Elections have a way of sharpening political senses, and President Barack Obama has gradually, on domestic policy at least, discovered some of that message that elected him in 2008. The Jobs bill and other initiatives have also reminded Democrats why they are Democrats and for the first time in years they are prepared to go over to the offensive.
What Obama has tried to do is formulate a national vision, infrastructure, across the board education standards and a restrains of a concept lost years ago of "the general welfare." He is given the task of not only directing the country, but rebuilding the party. After Bill Clinton, the Democrats returned to the 1920's party of local interests and competing client groups. An organization of Yuppies more concerned with "rights" than obligations, Clinton wanted to reconfigure the party as one that managed what was left of the New Deal and Great Society. No new initiatives and few original vistas to place before the part and the American people.
Despite his clumsiness, Obama has tried to push a national agenda. But the opposition, as it is their right, have put up a good fight. They have not been shy to engage in class warfare or behalf of the wealthy. Indeed, they seem to agree with President Herbert Hoover who once stated that a man who"is not a millionaire by age forty is not worth much." The richest 10 percent have 2/3 of the national wealth and according to the Tea Parties ought to have it. After all, these are the same people that wriggle with enthusiasm at the prospect of allowing a person to die in the hospital because they lack insurance. Others smugly taut their own superiority over their less fortunate neighbors.
Ayn Rand's objectivist wing has slowly taken over the GOP. While liberals worried about the Christian Rights this gang of ultra-materialists were on the move. Even Rick Perry's decision to inoculate all female students from cervical cancer is considered wrong. They jump to Donald Trump, whose self-love is evident for all to see or Herman Cain who as well is impressed with his own life story. Making money is everything trumping service or duty. All that are not hustling are drones. Whitaker Chambers, a conservative of good standing, commenting about "Atlas Shrugged" stated that in every paragraph there was the message "to a gas chamber go"; social Darwinism essentially run amok.
For Obama the task is to make the voter see behind the mask of traditional conservatism and recognize the exotic philosophy of the new style GOP, Mitt Romney, despite being nimble in debate, clearly has no won the hearts of the rank and file. They prefer almost anyone other than he or Jon Huntsman But there are Republicans formally represented by Mike Huckabee and now by the slowly melting Michelle Bachmann who believe in what President George W. Bush stated was "compassionate conservatism." What essentially has happened is a contributor's coup, by-passing the political middlemen and declaring a raw philosophy- a new gospel of wealth.
Franklin Roosevelt, beginning in 1936, began to call out those businessmen who saw themselves as independent units, unresponsive to the needs of society. Like Obama's critics, they attacked FDR viciously and tauted the untrammeled virtues of individualism, but only in the commercial sense. Roosevelt was a master in making these preening, self-satisfied "success" stories, seems like greedy hustlers.
During the 1940 presidential campaign, a Republican judge rather carelessly remarked "The President's only supporters are paupers earning less than $1,200 a year and not worth that." Roosevelt pointed out that half of the American people earned less and then he turned on the GOP. "Paupers who were not worth their salt-there speaks the true sentiment of the Republican leadership in this year of grace." Obama would be well advised to borrow FDR's next line and denounce the "direct, vicious, unpatriotic appeals to class hatred and class contempt" when confronting the curious crew who have hijacked what used to be known as conservatism.