America’s Hyper-Individualism: a tale of deception & immorality

American Exceptionalism Subsides
The American-Western European Values Gap

In America, religion is considered important.

However, this religiosity is more about individual salvation than helping those in need.

From this individualistic worldview, Americans believe individuals control their own lives.

This individualism is extended to national isolationism where we believe in only helping our own country.

This individualism goes beyond moral principles and touches on a sense of selfish entitlement to interfere with others, even though we show little desire to actually help them.

American’s love individualism in all forms and have faith that individuals can solve their own problems (a convenient rationalization for a country that causes so much misery around the world and allows so much misery to continue in its own borders). Despite this individualism, actual data shows individual Americans have one of the lowest rates of social mobility in the developed world.

Liberalism: Label vs Reality (analysis of data)

I’ve looked at this poll before but was just browsing it now to check out again the liberal data.

http://www.people-press.org/files/2011/05/Political-Typology-Detailed-Tables.pdf

In the 2005 Pew poll, the demographic was just called ‘Liberals’. In this 2011 Pew poll, the demographic is called ‘Solid Liberals’. So, I don’t know if it is speaking about the exact same demographic segment of the population. Pew changes the demographic groupings as the data changes. In the new ‘Solid Liberals’ demographic there is only 23% Independents whereas in the previous ‘Liberals’ demographic there was almost 1/2 Independents. Of those Indpendents, they didn’t ask how many self-identified as liberal or something else. Among ‘Solid Liberals’ in general, only 60% self-identified as ‘liberal’ while 31% self-identified as ‘moderate’ and 9% self-identified as ‘conservative’.

What does ‘liberal’ even mean when slightly less than 1/2 of supposed ‘liberals’ don’t self-identify as ‘liberal’? This goes to the heart of the American public’s confusion about ideologies and labels. Given a choice between the two, most Americans self-identify as ‘conservative’. However, when asked about specific issues, most Americans support many liberal positions on key issues.

– – –

I’ve been having some discussions with a left-winger recently. I’ve noticed that he, like many other left-wingers, often are highly critical of liberals. Left-wingers, like right-wingers, often see liberals and Democrats as essentially the same thing and so they assume the policies of the Democratic establishment are supported by most liberals.

It’s not surprising that there is a conflict here, but it demonstrates a number of things. The right is incorrect in assuming liberals are the same thing as left-wingers, but left-wingers are also incorrect in conflating liberals with Democrats. One set of data I saw shows a third of Independents self-identify as liberals. So, there is this undescribed middleground of Independent liberals who aren’t left-wingers and aren’t Democrats. No one represents these independent liberals in politics and the media mostly ignores them except when they protest. Many of the OWS protesters (and activists in general) are probably independent liberals.

– – –

The problem liberals face is related to their love of compromise which is just an aspect of their love of democracy. Liberals genuinely believe in democracy. Even many if not most left-wingers are highly suspicious of democracy for various reasons. It’s not that liberals don’t see the corruption, but it’s just that liberals have a strong sense of faith and vision about what democracy could be.

This is the challenge. Liberals are the only demographic that has majority support for compromise, but compromise only works if everyone supports it (at least to some minimal extent). All other demographics see compromise as political weakness and/or unprincipled capitulation. Liberal independents are in the toughest spot of all because they see that this is true of the Democratic establishment, but the Democrats don’t represent them or their ideal of compromise. The only place we now see compromise being demonstrated in the grassroots democratic sense is in the OWS protests. Liberal independents know that compromise is possible if the public is willing, but all the other groups so often seem bound and determined to prove compromise doesn’t work by undermining any effort to accomplish it.

What independent liberals understand is that you either support democracy or you don’t. There is no way to have democracy without compromise. If left-wingers and right-wingers don’t trust democracy and compromise, I just wish they would be honest about it and admit that is what they believe. Instead, everyone pretends to believe in democracy because it’s considered politically incorrect to not believe in it, but few actually do believe in it to the extent that independent liberals believe in it. Too often political cynicism rules both mainstream and alternative political discussion.

