Ross Douthat: The Bailouts Have Made Americans More Skeptical of Global Warming
Here’s Douthat in today’s New York Times, explaining how a country that elected a Democratic Congress in 2006, then extended the margins in both houses while installing a Democratic President in the White House in 2008, is suddenly more right-wing.
In some cases, nearly 20 years of liberal gains have been erased in 20 months. Americans are more likely to self-identify as conservative than at any point since Bill Clinton’s first term. They’ve become more skeptical of government and more anxious about deficits and taxes. They’re more inclined to identify as pro-life and anti-gun control, more doubtful about global warming, more hostile to regulation. And, not surprisingly, they’re more likely to consider voting Republican on Tuesday.
So what happened to the brave new liberal era? Well, a few things. The Wall Street bailout made big government seem like a corrupt racket. The unemployment rate made activist government appear helpless in a crisis. The yawning deficits made a free-spending government look like a luxury the country might not be able to afford.
This is silly.
Despite a weak economy, polls show that Democrats are still preferred to Republicans on an issue-by-issue basis and overall. The country has not suddenly swung rightward overnight. Americans aren’t voting Republican because they like Republicans or agree with Republicans so much as they’re punishing Democrats for not fixing the mess Bush/Cheney made fast enough or thoroughly enough.
But…seriously. Just who this imaginary voter Douthat has conjured up in his head, who thinks, in effect, “I used to be pro-choice, but after the bailout, I’m against abortion”?