Bill Murchison

"Barack Obama won because he recognized a new America." Or maybe an America more fluid, more insubstantial than post-election wisdom is ready to grant. You can't always tell about "new" -- a truth the human race rarely acknowledges.

We'll see whether James Carville's and Stan Greenberg's words from a Democracy Corps survey stand up better than the consensus of November 1965, following the Lyndon Johnson-led slaughter of almost every Republican downwind from Barry Goldwater. Johnson, father of the Great Society, was all but run out of Washington on a rail after mucking up the Vietnam War.

Meanwhile, as everyone these days seems to know, the unstoppable alliance of unmarried women, young people, Hispanics and Blacks is set to remake America: the minute Americans agree on what a remade America ought to look like.

"There's many a slip 'twixt the cup and the lip" is the indicated adage for now, notwithstanding that polls such as Carville's and Greenberg's seem to confirm the birth of a new alliance committed to wealth redistribution and big government.

The so-called "Rising American Electorate" appears to hanker for, among other things, larger investments in education, "protection" of Social Security and Medicare and fairness for women. Thomas B. Edsall, in the New York Times, calls attention to a Pew Research Center poll showing rising support for socialism as the remedy for capitalism.

Yes, yes, fine. Let's see how it all works out. To put it another way: Let's see what works out in practice and not just post-campaign rhetoric. The instant temptation, from the conservative side, is to go all weepy at such news. I would counsel resistance to such temptation: this, for a couple of reasons.

--The alliance of "Rising American Electorate" members is not necessarily based on congruence of interests. The young may be the shakiest element of the alliance for economic reasons. When you're earning $20,000 a year -- or living at home -- it may seem well to call for expropriation of the bloated plutocrats. The genius of America, nonetheless, has always been the elevation of the low-income earner to the higher tax brackets. To redistribute widely would be to overthrow the American premise of entitlement to the fruits of one's work and enterprise. Are we there yet? I see no persuasive evidence.


Bill Murchison

Bill Murchison is the former senior columns writer for The Dallas Morning News and author of There's More to Life Than Politics.
 
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