“This country is going so far to the right you are not even going to recognize it,” remarked John Mitchell, President Nixon’s attorney general, in 1970. Mitchell’s prophecy became the mission of Nixon’s College Republican president, Karl Rove, who implemented the strategy of authoritarian populism behind George W. Bush’s victory.
In the aftermath, Democrats will form their ritual circular firing squad of recriminations. But, finally, the loss was not due to their candidate’s personality, the flaws of this or that advisor or the party’s platform. The Democrats surprised themselves at their ability to raise tens of millions of dollars, inspire hundreds of thousands of activists, spawn extensive new organizations, attract icons of popular culture and present themselves as unified around a centrist position.