Skip to comments.The Biggest Missing Story in Politics - One Year Update
Posted on 08/20/2009 10:42:20 PM PDT by Scanian
August 25, 2008, just about one year ago, my article on those Battleground Polls -- which have routinely shown for many years that about sixty percent of Americans are "conservatives" -- stirred up quite a ruckus. If my analysis is right, then that would explain Democrat hysteria over the town hall meetings in America as the revelation that the Left is just a small minority of Americans who have insinuated themselves into the chokepoints of information, education, entertainment, and policy in American society.
Gallup, which has also polled the ideology of Americans, has presented the data in a much murkier way. While the Battleground Poll allows respondents six options -- "very conservative," "somewhat conservative," "moderate," "unsure," "somewhat liberal," and "very liberal," the Gallup asks (or reveals) only whether respondents identify themselves as "conservative," "moderate," or "liberal." Nevertheless, three Gallup Polls this summer have shown just how profoundly conservative Americans are. On June 15, for example, Gallup revealed that conservatives are the largest ideological group in America: 40% of us call ourselves conservative, 35% of us call ourselves moderates, and 21% of us call ourselves liberal. Moreover, Gallup shows that since 1992 conservatives have become an increasingly larger share of America.
Then, on July 6, Gallup revealed that Democrats were becoming more conservative, independents were becoming more conservative, and Republicans were becoming dramatically more conservative (a whopping 58% of Republicans said that they had become more conservative in the last few years.) Viewed from every angle, both Gallup and the Battleground poll identify conservatives as the largest ideological group in America and a group that is growing fast.
The most fascinating poll, however, was revealed by Gallup on August 14. The impact appears deliberately downplayed by Gallup. The title of the article simply states that the conservative ideology prevails
(Excerpt) Read more at americanthinker.com ...
Interesting. But it means conservatives are extremely impotent.
Only if you limit yourself to counting living voters.
So I ask again, who is this majority that put a socialist in the White house and gave him a socialist majority in Congress, the better to turn the US into a socialist nation? Are that many Americans that stupid?
Not necessarily. Fear of losing votes could make even the most left-wing politician cave into conservative policy. And vice versa.
...Are that many Americans that stupid?...
It is not inconceivable the data is flawed but we now have two studies and, even if the data is exaggerated toward the conclusion stated, it is nevertheless undeniable that there is a gross discrepancy between these data in the blue state/red state demarcation line. Why do people not vote their philosophical beliefs?
The author implies the following explanation:
If my analysis is right, then that would explain Democrat hysteria over the town hall meetings in America as the revelation that the Left is just a small minority of Americans who have insinuated themselves into the chokepoints of information, education, entertainment, and policy in American society.
I infer from this that the author is suggesting that the system is somehow distorted by Democrats who have taken over the "chokepoints of information" and somehow prevented the electorate from working its will. I have an instinctive negative reaction to any theory that smacks of conspiracy. Yet I agree with the idea that liberals do dominate the chokepoints of information, education, entertainment and policy in American society." Living in Europe, I see the domination here to be generic and not just isolated to chokepoints. I do not like conspiracy theories, yet it is undeniable that many a voter enters the polling booths a conservative and emerges a Democrat. So there is clearly some sort of a disconnect.
It might not be a conspiracy at all, it might be something so simple as the average voter simply voting his perceived interests which he identifies with the Democrats' program. For example, many elderly are conservative but just flat will not vote for any candidate who does not support their Social Security. The Democrats have done a marvelous job for generations demonizing Republicans as thieves of Social Security. It took Ronald Reagan to bring union members to see, at least for a season, their true as opposed to perceived interests. It might be nice to subscribe to the abstract ideal of limited government, but many a single mother is far more interested in feeding her children.
Americans pride themselves in their pragmatism. It is human nature to vote one's self-interest and rationalize away the philosophical inconsistencies. The Democrats are masters at pandering to the interests of one special interest group after another. They do not say to the elderly, throw away your lifelong beliefs in limited government and we will reward you with healthcare, they change the vocabulary, obscure the issue, and enable the rationalization.
