Reeling from Tuesday’s widespread losses, yesterday “about 20 political strategists and social and fiscal conservative leaders met” to discuss the future of the movement at the home of Brent Bozell, head of the right-wing Media Research Center. Describing the meeting on Fox News this morning, Bozell insisted America remained a “center-right country” and that the election had not been the death knell for conservatism because “conservatism played no role in the election.” Seconds later, however, Bozell claimed that Barack Obama had won the election “as a conservative”:
BOZELL: Conservatives didn’t play a role in this campaign. This was a moderate Republican against a liberal, left-wing Democrat. And the left-wing Democrat beat the moderate Republican. … If you look at the exit polls this year, you’ll find two fascinating results. Number one: This country remains every bit as center-right as it has for a generation.
HEMMER: You don’t think that’s changed at all?
BOZELL: No it hasn’t. … Number one is that the public is conservative; number two: Barack Obama won as a conservative. That means Barack Obama does not have the mandate to enact the progressive agenda he wants to enact.
As Bozell seems to acknowledge at the start of the interview, Obama in fact “ran on the most progressive platform of any presidential candidate in at least 15 years, including a promise of universal health care coverage, a dramatic transformation to a low-carbon economy, and a historic investment in education.” Despite the radical right’s repeated claims to the contrary, Tuesday’s election results were a clear mandate for positive progressive change.
What’s more, Bozell insisted that if you simply “look at the exit polls,” you see proof that Americans remain conservative. However, exit polls show that Americans were overwhelmingly concerned about the economy — and the majority of those voters saw Obama as the best steward of the economy. Moreover, two-thirds said they were worried about being able to afford health care, and sixty percent of these voters supported Obama. A majority of voters felt the government “should do more” rather than less, and 63 percent disapproved of the Iraq war.
As far as Bozell’s point that Obama ran as a conservative and thus has no mandate for progressive change — even the McCain campaign disputes that claim. As Mark Salter told Politico, Americans clearly understood Obama’s progressive agenda:
Our polling showed that more than 60 percent of voters identified Obama as a liberal. Typically, a candidate is not going to win the presidency with those figures. But I think the country just disregarded it. People didn’t care. They just wanted the biggest change they could get.
Perhaps the media isn’t reporting the “fascinating stuff” Bozell sees in the election results because it’s simply not true.
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