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.