The Decline of the Left

The Republican landslide in Virginia and the stunning upset in New Jersey were not the only bad news for the left in the last few months. The Social Democrats in the September German elections for the Bundestag did worse than in any election since the Second World War. Angela Merkel's Christian Democrats lost some support as well, but the market-oriented Free Democrats made major gains, and a center-right coalition now governs Germany with a majority of seats in the Bundestag. Polling data one month after the German general election indicates that Germans continue to oppose a left-of-center government.

The Labour Party in Britain has suffered two seasons of dramatic thumping in local council and municipal elections. In May, the Labour Party not only came in twenty points behind the Conservative Party, but Labour ran third in popular vote -- an emphatic repudiation of the ruling party and its leader, Gordon Brown.

Polling data for over two years has shown that in the next general election, which must be held within seven months, David Cameron and the Conservative Party will win a landslide victory, ending almost two decades of leftist rule in Britain. When that happens, each of the four major nations in Western Europe will have governments of the right, not of the left.

On November 9th, the Conservative Party in Canada won three of four special elections to Parliament, which added two more seats to the Conservative Party caucus. It also dramatically decreased the chances that the Liberal Party, the largest opposition party in Canada, would be able to convince the other two oppositional parties to force a general election.  

These victories for the Conservative Party were unexpected, but they were in line with public opinion polling over the last few months, which showed the Conservative Party winning the next general election. Some polls showed the Conservative Party winning an absolute majority in Parliament, while others simply showed Conservatives holding a very strong plurality in the Parliament. The most recent polls show the Conservative Party with a fourteen-point lead over the Liberal Party.

The pattern over the last several years has been clear in the old major democracies of Europe and North America: the left simply ceases to appeal to voters anymore. The right -- whatever that is supposed to be these days -- resembles the Republican Party in America. It has yet to clearly carve out what it is for, and it instead represents an anti-left vote.  

So while Americans overwhelmingly reject the label of "liberal" or "progressive" in public opinion polls, and while Ronald Reagan remains the only genuinely popular American political figure more than two decades after he left office, what "conservative" is supposed to reflect is only slowly forming in the Republican Party after twelve years of Republican dominance, from 1994 to 2006. 

There is in America and in much of the West a profound sense of unhappiness with the way things are now, which means a robust "No!" vote whenever voters have a chance to affect the status quo or the policies of those in power. The breathtaking scope of the defeat of establishment-backed state questions in California last May is just another indication of how completely out of sync most voters feel with their elected representatives. The anger that conservatives felt in NY-23 -- enough to lose a House seat rather than fill it with a RINO -- is another test of just how out of touch party leaders are with those they represent.

The collapse of the left does not mean the rise of the right. The end of Gordon Brown does not mean the triumph of David Cameron, and the unpopularity of the Liberal Party in Canada does not necessarily mean the victory of the Conservative Party's policies. The same is true in America. The repudiation of Jon Corzine in New Jersey will mean something only if Governor Christie implements lower taxes, less regulation, and clean government. Halting Obamacare in the Senate will mean something only if Republicans come back with a clear, united plan for improvement of health care delivery in America through market options. President Obama's declining popularity will translate into change we can believe in only when Republican leaders begin (again) to believe in the touchstone principles of limited government, Judeo-Christian moral principles, and market economies. It is time to stand for something.

Bruce Walker is the author of two books: Sinisterism: Secular Religion of the Lie and The Swastika against the Cross: The Nazi War on Christianity.
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