In this process, Democrats are greatly aided by the intensity factor. That is, if an earmark builds an unneeded bikepath in a congressional district the benefit is focused but the cost is spread across the entire nation. No one feels the pain of this particular insult but they do understand that Senator Byrd is helping them pave every square inch of West Virginia.
I am not sure that the way to fight this is to stand against the Democrats parceling out goodies to focused and motivated groups with platitudes of conservative truths. The Democrats have been providing Americans with the vocabulary to rationalize away these truths for generations. The people will not say "I'm voting against my heritage and my grandchildren knowingly because I want to stick my snout in the public trough now," they will say, "I have paid my share into Social Security and I'm only getting back my contribution." In fact, the recipient will be getting back on average multiple times his contribution. But that does not matter, what matters is that the voter has been supplied the rationalization he needs to abandon conservative principles.
In Europe there are no conservative principles there is only a resort to ad hoc solutions to problems. The best way to expose this difference between America and Europe is to talk to my German neighbors about the right to bear arms. They see no philosophical undergirding for the right to bear arms. It does not matter to them that piece of paper assures us of that right in America. They want a pragmatic solution to violence and they think that denial of the right to bear arms provide that security. The matter of philosophical right does not enter into the equation. They need the evidence of only one massacre in one school to decide the philosophical issue.
In America, the Democrats have been so artful in providing ad hoc solutions to real or imagined problems that we have now gotten to the point where it is rare indeed when a solution which benefits intensely one group will be denied because it is ultra vires the Constitution. We simply don't think that way very much anymore. Even today, the argument over nationalized healthcare is not primarily a constitutional but a pragmatic argument. The right does not emphasize that to nationalize healthcare is unconstitutional, but argues that it is impracticable, costly, unfair, and, yes, big government. But I believe that the seniors in the town hall meetings are not primarily motivated by their love of small government but by their love of their Medicare entitlements.
That is not to say that there are not transcendental moments in history when an issue crystallizes a philosophy. The healthcare issue is coming very close to that now. Cap And Trade, perhaps as mortally dangerous to our economy as healthcare, has not aroused the people to the same degree. I believe that they simply do not see their ox being gored by Cap and Trade. But healthcare is a matter of intense personal interest as opposed to rhetorical, conservative notions of good and constitutional governance.
Will self-interest continue to trump patriotism as the advancing blue line the inexorable encroaches more and more of the map of America?
Some are. Others are not political junkies. They are just ignorant, no doubt due to their lack of curiousity and a drive by media with the same lack of curiousity.
The drive by media portrayed BHO as a pragmatic moderate.
The rats in Congress started moving to the right in 2006.
Large numbers of voters don't know the issues, and they decide their votes in the last days before an election.
Conservatives vote *for* Conservatives. There weren't any.
Most interesting analysis. I agree, self interest will make us rationalize any position. For me, I have a health care benefit that I do not wish to lose under any new system. I am a member of Obama and Congress’ health care plan, the FEHBP, the Federal Employee’s Health Benefit Program. I worked for it, I was entitled to take it into retirement, and I damn sure do not want my plan reduced to some cheap welfare plan for which they raise costs and reduce my benefits. Why should I not feel this way. Why should I have to apologize for this benefit that I earned from my working career.
I disagree nathanbedford. The last election was the Republicans’ to lose, and lose it they did. That is the entire story.
The Republican Party has been shedding Conservatives at a furious rate, ever since Reagan, especially (exponentially) since 2004, and now the majority stand outside of the party. That should tell you volumes.
Look at what an average Conservative family should have produced demographically (in voters)since 1980, and compare that to the numbers the Republicans have been able to garner. Conservatives are doing what they always do - They are sitting it out, and have been in larger numbers all along.
