The Democrats are about to be beaten by something that they do not in their heart of hearts think exists, a huge national majority. At this late hour, with the storm clouds gathering and the livestock getting restless, they see only sunshine. Yes, there is "foreign money" out there. Yes, the media have bungled broadcasting the purity of the Democratic message. And naturally, angry voices can be heard. Yet surely there is no majority gathering to unseat the party of decency and good deeds. Well, there is, and it is nothing like how the Democrats describe it.
That majority is amiable and sensible and believes in limited government. It is convinced that we face a catastrophic budget crisis and that measures must be taken against the spending and on behalf of growth. Furthermore, many of these friendly Americans would be delighted to give our president a ride home if they found him on a street corner, though they would be a lot happier if he did not live at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. They doubt he would ask them in for a drink. After all, to him they do not exist.
Many of these people are tea partyers. Now, they certainly do exist. Yet they are nothing like what the Democrats believe them to be. They are not angry and warlike. They are concerned about what the Democrats have done these past months, but they will retire them the old-fashioned way, through the ballot box.
Our president has a difficult time conceiving of this growing majority that opposes him. Apparently, in May, President Obama asked a group of presidential historians over to the White House to discuss history and to inform him of any historical movements comparable to the tea party movement in all of American history. The historians told him what he wanted to hear. As Peter Baker wrote in The New York Times Magazine, the president wanted to know whether there are "precedents for this sort of backlash against the establishment." If so, "what sparked them and how did they shape American politics?" Reportedly, the historians spoke of the "Know-Nothings" of the 1850s, the Populists of the 1890s and the Coughlinites of the 1930s. Thus, our president was reassured. They were racists and fruitcakes. He heard nothing to challenge his smug sense of history.