The Locker Room

Barone explains Americans' turn against Obama

Posted by Mitch Kokai at 10:11 AM

The Washington Examiner promotes this morning a column Michael Barone wrote for British readers explaining voters' loss of enthusiasm for Barack Obama:

In the 1930s, John Maynard Keynes famously said that practical men of business, who acknowledged no intellectual influences, were actually the slaves of some defunct economist. Today I would say that the Obama Democrats, who acknowledge no intellectual superiors, have been the slaves of defunct political scientists and historians.

To be specific, the defunct Progressive political scientists and New Deal historians. The Progressives argued that history inevitably and rightly moves Left, from no government to big government. The New Deal historians taught that in times of economic distress, voters will be particularly supportive of, or at least unusually amenable to, a vast expansion of government.

Obama and Democratic congressional leaders, coming to power in the wake of financial crisis and in the midst of a deep recession, acted on this theory. Oddly, Obama deferred almost entirely to the congressional leaders on the details of the legislation. Don't you worry about the small stuff, he seemed to feel; history is on your side.

They passed a $787 billion stimulus package which, not accidentally, increased the baseline budgets of many agencies a permanent expansion of government. A third of the money went to state and local governments, to spare public employee union members the ravages of the recession that were afflicting everyone else. (Unions, which mostly represent public employees, gave Democrats $400 million in the 2008 campaign cycle.)

They passed a health care bill that was the most unpopular major legislation passed by Congress since the Kansas-Nebraska Act of 1854. That law, which allowed settlers to decide whether to allow slavery in these new territories, resulted in the disappearance of one major political party, the demotion to minority status of the other and led to civil war. The effects of Obamacare will not be so dire, though some longtime Democratic officeholders may think so on November 3.

The Obama Democrats gave the theories of the Progressive political scientists and the New Deal historians as much of a fair test as a theory ever gets in our messy, real world. They clearly flunked.

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