America: Conservative & Progressive

I’ve noticed two pieces of data. Supposedly most Americans identify as conservative. The problem is that self-identified labels are very vague with many meanings. Demographics show that public opinion has become rather progressive.

Looking at US history, political labels are constantly changing meaning. Conservative at one time meant something along the lines of libertarianism or other similar ideologies. With the Southern Strategy, conservative became identified with “white culture” and the culture wars in general. This transitioned into neocon policies of being tough on crime along with being supportive of big military and big business. Now, conservative is regaining some populist connotations, but in America populism has always been connected with working class liberalism/progressivism/socialism.

To focus just on the younger generation, a clear future can be seen. They’re overall very liberal and progressive, but I think they might identify as more conservative/moderate than Boomers. I’m not sure though.

What I’m thinking is that we’re in the middle of an ideological shift in public opinion. In the last half of the 20th century, the entire political spectrum was shifting to the right. What that created was a rightwing corporatist government. Maybe in the first of the 21st century the entire political spectrum will be shifting back to the left again.

The one thing that seems very clear to me is that the culture wars as we knew them are over. Glenn Beck’s ranting against social justice Christians is proof that Christians themselves are becoming more interested in social justice.

People like Beck and Palin have helped to divide the conservative movement which has forced the extreme rightwingers into their own separate Tea Party. Some in the Tea Party would like to take over the GOP and make it even more rightwing, but I don’t think they’ll be successful. Instead, I think that Republican politicians will realize that they have to cater to a new base which isn’t exclusive to the shrinking demographic of white fundamentalists.

The GOP might become more moderate which means Democrats might become more strong in their opinions. This could explain why a nearly century old fight for universal healthcare has finally led to a bill being passed. Progressivism is returning. This fits the vision the younger generation has of government.

Demographics: Red States & Blue States

Here is a useful analysis of data:

US 50 States Map

Red States: Beneficiaries of Tax Revenue?
By Peahippo

Of the 31 states that GAIN wealth from the federal government, 25 (81%) voted for Bush. Of the remaining 17 states that LOSE wealth to the federal government, 12 (71%) voted for Kerry.

Of the 31 “gain” states, 25 (a different 81%) are “big gain” states, using the definition of obtaining $1.10 or more back in benefits for each $1.00 paid in taxes. Of those 25, Bush won 21 (84%), and Kerry 4 (16%).

Of the 17 “loss” states, 10 (59%) are “big loss” states, using the definition of obtaining $0.90 or less back in benefits for each $1.00 paid in taxes. Of those 10, Kerry won 9 (90%), and Bush 1 (10%).

One important factor about what these numbers imply is that when a candidate wins the rural vote, he tends to win the less populous states which are still large in area. These states tend to be net importers of government goods and services. One important item in this flow is highway funding. Larger states simply have more area to cross with federally-supported roads. Hence; the rural winner is likely to be backed by “gain” states.

Another important factor is that cities are sources of wealth simply by being hubs of monetary commerce, thus are likely to be the “loss” elements in the entire US government fiscal structure. Hence; the urban winner is likely to be backed by “loss” states.

(This same conclusion is stated in stronger terms at another website: http://fuckthesouth.com/)

Here it is shown more clearly:


Balance of Taxes Paid by States vs. Benefits Received from Federal Gvmt.
by “Welfare States” (dollars in millions) for the year 2001

