American thinking thanks to the 2006 election. Take a closer look:

In 1984 three exit polls pegged Ronald Reagan's share of the ballots cast by Americans under 30 at between 57 and 60 percent. Reagan-style conservatism seemed fresh, optimistic and innovative. In 2006 voters under 30 gave 60 percent of their votes to Democratic House candidates, according to the shared media exit poll. Conservatism now looks old, tired and ineffectual.

When the right seemed headed to dominance in the early 1990s, the hot political media trend was talk radio and the star was Rush Limbaugh, a smart entrepreneur who spawned imitators around the country and all across the AM dial.

Now the chic medium is televised political comedy and the cool commentators are Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert. Their brilliant ridicule of the Bush administration and conservative bloviators satisfies a political craving at least as great as the one Limbaugh once fed. Stewart and Colbert speak especially to young Americans who rely on their sensible take on the madness that surrounds us. The young helped drive their popularity, and the Droll Duo in turn shaped a new, anti-conservative skepticism.

It wasn't all that long ago that Democrats and liberals were said to be out of touch with "the real America," which was defined as encompassing the states that voted for President Bush in 2004, including the entire South. Democrats seemed to accept this definition of reality, and they struggled -- often looking ridiculous in the process -- to become fluent in NASCAR talk and to discuss religion with the inflections of a white Southern evangelicalism foreign to so many of them.

Now the conventional wisdom sees Republicans in danger of becoming merely a Southern regional party. Isn't it amazing how quickly the supposedly "real America" was transformed into a besieged conservative enclave out of touch with the rest of the country? Now religious moderates and liberals are speaking in their own tongues, and the free-thinking, down-to-earth citizens in the Rocky Mountain states are, in large numbers, fed up with right-wing ideology.

Oh, yes. The election of Blue Dog Democrats obviously indicates that Liberalism is the new chic inside the Beltway. And master satirist Stephen Colbert clearly skewers only conservative sacred cows. Right.

Americans cast out Republicans from control of Congress because Republicans in Congress had acted remarkably like their Democratic predecessors. They rolled in Pork. They covered their rears. They did not take care of the people's business. In other words, they did not fulfill their mandate from conservative voters.

If Mr. Dionne wants to see the political trump card in US politics, he doesn't have far too look. He just has to look beyond party affiliation. Independents are the trump card every year. This year, independents lost confidence in a Republican-controlled Congress that appeared more about self-preservation and power-grabbing than about effective governance. He ought to consider that as the Democratic Leadership-to-be prepares to assume business-as-usual.

If he doesn't, he risks shaking his head as yet another "Real America" emerges--one not so amenable to his Reasonable tastes.