David Brooks recently bucked the trend of looking back at the decade most of us would like to forget in order to prognosticate about the next ten years. Okay, so that’s just trading one trend for another, but at least I’m not going on about the Bono article.
In almost every sphere of public opinion, Americans are moving away from the administration, not toward it. The Ipsos/McClatchy organizations have been asking voters which party can do the best job of handling a range of 13 different issues. During the first year of the Obama administration, the Republicans gained ground on all 13.
The public is not only shifting from left to right. Every single idea associated with the educated class has grown more unpopular over the past year.
The educated class believes in global warming, so public skepticism about global warming is on the rise. The educated class supports abortion rights, so public opinion is shifting against them. The educated class supports gun control, so opposition to gun control is mounting.
The story is the same in foreign affairs. The educated class is internationalist, so isolationist sentiment is now at an all-time high, according to a Pew Research Center survey. The educated class believes in multilateral action, so the number of Americans who believe we should “go our own way” has risen sharply.
A year ago, the Obama supporters were the passionate ones. Now the tea party brigades have all the intensity.
The tea party movement is a large, fractious confederation of Americans who are defined by what they are against. They are against the concentrated power of the educated class. They believe big government, big business, big media and the affluent professionals are merging to form self-serving oligarchy — with bloated government, unsustainable deficits, high taxes and intrusive regulation.
I’m always hesitant to fall back on the whole “people are stupid” idea, or divide my view of right and wrong according to education. But it’s not just the Bush years, the “naughty oughties”, or whatever we might call the last ten years; rather, almost the whole of the period in which my political conscience has been active has been defined by the difference between being smart or stupid.