states which
voted for Bush
Taxes sent
to Fed. Govt.
Benefits
Received
Surplus
vs.
Deficit
( + vs. – )
Alabama
22,437
33,205
+ 10,768
Alaska
4,200
6,685
+ 2,485
Arizona
30,057
32,392
+ 2,335
Arkansas
12,476
17,469
4,993
Colorado
33,898
26,618
- 7,280
Florida
110,294
107,395
- 2,899
Georgia
52,225
50,822
- 1,403
Idaho
6,683
7,977
+ 1,294
Indiana
36,733
34,630
- 2,103
Kansas
16,503
17,806
+ 1,303
Kentucky
20,509
27,210
+ 6,701
Louisiana
21,371
29,249
+ 7,878
Mississippi
12,094
21,023
+ 8,929
Missouri
33,718
41,452
+ 7,734
Montana
4,359
6,910
+ 2,551
Nebraska
10,415
11,469
+ 1,054
Nevada
15,014
10,631
- 4,383
North Carolina
47,579
47,748
+ 169
North Dakota
3,288
6,169
+ 2,881
Ohio
69,127
66,341
- 2,786
Oklahoma
16,667
23,790
+ 7,123
South Carolina
20,799
26,070
+ 5,271
South Dakota
4,293
6,095
+ 1,802
Tennessee
33,225
38,986
+ 5,761
Texas
134,809
121,571
- 13,238
Utah
11,358
12,139
+ 781
Virginia
52,858
74,802
+ 21,944
West Virginia
7,793
13,064
+ 5,271
Wyoming
3,583
3,824
+ 241
Net Welfare RECEIVED :
+ 71,868
Million $$$
by the red conservative states
which voted for Bush
states which
voted for Gore & Kerry
Taxes sent
to Fed. Govt.
Benefits
Received
Surplus
vs.
Deficit
( + vs – )
California
264,344
206,245
- 58,099
Connecticut
36,416
25,351
- 11,065
Delaware
5,750
4,632
- 1,118
Hawaii
6,903
10,185
+ 3,282
Illinois
96,686
71,520
- 25,166
Iowa
16,725
18,523
+ 1,798
Maine
6,904
8,643
+ 1,739
Maryland
41,779
50,966
+ 9,187
Massachusetts
59,779
48,188
- 11,591
Michigan
67,886
56,185
- 11,701
Minnesota
36,519
27,384
- 9,135
New Hampshire
10,315
7,006
- 3,309
New Jersey
75,115
51,657
- 23,458
New Mexico
8,487
17,156
+ 8,669
NEW YORK
166,554
126,990
- 39,564
Oregon
21,241
19,826
- 1,415
Pennsylvania
83,052
84,880
+ 1,828
Rhode Island
6,990
7,458
+ 468
Vermont
3,731
3,984
+ 253
Washington
49,651
40,233
- 9,418
Wisconsin
34,609
28,966
- 5,643
Net Welfare CONTRIBUTED :
-180,149
Million $$$
by the blue Liberal states
which voted for Democrat
Al Gore in 2000
( & John Kerry in 2004)


Several things interested me about this data.

The correlation makes a clear point about the political divide.  Why are rich Democrats so willing to give money to poor Republicans even when the latter do nothing but complain about it?  I think poor Republicans should send a thank you note to the rich Democrats.

Along with the correlation shown here, other correlations are equally interesting.  Rich Democratic states have higher education levels, lower economic disparity, lower divorce rates, greater support for civil rights (including gay rights), and on and on.  Our country was primarily founded (i.e., where the Founding Fathers lived and where the first settlements were located) in what are now Democratic states.  The Republican states didn’t even want to be a part of this country and many conservatives are still constantly threatening about secession (as if we would miss their draining away our economic wealth).

Anyways, two other issues seemed to be relevant here.

First, I’ve previously written about the Pew Typology Test and made note about the Disaffected demographic.  Basically, they’re the bigoted and uneducated rural poor, and so I assume they’re most highly concentrated in Republican states (they don’t vote much, but when they do a fairly high percentage of them vote Republican).  I suppose some of them would be attracted to the Tea Party, but they might be too cynical and disenfranchised even to protest.  They’re a very unhappy group that hates or otherwise mistrusts everyone who isn’t like them.

The main thing I wanted to point out is that they’re critical of the government and opposed to any program that helps the poor.  This seems odd since they’re poor with high unemployment rates.  Going by the above data, the Disaffecteds probably rely on government handouts more than most other demographics and the states they live in are entirely dependent on Federal funding.  Maybe they dislike the government for the very reason that they know they’re dependent on the government.  Likewise, maybe they hate liberal elites so much because their very entire lifestyle is dependent on the compassion and generosity of liberal elites.  It’s odd that they often vote Republican if and when they vote.  If Republican policies were actually implemented, the Disaffecteds would end up in even greater poverty.

