National Review’s Stanley Kurtz (1) looks at the “Red/Blue map” of America that first became famous in the 2000 election, then considers the current race with its sharp ideological contrast between Obama-Biden and Romney-Ryan, and comes to the conclusion that our ideological war over the nature of the United States is only going to get sharper and louder before it ever gets better: “Two Tickets, Two Americas.”
First we need to understand that our political divisions are real and growing. They are rooted not in top-down political rhetoric but in profound and lasting social and cultural differences. For a while, analysts tended to make light of our polarization, fruitlessly predicting year after year that our culture war (still raging) was just about to end. If anything, the culture wars have expanded now to include the whole of politics. It used to be that only arguments over gay marriage or abortion were stigmatized as moral abominations. Now even differences over health care reform and the deficit are super-charged with moral accusation.
Whichever way this election goes, these divisions will only deepen. Fundamentally, this is because what President Obama and the increasingly left-leaning coalition he leads actually want is impossibly far from what red America is willing to accept. Until very recently, this gulf has been hidden by Obama’s refusal to level with the American people about his goals. What the public still doesn’t understand, despite the president’s somewhat more open left-turn of late, is just how far left his second-term agenda aims to go. I’ve laid out some of it here, and Americans are simply not prepared for what is about to hit us should Obama win. So while an Obama victory would indeed allow the president to entrench some of his most controversial policies, his restless tendency to push things ever further to the left will almost certainly generate dynamic new movements of opposition.
Kurtz goes on to point out that a Romney victory, even if a landslide as I and others believe possible, won’t end this struggle. The Left has had a taste of what it can achieve and, controlling as it does the still-dominant culture-shaping media, it will likely see a conservative win as only a temporary setback.
Hang on to your hats; this ride has only just begun.
(1) Kurtz is the author of, so far, two great books about Obama: “Radical in Chief,” a political biography of Obama that I reviewed here, and “Spreading the Wealth,” which looks into Obama’s plans for a second term and which I’m currently reading.
(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)