One of my favorite examples was noted in a column I wrote during Obama’s first 100 days, titled, “An Obama-Reagan Presidency?” I cited a survey by Clarus Research Group that asked Americans which president should be the model for Barack Obama in shaping his presidency. Surely, the public picked a liberal, right? FDR or LBJ?
No. The electorate’s top choice was America’s most conservative president: Ronald Reagan.
Is that even remotely logical? No, it isn’t.
Finally, one more example, which hit last summer: A Gallup poll reported that conservatives outnumber liberals in literally every state.
Again, that isn’t a surprise, but the specifics of the poll are worth detailing:
It was conducted January through May, when “Obama-mania” was at its peak. Gallup surveyed 160,000 people, far and away a big enough sample for an accurate representation. It found 40 percent calling themselves conservative and 21 percent opting for liberal, largely unchanged from Gallup findings over the last two decades, including the 2004 presidential race (40 percent to 19 percent) and 2000 race (38 percent to 19 percent).
Gallup reaffirmed that conservatives are the single largest voting bloc in America. There are decidedly more conservatives among both women (37 percent to 23 percent) and men (44 percent to 20 percent).
The shock is that such an electorate would choose a president so far to the left.
What the country elected, however, was an appealing politician campaigning under a nebulous, catch-all-be-all banner of “change.” Americans didn’t cast ballots in favor of Barack Obama’s sweeping left-wing ideological preferences—which they knew little about, in part thanks to the same liberal media now fuming at the protesters. They voted for personality; they elected Obama, not his politics. Obama didn’t get a “progressive” mandate.
This is a conservative country. It will not be easily governed by a president governing from the big-government, collectivist left. Obama is doing that, and thus the backlash. We’re watching the inevitable clash between a schizophrenic, irrational electorate and a principled, leftist president.
Yes, conservatives lost on November 4, 2008, but it wasn’t conservatism that was rejected. Likewise, it wasn’t progressivism/liberalism/socialism that was approved.
Blame it on the general public? Yes, certainly.
Barack Obama shouldn’t have expected this electorate to choose him president any more than Eugene Debs or Norman Thomas once did.
In sum, liberals need to understand this reality. Their guy got a major victory on November 4, but not a left-wing mandate.
The only remaining questions are to what degree Obama continues the push to the left, and precisely how much of the electorate is against him.
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."