I’d like to make the case that conservative positions are still winning positions.
Set your way back machines to the 2008 and 2012 campaign seasons. Remember how Obama ran on some issues as a conservative in both his elections? Here’s a few examples:
1. He was very anti debt/deficit in his messaging in both 2008 and 2012 (In 2012, he claimed to have reduced the deficit – even though it was from the highs he helped create.)
2. Traditional marriage. Obama waited until after the 2008 election to come out for gay marriage. Both He and his Democrat allies were not for changing marriage. He was always for it in reality, but waiting till after the election shows it was a losing position in 2008.
3. National security. Remember, the message was that Al Qaeda was decimated and Bin Laden was dead, according to Obama in the 2012 campaign.
4. While he did promote “immigration reform” he didn’t openly speak of amnesty, but talked tough on illegal alien apprehensions and deportations (through very creative accounting in 2012).
So, lower gov’t spending, traditional marriage, strong national security and immigration enforcement are some of the issues the Democrats used to win in 2012 and 2008 (along with a dose of racial voter drive).
Now, remember how you scratched your head thinking “how can anyone believe this guy”? You knew who he was, but the average voter tunes into a few debates and campaign commercials. They are easy to manipulate.
I think voters can be divided into 3 groups, true believers on the left, true believers on the right and the average voter. There is some noise from racial and gender based voters, but I don’t think most Americans are like that. Maybe I’m not cynical enough.
The true believers are already on one side of the issues I listed above. They can see through the campaign rhetoric, they know how they think a candidate will actually govern. The average voter is still moved by the 4 issues I listed above or Obama wouldn’t have used them to his advantage in the last 2 elections. Which way did Obama think they’d want to go? Obviously, toward the conservative side or he would have run on the same rhetoric Hillary Clinton is using.
It matters that Obama had to campaign sounding like a conservative on a number of issues to win. He could do this to woo the average voter and not lose his true believers. His Republican opponents, on the other hand, did not challenge his credibility on those issues, and couldn’t because they themselves were not credible on those issues. Obama could pretty much match rhetoric with McCain and Romney, because they weren’t conservatives and weren’t trying to campaign like it (at least G.W. Bush got the campaigning part right).
Now, as I pointed out, Hillary is campaigning further left of Obama. Why? Because she can’t out-conservative the Republican field and won’t be seen as credible to the average voter if she tried. Her stripes are already visible. My point is that conservative positions are still winning positions with the average voter or Obama wouldn’t have utilized them. But when you don’t have a strong distinction, with matching credibility what’s the result? It is this: average voters will go for the slick candidate or vote superficially/racially and true believers on either side will vote (or not vote) based on reality and not campaign rhetoric.
When the reality is uninspiring for one third of the 3 groups, and the middle third sees a candidate running on issues they agree with, you get 2008 and 2012. In 2016 (Lord willing) we will have a credibly conservative candidate running on the issues of the middle third and actually inspiring the other third. Hillary Clinton has no choice but to run as a losing candidate. She could have run as the Obama candidate (an incognito progressive posing with conservative issues with a gender inspiration instead of a racial inspiration), but that ship has sailed.