What is strange is that the Disaffecteds, instead of empathizing, are especially critical of those even more poor than they are.  So, which demographic is even more poor?  According to Pew, it’s the Disadvantaged Democrats which includes high numbers of minorities.  They’re also disenchanted with government, but they believe that the government should help the poor.  It’s strange the different response to government considering that both Disaffecteds and Disadvantaged Democrats rely on government.  The former thinks the government is doing too much and the latter thinks the government isn’t doing enough.  Oddly, the Disaffecteds think that, if you got rid of all immigrants and stopped helping the poor, then all of their problems would be solved.  The Disaffecteds seem to think that the liberal elite are colluding with poor minorities to steal their jobs and control their lives, but it’s the failure of trickle down economics of the Republicans that caused their job loss and poverty (economic disparity has been overall increasing ever since the start of Reagonomics).

This brings me to my second point.  In states with high economic disparity, the poor vote Democrat (i.e., Disadvantaged Democrats) and the rich vote Republican (with the Disaffecteds partly aligning with the rich Republicans).  In states with low economic disparity, the poor and the rich both vote Democrat.  This makes me wonder why Democrats don’t win more often.  I’ve seen various research about how the poor minorities are the most disenfranchised and have low voting rates (partly because the justice system is biased and so more of them end up in prison, and I suppose there are other obstacles such as the lack of transporation).

I’d love to see how population numbers of each group relate to the actual numbes who vote in each group.  Also, I think it would help if I knew which groups tended to vote the same way.  For a quick breakdown, here is the basic population data (from this page):

  • Enterprisers: 9% of adult population, 10% of registered voters
  • Social Conservatives: 11% of adult population, 13% of registered voters
  • Pro-government Conservatives: 9% of adult population, 10% of registered voters
  • Upbeats: 11% of adult population, 13% of registered voters
  • Disaffecteds: 9% of adult population, 10% of registered voters
  • Liberals: 17% of adult population, 19% of registered voters
  • Conservative Democrats: 14% of adult population, 15% of registered voters
  • Disadvantaged Democrats: 10% of adult population, 10% of registered voters
  • Bystanders: 10% of adult population, 0% of registered voters

These categorizations seem to show that no particular political ideology is more disenfranchised than any other.  The Bystanders demographic is merely the catch-all category for those who either stopped caring or never did care (interestingly are no more prone towards Republican or Democrat), and they apparently they are fairly disenfranchised from organized religion as well (second only to Liberals in their lack of religiosity).

What I do notice is that Liberals are the largest by far of any group in terms of both adult population and registered voters.  The second largest are the Conservative Democrats.  Together, those two groups almost a third of the adult population and more than a third of the registered voters.

Looking at the actual opinions, many of the groups that aren’t specifically liberal support certain liberal policies and values.  Social Conservatives are cynical of business and moderately support environmental protection and other regulation.  Pro-government Conservatives don’t trust the marketplace and so support government regulation and social safety nets.  Upbeats are fairly Republican and yet have positive views of immigrants.  Only Enterprisers and Disaffecteds are apparently conservative on all issues (the odd alliance between rich business owners and the unemployed/underemployed poor which seems to be the bedrock of the conservative movement).  Furthermore, Conservative Democrats represent a large percentage of Democrats and so that disproves the argument that the Democratics are radical socialists/communists (Conservative Democrats identify by far more as Democrats than do Liberals).

It’s hard to know if these 2005 statistics still apply to present demographics, but there is an odd conclusion that can be made.  During the Bush administration, Republicans did seem to represent the largest demographic.  The Republican party has decreased in number, but I’m not sure what that says about the actual beliefs of the public.  More recent data shows the majority of the population leans towards moderate positions on Progressive values.  Even in this 2005 data, many of these Republicans hold values that aren’t what many people think of as conservative.  Americans, including conservatives, aren’t necessarily against big government and many are for government regulation and assistance.  And yet, in past decades, a few social wedge issues have being wielded successfully by the Republican party to sway voters towards the GOP.