The “vote for us because we’re better than Democrats” shtick has worn thin. Boogey-man tactics will not suffice. Blame-shifting and phony promises will not do.
Put up a “Contract with America” espousing actual Conservatism, lead by actual Conservatives and watch how fast the tables turn.
Amen. That is exactly what I want to see. A new contract with America, based on workable conservative solutions. And true conservatives to implement it.
You NEVER have them asking that question with The Messiah at the helm, do you?
My belief is many of those who claim to be Independents are really Democrats and Liberals who simply do not want to admit their beliefs. The Right has done a good job in convincing people liberalism is NOT a good thing.
That is certainly not the "entire" story is not even part of the story because it is based on a false premise. There is no perspective from which a reasonable person could conclude that the last election was the Republicans' to lose. They were running after 12 years in power. They were running unavoidably on the record of a miserably unpopular president who had been conducting a miserably unpopular war.
The economy was in shambles and there was absolutely no confidence in the land that the president who had managed Hurricane Katrina could manage a worldwide economic crisis. The Republican brand had been disgraced by the Republicans, who, led by President Bush, engaged in unrestrained spending and so dishonored their legacy that the populace actually believed that that the Democrats were better on the issue than Republicans. Likewise on the issue of defense. Likewise on the war in Iraq. Likewise on Social Security, healthcare, the environment, and education and just about any other issue one can think of.
After eight years of unremitting fifth column work by the nation's media, unaccountably not countered by the administration which was apparently operating under a rope-a-dope strategy, the party was left beleaguered and virtually leaderless.
We nominated a candidate who was old, who had betrayed the base, who was not charismatic, who was wrong on immigration, wrong on energy, and right only on the war in Iraq and that was unpopular. He shrank from attacking his opponent and failed to support his running mate.
Under these circumstances when the Democrats nominated a "clean" African-American, the media simply would not countenance any result other than a victory for the Democrats. They generated what I described in the vanity before the election as an "Obama Pathology" which was an emotional state in which there was no hearing of any biographical fact or previous association of Barack Obama's which might betray him for the Manchurian Marxist he is.
One cannot conceive of a more difficult environment for the Republicans to win an election. If anything, it was the Democrats' to lose. But my main objection to this false premise is that it diverts our attention away from the true challenge which confronts conservatism today.
That is the reality of the demographics currently facing the Republican Party which I described in a reply of a few days ago. In politics demography is destiny. In America race is demography. It is a daunting landscape which Republicans face which might be overcome by strict adherence to conservative principles but that is by no means guaranteed. It certainly will not be overcome by glib assertions that we got the mechanics wrong. After this reply there are some other considerations which we ought to think about which suggests that our entire assumption that preaching conservatism is a winning combination might be wrong. That comes in the second reply. Here is the first reply:
Here is the money quote from the analysis that is significant because, although the other reasons cited by the author for the Republican predicament might well be true, the ones expressed in these two quoted paragraphs are the most important and, alas, largely irremediable:
A second problem is demographic. Obama took the presidency with the help of a coalition of the ascendant (the phrase is the analyst Ronald Brownsteins): young people, Hispanics, and other growing elements of American society. One of those elements is white voters with college or postgraduate degrees, among whom Obama prevailed handily. By contrast, McCain enjoyed a decisive plurality among -non-college-educated whites-a segment that accounted for 53 percent of the overall electorate as recently as 1992 but that now stands at only 39 percent.
A third long-term challenge is geographical. Over the past five presidential elections, Brownstein writes, Democrats have built a blue wall consisting of 18 states and the District of Columbia; these account for fully 90 percent of the electoral votes needed to win the presidency. In addition, Democrats control most of the Senate seats from those same 18 states, as well as more than 70 percent of the House seats, two-thirds of the governorships, every state House chamber, and all but two of the state Senates. In the Northeast, Republicans now hold just 18 percent of U.S. House seats and only one-seventh of U.S. Senate seats. Some parts of the country are nearly devoid of Republican -representation.
