In an interview with my Post colleague Dan Balz and me in Charlotte, Miliband argued that voters in the wealthy democracies are looking not for radical departures but for the new and better balance between government and the market that Third Wayers were trying to achieve. At the same time, he acknowledged that advocates of this approach needed to recognize the urgency of more effective oversight of the financial markets, one area where Obama has needed to move beyond Clinton’s policies.

At the election night gathering of the Dutch Labor Party in Amsterdam on Wednesday, I heard almost exactly the same argument from Godelieve van Heteren, a former Labor member of parliament. “There is now a new debate over what kind of regulation there should be of the market” — regulation, she said, aimed at being effective without “killing entrepreneurship.” Voters, she added, primarily yearn for “reasonableness.”

American conservatism’s glorification of the unfettered economy is thus out of step with the balanced approach that voters here and across the capitalist democracies are looking for. Obama and Clinton know this. It’s the central problem Romney faces, which is why he is flailing.