Ezra Klein has a column out arguing against the idea that conservatism won in this year’s election. I would agree with that, but only to a certain extent. Conservatism may not have won this year, but it didn’t lose either, because it wasn’t on the ballot-nor was liberalism. This was not an ideological election pitting conservatives who want to get government off of people’s backs against liberals who believe that more government is the solution to people’s problems.
This election came down to corruption and national security. Corruption, like runaway spending, was a symptom of the illness that infected a Republican Party that had fallen in love with power and betrayed its core principles. National security still decided the third election in a row, but this year the climate was more favorable to Democrats. In 2004, most of those who identified Iraq as the most important issue voted for John Kerry, while most of those who cited terrorism voted for President Bush. This time around, because the War in Iraq had become more unpopular, more people identified Iraq as their most important issue and voted overwhelmingly Democratic and those who identified terrorism as the most important issue cast their votes more equally for both parties.
Any attempt to interpret this election as a win or loss for conservatism or a win or a loss for liberalism is a mistake in my view.
For more on why I think conservatism didn’t lose on Tuesday and why liberalism didn’t win, click here.