Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Yes America Has Gotten More Liberal

      This is a controversial claim I know. It does depend how you frame the question. I'm aware that there are the polls that conservatives love to site where the majority of Americans call themselves conservatives, the second largest go by "moderate" and liberals drag a distant third.

      However, what's in a name? What these terms mean is different for different people. Notice that these same conservatives also point to polls that claim that most Americans now consider themselves "prolife." But that can mean almost anything. Someone can consider themselves "prolife" and still support a woman's right to choose in many or most situations.

      Indeed, though I am prochoice I have to admit the choice of this phrase for the anti-abortion movement was inspired: after all, who would want to admit they are not prolife? It almost puts opponents in the position of having to answer when they stopped beating their grandmothers.

     Yet notice who suffered from the abortion issue this past election and who suffered it. The GOP lost two Senate seats based on prolife candidates making strange, immoderate comments that suggested that when it comes to abortion the GOP thinks "the fetus rules and women drool." They suffered so much from this-not just the individual candidates but the GOP field as a whole that they started claiming it was no fair to even mention abortion or birth control.

     If even bringing up the subject of reproductive rights is a huge liability for Republicans are we really a prolife country? Indeed, what's striking is to read Pat Buchanan. He diagnoses the GOP's problems well: on the national level the demographic shift is burying them. At some point even Texas will be a swing state.

     The GOP is face to face with the graveyard he admits. Yet what is his solution? He sees immigration reform as a dead-end as it won't halt the process but intensify it. In this he's more realistic than those who see immigration reform as GOP salvation. As he notes, most Latinos support liberal Democrat economic policies. This won't change even if the GOP does amnesty.

     Yet what is Buchanan's solution? He does a great job in diagnosing but has no answers in terms of prescription. No doubt he misses Nixon's New Majority of which he was one of the original architects, even coining the phrase New Majority-previously it was the Silent Majority.

     This highlights the entire problem. The New Majority is gone. Even putting aside the demographic shifts, whites themselves are a lot more liberal than the days of the New Majority. This is clearest on social issues. It's ironic that in the last election Romney was running a pure It's the economy, stupid,  campaign and was allergic to having to discuss social issues. Indeed, the entire GOP acted like any mention of things like birth control, pay equity for women, abortion. gay marriage, immigration rights, racial issues, etc. was must a demagogic distraction from the poor economy.

     Yet the whole crux of Nixon's New Majority was what he called the Social Issue. To Nixon's mind, the Economic Issue was the Democrats' bread and butter. A Republican couldn't win on the Economic Issue, at best it could neutralize it as Nixon did in 1972 with increased federal spending, tax cuts, and the wage-price freeze.

     The GOP's road to victory was paved with things like busing, law and order. values, patriotism Nixon was the one who actually started the White House prayer breakfasts.

     Today the last thing Republicans want to discuss are social issues. Again, the country is more liberal on things like gay marriage, women's rights, to say nothing of racial issues by a whole lot since 1970. They used to break for Republicans, now they break for the Democrats.

      On economic issues it's debatable where the country is. Yet there's little question that they sided with the President on tax cuts for the rich and Medicare. They are closer to the President than the GOP on the role of government.

      This more than anything is the problem for the GOP. I fully believe that something like Dawkin's memes exist. As Krugman puts it, we are a better country in a lot of ways than in 1970.

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