Obama is ... straight out of a Democratic dream factory; his being touches and excites every element of the vast and varied Democratic party coalition. He and his wife are activist lawyers; he is connected to both the 1960s radicals (Ayers et al) and the Daley Democrats who beat them up in 1968 (Michelle’s father was a Daley ward heeler). Obama is not only an environmentalist-surfer from Hawaii, but he is a better public speaker than Keanau Reeves. He is an author-intellectual yet he can emote. He is telegenic and fit, yet has one perfect flaw: he is struggling in his fight against cigarettes. He has no problem with his wife earning more than he does while he decries the fact that, on average, women earn less than men in the some positions. He is Christian, but not born-again. And so on. He is an absolutely perfect incarnation of the liberal dream.
If Obama is rejected by voters, liberal activists will face a difficult moment. Mondale, Dukakis, Gore, Kerry, sure. There was something wrong with them. A failure to connect. A remoteness. A coldness felt in some feathers of the left wing. Bill Clinton was an electoral success, but something about him didn’t sit right. The drama. The southerness. The welfare reform. The zaftig valley girl. Activists can understand why voters might have punished Hillary for the sins of Bill.
But Obama? He is perfect.
A rejection of Obama can only mean one of two things: a rejection of the 1960s formulation of liberalism (the current formulation, alas) or that America is deeply racist. Too many of them will go for the second hypotheses.
Too many think that elections turn on identities, not ideas.
If Obama loses–and it is still a big ‘if’–too many liberals will fail to heed the message that voters have been sending them since 1981. Seventy percent of the country is tired of 1960s liberalism. Indeed many find the hippie vision frightening: A country too ashamed of itself to fight its enemies, too unsure of itself to praise its own history, govern its children or corral its criminals, and too resentful of the rich to allow the economy to make more of them.