Two very important things happened in politics this week. First, the elections underscored just how fed up mainstream America is with extreme liberalism. Second, President Obama, with his formal endorsement of same-sex marriage, is openly casting his lot with his extremist base.
The question is: How will putative GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney interpret and respond to these events? Will he fall into the usual Republican trap of thinking he has to follow his Democratic opponent leftward to appear more moderate? Or will he show his confidence in the reasonableness of conservatism and in the American people to embrace him if he clearly articulates it?
To some extent, we are all products of our environments. We get our sense of what is "normal" from those with whom we most frequently associate, which at least partially explains liberal media figures believing that their minority views are mainstream.
They uniformly ridicule traditional American values on national TV as if they are held only by flyover throwbacks who haven't yet been exposed to the enlightened wisdom of the coasts. How else do you explain Chris Matthews' brazen characterization of the GOP as the "grand wizard" party and as flat-earthers and those who don't believe in science? Or candidate Obama's derisive portrayal of small-town Americans as bitter clingers, apparently clueless that the statement would reveal him, not those he described, as extreme?
There are countless other examples, including liberals and ex-liberals who've said that until they reached a certain age, they'd never met a Republican or conservative in their lives. And we've all seen the statistics on the staggeringly high percentage of atheism among Beltway journalists and media figures compared with the rest of the American people.
Yet with their megaphones, these liberals have been preaching that their worldview is the majority position and that those not subscribing to it are wrongheaded, immoral and standing athwart the progress of history.
On top of these pressures, Romney has doubtlessly been conditioned by Massachusetts voters to some degree to think that center-left is center and that mainstream right is extreme right. I just hope he realizes the significance of polling data showing that for decades, twice as many Americans have identified themselves as conservatives, as well as the significance of state elections consistently rejecting same-sex marriage despite enormous media and leftist cultural pressure to shame states into legalizing it.
Romney is not alone. Even many center-right pundits seem vulnerable to mainstream media, Hollywood and other cultural propaganda bombarding us with the message that liberalism is morally superior. Is it not amazing that during the budget ceiling debates between President Obama and House Republicans, it was the Republicans -- you know, the ones who merely wanted to reduce the rate of increase in federal spending -- who were painted as the extremists? Couldn't you feel the palpable fear -- even among many a right-wing pundit -- that if House Republicans held their ground, they would make Obama look like the reasonable party and increase his chances for re-election?
What I'm saying is that Romney and other Republicans need to show a little more confidence in the reasonableness of conservative policies and in the American people to support them when they are plainly explained. Romney does not need to apologize for his monetary success; he doesn't need to strip high-income earners of legitimate tax deductions; he doesn't need to throw bones to the global warming zealots; and he doesn't need to pander to Democrats on student loan extensions.
If Republican candidates insist on allowing Democrats to make this election a contest over which party cares more about the American people, then perhaps they ought to make the case that compassion means we quit spending the nation and our children into bankruptcy and that we should re-establish economic policies that history has proved lead to economic growth.
But they mustn't stop there. They must also take the offensive and show that it is the Democratic Party and its left-wing media echo chamber that have been taken over not merely by liberals but by extremist liberals, most notably typified by President Barack Obama. They no longer have to rely on his past radical associations. They can point to his record of extremism in office across the board.
Obama's record is as radical as it gets (given the center-right beliefs of the electorate), and his policies have manifestly failed -- unarguably. It's imperative that Republicans make that case aggressively and unapologetically. If they do so, they'll have to spend much less time agonizing over whether they look extreme themselves.
Stop the navel gazing and read the tea leaves, GOP. Shine the spotlight on Obama and his unacceptable extremism.
David Limbaugh, brother of radio talk-show host Rush Limbaugh, is an expert in law and politics and author of new book Crimes Against Liberty, the definitive chronicle of Barack Obama's devastating term in office so far.