CRB: How Obama won, and lost

The Summer issue of the Claremont Review of Books (subscribe here) published Jonah Goldberg’s terrific review of Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness: Ten Years of the Claremont Review of Books, edited by Charles Kesler and John Kienker. Jonah closes his review with these comments:

The Claremont Review of Books came on the scene far too late, but also just in time. Its influence on the conservative movement has been as enormous as it has been unheralded by the mainstream media. Virtually every critique of the Progressive Era in the last ten years in any conservative publication or forum can be traced back to the work of the Claremont Institute, the CRB, and her contributors in one way or another. (My own arguments about the progressive roots of liberalism were overwhelmingly inspired and informed by the works of scholars in the orbit of the Claremont Institute and the CRB. Whatever success Liberal Fascism had in popularizing the assault on the Progressive Era can be traced back to their work.) More impressive still, their indictment of the progressive revolution in politics and call for a renewed constitutionalism has become the defining and unifying cause of the Right in the Obama years and, I hope, beyond.

Of course, one need not agree with or even care about such things to enjoy this book. It, like the magazine, shines on its literary quality alone.

The Fall issue not only illustrates Jonah’s observations, it also arrives “just in time” for Christmas. I read the issue last week in PDF to pick out pieces to preview for Power Line readers. It’s a large issue, chock full of great essays and reviews. Wanting to give our readers a taste of the wealth of riches on display, I asked our friends at the CRB to let us roll out five pieces this week rather than the usual three.

The lead article in the new issue — “How Obama Won, and Lost” — is the full-length essay of the column by James W. Ceaser that we highlighted in the days following the election. Ceaser, professor of politics at the University of Virginia, explores the meaning of Obama’s victory, the impact it will have on the American political landscape, and the electoral future of the Republican Party in light of the outcome.

Professor Ceaser does not regard Obama’s victory as a ringing endorsement of Obama’s past performance or plans for the future. However, Ceasar contends that the outcome of the election is ominous. It was a close run thing, but conservatives face the prospect that American politics at the national level now approximates the “blue” state models of California, Illinois, or New York. This new order, says Ceasar, will not be undone. Demographics favor the Democrats, whose creation of large constituencies receiving targeted benefits will make it increasingly difficult for Republicans to squeeze out majorities from their smaller number of potential voters.

Nevertheless, the failure of the blue state model will give conservatives would give conservatives the opportunity to do something about if they have not ceded too much ground to the left: “Conservatives in the next four years will have to bargain with liberals, but they must not become complicit in embracing liberal principles. If the blue state model falls flat—without George W. Bush to blame next time—there will still be enough Americans willing to give conservatives a chance.” This is an important essay for conservatives to read and ponder.

Tomorrow: Thomas Sowell on the perversity of diversity.