These two paragraphs are actually presented in the correct order. The geographical blue wall constructed by Democrats and described in the second paragraph which makes any Republican challenge for the White House or control of either house of Congress at best daunting and, at worst, virtually impossible, is caused by the demographics described in the first paragraph. In politics demography is destiny. The second consideration about demographics is race. In America all politics is not as Tip O'Neill said, "local," rather all politics is racial. If the Democrats can obtain 90% of the black vote, that yields 10% of the voters. If they can obtain 80% of the Hispanic vote, that yields them roughly 10% of the vote. If they can obtain 70 to 80% of the Jewish vote, that yields them to 2 1/2% of the vote. If they can obtain 80% of the gay vote, that yields them to 2 1/2% of the vote. The problem is that they can and do consistently obtain these percentages of these racial/ethnic groups. If one adds these groups up the percentage totals 25% on election morning before the Democrat candidate even gets out of bed.
Within a few years America will be a majority nonwhite nation. Those demographics are destiny for the Republican Party and those demographics tell us why as the author writes , "Democrats have built a blue wall consisting of 18 states and the District of Columbia; these account for fully 90 percent of the electoral votes needed to win the presidency. "
These are absolutely chilling statistics. If conservatives on these threads want to be serious about survival, nevermind revival, of their political philosophy we ought to direct our attention to coping with these realities. For example, all the problems of our Rinos are symptoms rather than causes of our current pitiable state. It is not something in the water in the blue wall states that makes Rinos of Republicans.
It is also true that if we put back all three legs of Ronald Reagan's Republican stool under the party, social conservatism, fiscal conservatism and national defense, the best we can hope for is to get to a point where if we have a tremendously appealing candidate and we make no mistakes we can eke out a national victory for the White House by counting the votes in Ohio or in some other key state. In other words, if we do everything perfectly we might win if the stars are in alignment and the Democrats make a few mistakes. Otherwise, the Democrat enjoy the bulge of demographics which will justify James Carville's prediction -unless something intervenes to change the demographic reality.
Parenthetically, it is appropriate here to note that Barack Obama is rapidly changing America into a country divided in twain with non whites voting against whites. Obama's latest Rasmussen strong approval versus strong disapproval ratings show that his position has deteriorated to the point where non-African-American voters strongly disapprove of him by a ratio of 2 to 1 (41 -- 22). It does not take an actuary or a bleeding heart liberal to understand that he is pushing America toward a house divided.
It does no good now to look over our shoulder, but the Bush years in which he allowed the infiltration into this country of so many illegal immigrants have probably spelled the eclipse of the Republican Party for decades.
So if we want to change the world we must burnish our conservative image, find a candidate with the charisma of Ronald Reagan, and work like hell. In the meantime, some really fine minds must undertake to turn the demographics around by devising a true message for Hispanics and women, especially single women.
The second dilemma which faces conservative is the assertion that preaching conservatism in its purest, pristine form will win the day. I'm not so sure this is true. One should consider the health care debate and ask oneself are the teabaggers and protesters in town hall meetings raising a conservative Banner or are they merely protecting their entitlements?
That is not to say that conservative arguments are not being employed in the protection of those entitlements, but their protection itself is essentially an anti-conservative position. A true conservative position on health care would be to repeal Medicare. But that is being advocated by no one.
Here is the second reply:
Dick Morris's thesis is that 15% and the largest single portion of the Democrat base, the elderly, are about to abandon the party fear of loss of healthcare services.
I think that he is largely right in this reading of the numbers. But let us be mindful of what is occurring here: His thesis says that the seniors are abandoning the Democrat party because the party which had given them Social Security under Roosevelt and had given them Medicare under Lyndon Johnson now threatens to take away the rice bowl. In effect, the parties have swapped positions. The Democrats are looking like Scrooge and the Republicans appear to be defending the right of seniors to keep their entitlement.
