There is uncertainty among the world’s Progressives. Obama is deflated. He has become the president in American history with the least popular support at the end of his first year in office. The defeat in Massachusetts, an impregnable Democratic stronghold since 1952, was an unexpected blow that set off all alarms. In the confusion, the liberal media has already branded the majority, which asserted itself freely in the polls, as being "a mixture of liberal anarchists, racists and religious fanatics" (El País, 21 January 2010) — the usual topics of those who need to vent when the U.S. political reality does not accommodate their wishes. But Obama won Massachusetts by a 26-point difference just a year ago, and certainly that many votes came from those same people who are now labeled as racists and religious fanatics. Was it these racist and religious fanatics who also turned their backs on the Democratic candidates in the Virginia and New Jersey elections just two months ago? In a country with so many undesirable people, it is difficult to understand that Obama achieved such a complete victory during that historic November in 2008.
Another question comes to mind. What has happened to the new era that historians, scholars and journalists predicted would arrive with Obama’s victory, which has instead allowed the surprising resurrection of American conservativism? The answer may irritate many, but according to all the polls, America is a center-right nation. In 2008, coinciding with Obama’s landslide victory, only 24 percent of Americans declared themselves as progressive or leftist, compared with 37 percent who were moderate and 35 percent who had no qualms about being publicly identified as conservative. These results are similar to those that exist today, one year later, and the swing is barely significant since such surveys began decades ago. "Throughout this period of Democratic rise," Gerald Seib explained in The Wall Street Journal, "America was instead a centrist nation that simply had become fed up with Republican rule, largely because of concerns about the GOP's competence and its tone deafness. Voters' response was to shift parties more than ideologies.” This is the reality that is so difficult to accept for those who project their prejudices on the only nation in the world that is founded on one idea: that all men are born free and equal.
Four centuries after the Mayflower pilgrims first arrived on the shores of what today is precisely Massachusetts, the values of most American people have their roots in the fertile legacy of the Founding Fathers, staunch defenders of individual freedom, limited power, austere government and the right to the pursuit of happiness without abusive interferences. And so, since then, Americans retain a genetic mistrust of the expansion of public welfare under the pretext that always results in an increasingly bigger government, forced to be financed by higher taxes every day that reduce the margin of free will. Only this sort of understanding can account for the rejection of a universal and compulsory public health system, which progressive politicians are so intent on always introducing. It was Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882), the first American intellectual and writer, who would fully understand the tendency of the American spirit: "The only safe rule is found in the self-adjusting meter of demand and supply. Do not legislate. Meddle, and you snap the sinews with your sumptuary laws. Give no bounties: make equal laws: secure life and property, and you need not give alms. Open the doors of opportunity to talent and virtue, and they will do themselves justice, and property will not be in bad hands. In a free and just commonwealth, property rushes from the idle and imbecile, to the industrious, brave and persevering.”
During the past century, the fight for votes in democracies for the masses begat a regime in which the concept of government as benefactor, guardian and guarantor of the constitutional framework, within which individuals can look after themselves, was imposed. Democracy went from being a limit to the power to transform, to being an incentive for intervention and for an ever-increasing politicization. The United States was not immune to this shift, but has always remained closer than Europe to the conviction that each is master of his own fate. In Massachusetts, a highly symbolic place in United States history, Americans have turned a choice spot into a plebiscite within the first year of what was announced as a new era. And its voice has sounded clear: The American spirit is suspicious of those who try to substitute government for self-help. We'll see if Obama has listened.