originally published at the Electric City Weblog

The claims were that this was a tipping point election, and those claims were not hyperbole. Barack Obama has, as promised, “transformed” America.

Fifty years ago—even 20 years ago—these election results would have been unthinkable. A largely failed President, hampered by deeply unpopular legislation and a stagnant economy, wins re-election against a highly qualified opponent with unblemished character and a distinguished record. An advocate of late term abortion, free contraceptives, and homosexual marriage who is (with some justification) accused of attacking religious freedom, prevails over the opposition of Catholics, Mormons, and Evangelicals united. The architect of impending national bankruptcy beats a celebrated problem-solver.

His winning issues? Spending even more. . . the inherent wickedness of his opponent’s (“sterling” admits Bill Clinton) business career. . . and federally-subsidized sex. Under pressure, Obama won by moving not to the center but further left.

The America that re-elected President Obama is clearly very different from the America that became history’s greatest nation. That was a nation marked by faith, hard work, courage, and independence. But it is clear that we have now been transformed.

Admittedly, it didn’t happen overnight. The share of our population dependent on government—which is to say, living off the producers—has been growing for many years. It includes not only families directly receiving government checks and subsidized whatever. It also includes those “business people” relying on corporate welfare. That share of the population was dangerously high before Obama took office. Obama was able to complete America’s transformation by raising it just a few percentage points.

Similarly, America’s level of economic freedom, as measured in annual indices, has been slipping for some time. The Obama administration and the 2009-11 Congress just drove it down a few more notches. And America’s commitment to constitutional limited government has long been eroding; the Obama administration merely demolished the remains.

We are likely to remain transformed. True, there could be a brave fiscal response from the House of Representatives, which remains Republican—something like responding to the deficit and the dependency by totally defunding or blockgranting some big federal programs. But don’t hope too strongly for this: GOP Congressmen have been muffing those sorts of opportunities for two decades. Or there could be a constitutional response from the states—which actually trended Republican in this election because the stupid people didn’t get that far down the ballot. But that would require an Article V convention. Which is possible, but hasn’t been done before.

Otherwise, America will stay transformed. Our country will be something qualitatively different than it ever has been.

Life for our children and grandchildren will be less like the exhilarating experience of previous American generations—and more like living in Britain or, perhaps, in modern Mexico. Unless, of course, our children and grandchildren do what our own ancestors did when they found life gray and constricted: Go somewhere else.

Rob Natelson