Years ago, I formulated Tracinski’s Rule of American Politics, which states that the left must be suppressed, hounded, mocked, vilified, and made to feel ashamed of itself. The idea is that we need to keep their heads down and keep them on the defensive, because the moment they feel confident and emboldened, they will attempt to take away all of our liberties.
I grew up in an era, after the debacles of the 1970s, when the failure of the left stood revealed on all fronts, from economics to crime to foreign policy. Its whole world-view seemed to be discredited, and people were open to an alternative in a way they hadn’t been for a long time.
It is now becoming clear that President Obama’s re-election has broken Tracinski’s Rule. It’s clear from the fiscal cliff negotiations, in which Obama grabbed the higher taxes he wanted without even making a show of reducing spending. It’s clear from the interview I linked to earlier with John Boehner, where he recounts this exchange with the president.
“At one point several weeks ago,” Mr. Boehner says, “the president said to me, ‘We don’t have a spending problem.’…
The president’s insistence that Washington doesn’t have a spending problem, Mr. Boehner says, is predicated on the belief that massive federal deficits stem from what Mr. Obama called “a health-care problem.” Mr. Boehner says that after he recovered from his astonishment—”They blame all of the fiscal woes on our health-care system”—he replied: “Clearly we have a health-care problem, which is about to get worse with ObamaCare. But, Mr. President, we have a very serious spending problem.” He repeated this message so often, he says, that toward the end of the negotiations, the president became irritated and said: “I’m getting tired of hearing you say that.”
My natural response to such a statement would be to stand up, look the president straight in the eye, and say, “We have a spending problem we have a spending problem we have a spending problem we have a spending problem we have a spending problem,” and then tell him to get used to it. But that’s just me.
But I doubt the president would be cowed, because he clearly believes his re-election is a mandate to get whatever he wants. So we now see him demanding even more tax increases, trying to revive one of the great lost causes of the left by pushing through gun control, and nominating for Secretary of Defense a prominent anti-interventionist who is soft on Iran and seems to have been chosen to preside over massive reductions in defense spending and provide political cover for a complete withdrawal from Afghanistan.
In other words, Democrats no longer feel they have to pretend to respect gun owners or oppose tax increases or take a hard line against Islamic terrorism. They feel free to be, openly and unabashedly, who they are.
That’s why I’ve been saying that the re-election of President Obama puts us in a new era. If Obama had lost, and especially if Obamacare had been repealed, the Democrats would have felt snake-bitten and it would have made them more cautious than ever in declaring and pursuing their agenda. As it is, the election seems to have loosened their restraints. It created a key psychological change, and the only way to reverse it, I fear, is through a giant new crisis that gets blamed on the left.
Then we can implement Tracinski’s Rule of American Politics again.