After the landslide election last November that left Republicans nationwide at their highest water mark in 75 years, it seemed conservatives had the wind at their back. Between the Supreme Court decisions, Obama’s good luck (so far), and the wild card of Donald Trump, suddenly the wind is out of our sails. But maybe not for long.
One of the long-wave theories of our political cycles has it that Republican fortunes began to wane a while back precisely because conservatism had been so successful in several of its main objects. Reagan cut high tax rates, revived the American economy and won the Cold War; a little later, conservative policies reformed welfare and brought about a dramatic reduction in the crime rate—both of which in turn helped vitally in reviving a lot of urban areas in the U.S. And whatever you may think of George W. Bush’s Middle East actions, there were no more 9/11-style attacks on the American homeland.
So Democrats skillfully exploited cultural issues—abortion, women’s rights, gay marriage, confederate flags, etc—about which the media-Hollywood complex gives them a huge boost (Will & Grace and Modern Family were more important to changing public opinion about gay marriage than the Human Rights Campaign Fund) to woo especially younger voters for whom cultural issues are more important than marginal income tax rates, centralized regulation, or foreign threats.
Kristin Soltis Anderson writes about this in her new book The Selfie Vote:
In focus group after focus group, young voters told me that hey viewed gay marriage as a “deal breaker” issue, and that even if the Republican Party’s economic policies sounded appealing, they’d have a hard time casting a ballot for someone associated with the GOP.
Well, the gay marriage debate is over, and the left won. Meanwhile, urban crime and disorder—did you catch the NY Post cover yesterday?—are rapidly on the rise again where “progressives” like NYC’s Bill DeBlasio are back in charge. The economy continues to perform weakly, and our enemies gather strength overseas. Even with the economic recovery gaining a little momentum, some blue states and blue cities (Chicago, for example) are still in desperate fiscal shape. A number of issues that hurt liberals very badly back in the 1970s, 80s, and 90s look to be coming back. Some of these might become acute before election-day next year. Meanwhile, what is the cultural left going to do once it expunges every last Democratic Party Confederate battle flag? Yes, I know—they’ll think of something. My point is that the cultural issues have played out, and the “issue map” may now be changing in ways that will favor conservatives.