Amid all the election blather last year, pundits missed the larger, even historical story of 2012 — that America’s political tectonic plates seem to have shifted, which they do only every few decades. Conservative intransigence notwithstanding, we now live in a fundamentally different political environment than the one we had lived in since the 1980s. The America that has routinely been called “conservative” is conservative no longer.
To realize how significant a transformation this is, just think back about nine months ago. Despite a bruising primary campaign, Mitt Romney was not only a viable candidate for the presidency, he had at least a 50-50 shot to win. The Tea Party flexed its political muscles. Democrats were stymied. President Obama’s favorability ratings hovered in the mid-40s.