Now, I’ll list some of the other specific demographic data:

  • Enterprisers:

WHO THEY ARE: Predominantly white (91%), male (76%) and financially well-off (62% have household incomes of at least $50,000, compared with 40% nationwide). Nearly half (46%) have a college degree, and 77% are married. Nearly a quarter (23%) are themselves military veterans. Only 10% are under age 30.

LIFESTYLE NOTES: 59% have a gun in the home; 53% trade stocks and bonds, and 30% are small business owners ­ all of which are the highest percentages among typology groups. 48% attend church weekly; 36% attend bible study or prayer group meetings.

  • Social Conservatives:

WHO THEY ARE: Predominantly white (91%), female (58%) and the oldest of all groups (average age is 52; 47% are 50 or older); nearly half live in the South. Most (53%) attend church weekly; 43% are white evangelical Protestants (double the national average of 21%).

LIFESTYLE NOTES: 56% have a gun in their home, and 51% attend Bible study groups.

  • Pro-government Conservatives:

WHO THEY ARE: Predominately female (62%) and relatively young; highest percentage of minority members of any Republican-leaning group (10% black, 12% Hispanic). Most (59%) have no more than a high school diploma. Poorer than other Republican groups; nearly half (49%) have household incomes of less than $30,000 (about on par with Disadvantaged Democrats). Nearly half (47%) are parents of children living at home; 42% live in the South.

LIFESTYLE NOTES: Most (52%) attend religious services at least weekly; nearly all describe religion as “very important” in their lives. Gun ownership is lower (36%) than in other GOP groups. Just 14% trade stocks and bonds in the market; 39% say someone in their home has faced unemployment in the past year.

  • Upbeats:

WHO THEY ARE: Relatively young (26% are under 30) and well-educated, Upbeats are among the wealthiest typology groups (39% have household incomes of $75,000 or more). The highest proportion of Catholics (30%) and white mainline Protestants (28%) of all groups, although fewer than half (46%) attend church weekly. Mostly white (87%), suburban, and married, they are evenly split between men and women.

LIFESTYLE NOTES: High rate of stock ownership (42%, 2nd after Enterprisers).

  • Disaffected:

WHO THEY ARE: Less educated (70% have attended no college, compared with 49% nationwide) and predominantly male (57%). While a majority (60%) leans Republican, three-in-ten are strict independents, triple the national rate. Disaffecteds live in all parts of the country, though somewhat more are from rural and suburban areas than urban.

LIFESTYLE NOTES: Somewhat higher percentages than the national average have a gun in the home, and report that someone in their house has been unemployed in the past year.

  • Liberals:

WHO THEY ARE: Most (62%) identify themselves as liberal. Predominantly white (83%), most highly educated group (49% have a college degree or more), and youngest group after Bystanders. Least religious group in typology: 43% report they seldom or never attend religious services; nearly a quarter (22%) are seculars. More than one-third never married (36%). Largest group residing in urban areas (42%) and in the western half the country (34%). Wealthiest Democratic group (41% earn at least $75,000).

LIFESTYLE NOTES: Largest group to have been born (or whose parents were born) outside of the U.S. or Canada (20%). Least likely to have a gun in the home (23%) or attend bible study or prayer group meetings (13%).

  • Conservative Democrats:

WHO THEY ARE: Older women and blacks make up a sizeable proportion of this group (27% and 30%, respectively). Somewhat less educated and poorer than the nation overall. Allegiance to the Democratic party is quite strong (51% describe themselves as “strong” Democrats) but fully 85% describe themselves as either conservative or moderate ideologically.

LIFESTYLE NOTES: 46% attend church at least once a week, 44% attend Bible study or prayer group meetings, a third (34%) have a gun in their house.

