I've seen a lot of writing over the last two days about how Obama needs to be careful as he moves ahead with his presidency because he's so liberal and the country is fundamentally conservative. I've seen and heard the phrase "center-right nation" more times than I can count. Newsweek, always on the lookout for a scoop, printed a cover story a few weeks ago declaring, America the Conservative. (That hasn't stopped them from running at least two major stories on the end of conservativism in the last year, though.) Here's my issue: I don't know how true this talk is.
We heard throughout the entire campaign that Obama was the most liberal member of the U.S. Senate. We heard that he was the most liberal candidate ever nominated in our nation's history. Over the last two weeks or so we heard he was a wealth spreading, redistributionist, socialist. The word was out on this guy. He's a lefty. I think he even writes with his left hand.
So if we have a candidate who everyone knows is a liberal and he's elected by a huge electoral margin and a decent sized popular margin and Democrats gain seats in both the House and Senate and Democrats acrss the country do so well, how center-right are we really?
I agree with the idea that we are not a nation of radicals. We don't favor huge revolutionary changes. But this kind of tempermental conservativism is very different from political conservativism. Tempermentally I agree that we as a nation favor gradual changes. However, I think history has shown us that we tend to favor those changes in a progressive, left-leaning direction. That's why we have a progressive income tax, Social Security, the FDIC, civil rights legislation, and more.
I guess we'll find out for sure what Americans think when President Obama starts implementing his policy agenda. All I'm saying is that when the left wins everything it's hard to say that we're a right leaning nation.