This was a powerful victory under political circumstances the difficulty of which are seriously under-appreciated. The consequences of this win for the country’s unfolding debate with itself over inequality are large. It’s obviously a relief and gratification for all the president’s supporters, for what is the country’s first broad and real multiracial political party, the early 21st century Democratic party.The most concrete thing that strikes me about this public verdict is that Health Care Reform, Obamacare, a system of near universal coverage that will provide a framework for future reform, is here for good.
It withstood the challenge of the conservative judiciary. It survived a national referendum. As Bill Kristol wrote memorably back in late 1993, the reason conservatives fought this so hard is because they knew that once it was in place the public would never let it be taken away. And it won’t. It’s here for good. That alone would seal President Obama’s legacy.
Most everybody wins in a buoyant economy. And it is important to remember the late emerging news that showed he economy was improving over the course of 2012 more than we thought. Still, the economy is only just getting off its feet from the worst economic crisis in almost eighty years. When a president wins reelection under those circumstances it points to something deeper in the ideological and demographic fabric of the country than luck or personality.
When he worked as a young man for President Nixon, Patrick Buchanan wrote the president a famous political memo in which he said that the party could cut the country in half and be left with the bigger part. That shrewd if cynical analysis anticipated much of the country’s subsequent political history. But now, in this election, you see the Republican party still cutting the country in half but now having the smaller part. That’s the story with the pivotal role of Hispanic voters — in addition to African-American voters, more socially liberal younger voters in their twenties, women and politically activated and newly socially accepted LGBT voters.
There’s a lot to understand and examine here. And no shortage of time to do it.