  • Disadvantaged Democrats:

WHO THEY ARE: Low average incomes (32% below $20,000 in household income); most (77%) often can’t make ends meet. Six-in-ten are female. Three-in-ten (32%) are black and 14% are Hispanic. Not very well educated, 67% have at most a high-school degree. Nearly half (47%) are parents of children living at home.

LIFESTYLE NOTES: Nearly a quarter (23%) report someone in their household is a member of a labor union, and 58% report that they or someone in the home has been unemployed in the past year­ both far larger proportions than in any other group. Only 27% have a gun in the home

  • Bystanders:

WHO THEY ARE: Young (39% are under age 30, average age is 37). Lowest education (24% have not finished high school). Less religious than any group other than Liberals (26% attend church weekly). Largely concentrated in the South and West, relatively few in the East and Midwest. One-in-five are Hispanic.

LIFESTYLE NOTES: About half (49%) say they often can’t make ends meet, fewer than among Pro-Government Conservatives, Disadvantaged Democrats or Disaffecteds; 30% attend bible groups or prayer meetings; 30% own a gun.

This does show some of the demographic dividing lines.  It’s amazing how much the Republican party is dominated by whites.  It’s also quite telling that the groups with the most conservative values are dominated by males.  It’s not exactly surprising.  White males are more highly represented as business owners and in the upper socio-economic classes, and so of course they’ll vote for their own interests.  However, that doesn’t explain why some groups such as the Disaffecteds vote against their own interests.  I thought it funny that Enterprisers (who are the prototypical rich white male conservatives) are the most avid watchers of Fox News (in fact, it’s their primary source of news).

There is so much ideological posturing and the media loves to portray everything in black and white terms.  It’s hard to determine what people actually believe.  It seems to me that liberalism is fairly moderate and mainstream.  Many liberal values and policies are supported by a majority of Americans, and the Democratic party represents the widest range of the American demographic.

If this is so, why do conservatives complain so much about radical liberalism?  Also, the weatlhiest states are Democratic and the most educated people are liberal… so, why doesn’t liberalism have more power than it seems to have?   Why can’t President Obama who campaigned on Progressive ideals, who was voted into office by a majority of voters, and has a majority support in Washington, why, why, why can’t even moderately liberal bills get passed?  Most Americans want health care reform with public option and the President who they voted for wants it (heck, even most doctors want it)… but apparently the minority of conservatives have enough power to block even the most popular of bills.

Glenn Beck: Left, Right?

I don’t know how accurate this description is of Glenn Beck.  My father who is a fan of Beck would, of course, vehemently disagree.

I haven’t followed Beck’s career closely, but I find the theory being presented is quite interesting.  If his political view changes so easily, it would explain why I’ve had a hard time trying to grasp who he is or where he is coming from.  His stance is more an attitude on life and society rather than an argument for a new form of government.  There is a sense that Beck is more clear about what he is against than what he is for.

The following is an excerpt from the beginning of an article that analyzes the complexity of positions and movements that have no clear ideological definition.  The author seems to be saying that this is a problem of much of politics at present.  Politics has become so polarized that it’s become a show and the conflict becomes more important than any underlying beliefs or principles.  This seems to relate to Sam Tanenhaus analysis of conservatism.

 
Salon.com
By Glenn Greenwald

Last night during his CBS interview with Katie Couric, Glenn Beck said he may have voted for Hillary Clinton and that “John McCain would have been worse for the country than Barack Obama.”  This comment predictably spawned confusion among some liberals and anger among some conservatives.  But even prior to that, there had been a palpable increase in the right-wing attacks on Beck — some motivated by professional competition for the incredibly lucrative industry of right-wing opinion-making, some due to understandable discomfort with his crazed and irresponsible rhetoric, but much of it the result of Beck’s growing deviation from GOP (and neoconservative) dogma.  Increasingly, there is great difficulty in understanding not only Beck’s political orientation but, even more so, the movement that has sprung up around him.  Within that confusion lies several important observations about our political culture, particularly the inability to process anything that does not fall comfortably into the conventional “left-right” dichotomy through which everything is understood.

