Mark Schmitt says progressives may have lost this election -- but conservatism and the Republican Party are hardly stronger for their success:
Many pundits, from the right to the center, will write this morning that Obama misjudged the country, that it's still more conservative than it appeared to be in 2006 and 2008. Unlike some of my Prospect colleagues, I agree with the second half of that statement. The country is not radically different from the one that elected George W. Bush at least once, and where only a small portion of voters identify themselves as liberal. But it's not true that Obama didn't recognize or engage with that conservatism. To the consternation of many liberals, he very much did, which is why he spent the bulk of last year looking for bipartisan alliance on health care, around principles that had already been adapted to reflect the proposals of actual conservatives, or why he visited the House Republican Caucus last January and tried to take their ideas seriously, a high point of his presidency. But conservative Republicans dodged the outreach. They cut themselves off from their own proposals or, like Sen. Lindsay Graham, pretended to cooperate (on climate change or immigration reform) while looking for excuses to defect. Conservatism survived, if it did, by making itself elusive, avoiding any attempt to pull it into the governing process.
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