NY Times columnist Charles Blow rounds up a variety of indicators of surging conservatism -- the closing gap between Republican and Democratic identification among voters for one.
Is this a reaction to a new Democratic administration in general or to President Obama in particular? Maybe it’s the manifestation of something more deeply rooted in our behavior.
A hundred and fifty years ago, Abraham Lincoln framed conservatism thusly: “What is conservatism? Is it not adherence to the old and tried, against the new and untried?” It was and still is. Conservatism for some is a collective mooring against the waves of change. It is a reflexive reaction to uncertainty.
The Obama administration’s response to the financial and automotive crises and its pursuit of a wide range of reforms is the epitome of new and untried. Major change has come much too quickly for far too many. The response: retreat to a cocoon of conservatism.
Nothing illustrates this better than the health care reform debate. Fear of change and the uncertainty it brings is driving a large portion of the opposition.
Blow closes with the big political question:
I believe that fear is fleeting and anger subsides. The question is: Where are we along the arc of anxiety? If it persists, it could spell real trouble for the Democrats a year from now.