Here's what nobody seems to know: whether we're a liberal nation or a conservative one.
For a long time the conservatives convinced us that we were, largely, in our souls and pocketbooks, conservative (even though the Republicans have, in recent memory, not gotten more than 50% of the national vote). But then we elected a young black president and it seemed that somehow we'd been transformed into liberals.
When Wall Street collapsed, we became, suddenly, populists with dual right-wing/left-wing zeal and a rising conservative heartland backlash against statist control. Then there was the long health care summer with an inexplicable but seemingly growing revulsion to a national health care system.
And then there's Fox. For more than 10 years, Fox News, with its dedicated right-wing views, has been the only real success in television news. Partly because of our odd relationship to success (if you make money, you're mainstream), and partly because Fox was so mesmerizing, so attention-seeking and attention-getting, we came to believe--still believe--Americans are a pretty grotty right-wing bunch. As it happens, the Fox audience is, tops, only 2 million people, and yet, because of its flamboyance and success, it manages to convince the rest of the media that conservatism is the national mood.
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