Pundits and analysts are scratching their heads to explain Democratic defeats in Virginia and New Jersey last week, particularly examining what caused massive shifts toward the GOP among independent voters in those two states.More at the link.
Explanations include brilliant Republican campaigns, bumbling Democratic efforts, tea-party conservatives surging, or dispirited liberals just staying home. Some even argue the issue matrix flipped again--last year voters wanted more government intervention; now suddenly they want less.
All of these explanations are plausible. And some even include a few kernels of truth. But there's one you may not have heard. Call it the "mission accomplished" thesis. It goes like this:
Barack Obama's victory was more about a cause than a campaign. It transcended issues such as health care reform, climate change, or embracing a new progressive agenda. It was in part about repudiating eight years of George W. Bush, especially his efforts in Iraq. But it was also about achieving a moral imperative--helping elect the first African-American president who promised to change the language of politics in this country ....
And then Obama won--a victory these voters savored.
Yet his 2008 win also contained another conclusion: Mission Accomplished. They could move on.
Andres mentions this theme as the central metaphor in HBO's documentary, By the People: The Election of Barack Obama.