This is essentially an anomalous situation that will not long obtain. Either the Democrats will wise up and find a way between now and November 2010 to posture as the great entitlement givers or they will find a way, as they have every election cycle, to libel the Republicans as satanic princes who would take away their Social Security.
It is really by accident of overreaching and incompetence that the Democrats found themselves on the wrong end of this issue. But, for the Republican to continue to to profit from the issue, they must find a way of taking credit for defending an entitlement which many of us feel is unconstitutional and wrongheaded. This dilemma is personified in the figure of Mitt Romney who is taking flak from the Republican right because he created in Massachusetts an entitlement which they allege spends too much. Can the same Republicans be heard to say in the next breath that they are supporting senior citizens entitlement to healthcare?
The analogy is to a pole reversal in the Earth's magnetic field. Sooner or later the Democrats will find a way to give away more money to more interest groups which require Republicans to stand athwart the gravy train tracks shouting, "stop."
I believe the key to avoiding this trap perennially laid on by liberals to make conservatives look mean is to continue to pound on the issue of liberty. Republicans are defending the right to die in dignity with every right to an equal portion of the commonweal's assets devoted to their care. The Democrats find themselves in the position, unaccountably, in which they put on the green eye shades and insidiously deprive one class, the elderly, of equal share of society's assets to favor another class. That is the issue for us.
My father-in-law was a retired Army officer. And I mean the old fashioned army, the army of WWII and Korea. He spent time in a German POW camp, was on the staff of the base commander at several large posts. He got up every morning of his retired life and raised a flag on a flag pole he had put in his front yard. He would travel hundreds of miles to attend reunions of his old army units. He lived a regimented life that would do any old school army person proud. So far so good.
I had always just assumed, uh oh, he would consider Bill Clinton an enemy to everything he had fought for and believe in all his life. Clinton, who was a draft dodger, who had said in writing that he loathed the military, etc. Slam dunk Bush voter, no? But he was a Catholic from a suburb of Boston, came from a long line of Democrats and liberals and that outweighed even his army experience. Damned if he didn't vote TWICE for Clinton! Turns out his raising trumped his training.
I know this does nothing to explain much of anything, but it helps me to understand how Obama got elected.
Perhaps the conservative voters did not see a conservative option to choose from in the last election. After 8 years of disappointment with Republican socialist lite policies, as well as an erupting financial crisis, voters decided to try the other option. Another explanation is they were sending a message to the Republican party which doesn’t seem to been understood.
re: decide their votes in the last days before an election
And they base that decision on what they read and hear, and which comes down to simply that is liberal equals good, conservative means bad. Not only bad, but evil. There vote is based on feelings that have been planted by the spin of the press for months and months leading up to the vote.
The years of public education at the hands of mostly liberal teachers have primed the pump, and the press has topped off the mix to assure they will vote liberal.
Any Democratic constituent guilt over the paving of the planet will be assuaged by raising electric rates on evil businesses via cap and trade. One small correction though, Byrd's projects are mostly to tear down entire mountains to pave a small strip and plant tall fescue on the rest. But that is just a quibble about your otherwise excellent post.
“...who is this majority that put a socialist in the White house and gave him a socialist majority in Congress, the better to turn the US into a socialist nation? Are that many Americans that stupid?”
Oprah’s fans for one. The View’s audience for another.
There are a lot of middle class white women who worship Oprah and the women of the View. They trusted Oprah when she endorsed Obama. And those suburban women don’t really follow politics in a serious way or have strong opinions on issues.
But a lot of them are waking up. It’s no fun having to put your family on a strict budget or hearing that your kids might be put into a health care plan that is no better than the poor person’s plan up the road. Soccer moms want their kids to have the best (and that’s a good thing.) They have cool shoes and cool clothes and cool toys. They play sports and take lessons. What makes the democrats think that these moms want their kids to have poor-people health care?
I think they are waking up.