Is the Liberal Moment Over?

That’s the question Byron York asks, based on Gallup poll results indicating that most Americans are back to wanting the government to promote “traditional values” rather than “not favoring any particular set of values.” That preference has generally existed over the last 20 years, but the balance swung away from “traditional values”–which means whatever the poll respondent has in mind–beginning in 2005.
Byron argues that this is more evidence that the Democrats have badly misread their mandate:

[T]hat period of revulsion at Bush and Republicans from 2005 to 2008 left a legacy: a Democrat in the White House and large Democratic majorities in the House and Senate, at least until 2010. That is why you see Democrats racing to enact their agenda, even as they see the political conditions around them changing. They have the majorities, based on the public’s very temporary mood of 2005-2008, and they are determined to put their preferred policies in place no matter what the public thinks now.
The Gallup numbers also suggest that Barack Obama and the Democratic leadership in the House and Senate have fundamentally misread their own victories. Did voters elect Democrats because they desperately wanted national health care? Sprawling and expensive environmental regulation? Federal deficits triple the size of just a few years ago? No. The voters elected Democrats because they were sick of Bush and Republicans. Now Bush and the GOP are gone and out of power. Democrats are doing what they thought the voters wanted. And it turns out the voters didn’t want that at all.

This is a variation on a point we’ve made several times. The “out” party gets back into power when voters get sick of the “in” party. When that happens, it’s a natural tendency for the former “outs” to exaggerate the extent to which the voters love them and want to implement their ideology, as opposed to mostly being tired of the other guys. Thus, overreaching is almost inevitable. And we’ve seen it in spades over the last eight months.
PAUL adds: There’s a bit of tension between Byron’s two paragraphs. The second suggests that the Dems are pushing an ultra-liberal mandate because they think it’s what the voters elected them to do. The first suggests they are pushing that agenda because it’s what they want, come hell or high water, which I think is probably right.

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