The huge “9/12” protest in Washington was the latest expression of discontent over President Obama’s leftward policy thrust. The discord is evident from the “Tea Party” movement to the chaotic “townhalls” on “healthcare reform.”
The mainstream media and American left are thrown off by this, clearly wanting to dismiss it as a giant, petulant right-wing rant. Some “journalists,” as well as Democratic members of Congress, have described these genuinely concerned citizens in very demeaning terms, from “racists” to “Nazis.”
I know why the left is dismissive: First off, it’s difficult to know if the protesters are mostly people who didn’t vote for Obama, or, more significant, if they include Obama voters who have angrily bolted the president. But, second, there’s a deeper issue the name-callers on the left don’t understand. That’s because they don’t understand what happened on November 4, 2008.
Using data, I’d like to try to explain what took place.
Here’s the rub: On November 4, 2008, a largely conservative American electorate elected an extremely liberal American president. And now that that president is governing from the extreme left, a sizable portion of that electorate is in revolt. It’s that simple.
Let’s start from the beginning:
As a senator, Barack Obama was ranked the most liberal member of arguably the most liberal Senate in the nation’s history by the respected, non-partisan National Journal—famous for its rankings. Americans had never elected as president anyone from that position. Yet, that’s precisely what they did last November 4, and by an impressive margin.
Like many observers, including my liberal friends, I assumed America voted that way because the nation shifted to the left. That was my immediate feeling.
Of course, feelings shouldn’t drive conclusions. So, I went to the data, to the numerous exit polls widely available. There, I expected a reversal in the longtime pattern—beginning under Reagan in the 1980s—where Americans call themselves “conservative” rather than “liberal” by roughly two-to-one, or by around 40 percent compared to 20 percent.
Those numbers must have finally flipped in 2008—or at least narrowed dramatically? No. Despite voting for the most leftist president in the history of the republic, the electorate continued to identify itself as conservative over liberal by roughly two-to-one, around 40 percent to 20 percent.
Maybe this magically turned in Obama’s favor upon his inauguration? No.
Dr. Paul Kengor is professor of political science at Grove City College, executive director of The Center for Vision & Values, and author of the book, “The Communist: Frank Marshall Davis, The Untold Story of Barack Obama’s Mentor.” His other books include "The Crusader: Ronald Reagan and the Fall of Communism" and "Dupes: How America’s Adversaries Have Manipulated Progressives for a Century."