Some of this confusion is attributable to the fact that Beck himself doesn’t really appear to have any actual, identifiable political beliefs; he just mutates into whatever is likely to draw the most attention for himself and whatever satisfies his emotional cravings of the moment.  Although he now parades around under a rhetorical banner of small-government liberty, anti-imperialism, and opposition to the merger of corporations and government (as exemplified by the Bush-sponsored Wall Street bailout), it wasn’t all that long ago that he was advocating exactly the opposite:  paying homage to the Patriot Act, defending the Wall Street bailout and arguing it should have been larger, and spouting standard neoconservative cartoon propaganda about The Global Islamo-Nazi Jihadists and all that it justifies.  Even the quasi-demented desire for a return to 9/12 — as though the country should be stuck permanently in a state of terrorism-induced trauma and righteous, nationalistic fury over an allegedly existential Enemy — is the precise antithesis of the war-opposing, neocon-hating views held by many libertarian and paleoconservative factions with which Beck has now associated himself.  Still other aspects of his ranting are obviously grounded in highly familiar, right-wing paranoia.

So it’s not surprising that confusion has arisen over someone who transformed overnight from a fairly typical Weekly Standard/Wall St. Journal Editorial Page/Bush-following polemicist into some sort of trans-partisan populist libertarian.  All of that, in turn, is colored by the powerful influences on him from the profoundly strange conspiratorial Mormonism pioneered by Cleon Skousen, as documented by the superb Salon seriesauthored by Alexander Zaitchik.  Ultimately, Beck himself is just a histrionic intellectual mess:  willing to latch onto any hysterical accusations and conspiracy theories that provide some momentary benefit, no matter how contradictory they might be from one moment to the next.  His fears, resentments and religious principles seem fixed, but not his political beliefs.  Like the establishment leadership of both political parties, he has no core political principles or fixed, identifiable ideology.

Blog of Interest: Chas Darwin’s charles’ log

I was checking out the blog titled charles’ log and the author is Chas Darwin.  On the about page, he wrote:

The author of this blog is a very active Democrat, and a retired IT professional.  He is a member of  Americans United for Separation of Church and State, The Center For Inquiry, the ACLU, and American Mensa.

It’s mostly a political blog with some social commentary.  Some of his posts fit in with my thinking at the moment.  Here are the posts that stood out to me:

http://charlog.wordpress.com/2009/09/22/how-will-the-growing-number-of-no-religion-voters-impact-politics/

http://charlog.wordpress.com/2009/09/21/conservative-radicals-and-the-politics-of-vengeance/

http://charlog.wordpress.com/2009/07/18/our-liberal-media/

http://charlog.wordpress.com/2009/05/31/empathy-vs-the-gop/

http://charlog.wordpress.com/2009/05/11/golly-gee-gop-guns-gods-and-gays/

http://charlog.wordpress.com/2009/04/18/gop-and-religious-extremists/

http://charlog.wordpress.com/2009/04/13/limbaughs-success-is-based-on/

http://charlog.wordpress.com/2009/04/04/anyone-can-tell-small-lies-it-takes-conservatives-to-tell-really-big-ones/

http://charlog.wordpress.com/2009/03/31/who-is-crying-now/

http://charlog.wordpress.com/2009/03/20/it-cant-happen-here/

http://charlog.wordpress.com/2009/03/18/democracy/

http://charlog.wordpress.com/2009/03/16/the-way-we-were/

http://charlog.wordpress.com/2009/03/10/the-ideologies-that-failed/

http://charlog.wordpress.com/2009/03/08/new-ideas-are-dangerous/

http://charlog.wordpress.com/2009/03/06/you-know-me-people-and-im-no-rush-limbaugh/

http://charlog.wordpress.com/2009/02/25/gop-bias-in-three-majors-1992-2004/

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