– – –

Here is another way to look at it. I noticed this analysis of poll data:

http://www.opednews.com/Diary/More-Americans-Self-Identi-by-Thomas-Farrell-110301-401.html

“But the Gallup survey of self-identification of ideology shows that more Americans self-identify as moderates and liberals than as conservatives. Most Americans do not self-identify as conservatives.”

Given a choice between the three, the data I’ve seen shows most Americans self-identify as moderates. So, what is a moderate? They are essentially those who tend toward centrism or at least away from the extreme wings. Considering that, where is the center in American politics? I’ve analyzed this before (US Demographics & Increasing Progressivism):

https://benjamindavidsteele.wordpress.com/2010/01/23/us-demographics-increasing-progressivism/

What I discovered was that the center isn’t conservative and certainly is moving away from conservatism on many issues. So, the moderate/center is shifting to the left. This is obvious when you look at the increasing liberalism of the young and the growing left-leaning demographics such as minorities. Here is my insight. Decades of Cold War rhetoric have brainwashed the American public into believing liberals and left-wingers are the same thing, i.e., Commies. This is the reason why among even Solid Liberals 31% can identify as moderates and 9% identify as conservatives. When considering the normal definition of liberal (minus the term itself), most Americans probably equate that with the ‘moderate’ label. As such, it’s quite likely that many if not most moderates are liberal on a lot of issues.

– – –

It’s kind of interesting to look back at some data from more than a decade ago. This survey broke up the Democrats into 5 groups including a groups labeled as ‘Libertarian Democrats’.

http://www.progress.org/freedom/wpdesc.html

I imagine that some independent liberals might be attracted to left-libertarianism. Actually, I don’t need to imagine. As an independent liberal, I’m attracted to left-libertarianism such as that of Chomsky with his support of social democracy and a gradualist vision of changing society toward increasing grassroots democracy (Chomsky apparently being on the moderate liberal end of left-wing ideology).

– – –

I was looking further at the Pew data. There is another interesting group: Post-Moderns. They are considered Independents and they are the only group to have the majority self-identify as moderates. One would assume, therefore, that they wouldn’t have any bias toward either party. But one would be wrong in that assumption.

Post-Moderns are 62% Independents, 26% Democrats and 2% Republicans. Of the Independents, 19% has no lean, 58% lean to the Democratic Party and 23% lean to the Republican Party. They favor Democrats over Republicans on almost every question, including reelecting Obama. Also, they listen to Fox News less than the average Democrat and listen to NPR at almost the same rate as the average Democrat. They are second only to Solid Liberals in their reading of The New York Times and their watching the Daily Show. They generally seem closest to Solid Liberals on most issues. They are strongly socially liberal. They have the strongest, although qualified, support of the government. They’d prefer it to be smaller, but they see a role for government in many social issues.

Post-Moderns are the only demographic with a majority of moderates which means they are the clearest indicator we have about where the center is right now in US politics. These moderates are more liberal than not. So, the majority of Post-Moderns identifies as moderate even as the majority also supports many liberal positions and policies.

– – –

Here is the reason why the Democratic Party has never been controlled by liberals and especially not by left-wingers.

http://smirkingchimp.com/thread/bob-burnett/37872/one-two-three-what-are-liberals-fighting-for

“The Pew Research poll notes a fundamental difference between “solid Liberals” and the other two groups that lean Democratic — “Hard-pressed Democrats” and “New coalition Democrats”: “both of these last two groups are highly religious and socially conservative.” To the extent that cultural issues — such as abortion and homosexuality — dominate political discourse, these groups can be peeled away from the Democratic bloc to vote Republican. In his classic, What’s the Matter With Kansas? journalist Tom Frank detailed how Republicans redirect economic discontent to explosive cultural issues. In 2012, “moral purity” will be a major Republican theme — particularly if messianic Texas Governor Rick Perry becomes the GOP candidate. The Liberal challenge is to ensure that jobs and economic fairness become the dominant political themes, not “How can we make the US a Christian nation?””

– – –

Here is some data from 2004 which I suspect might be even more true in 2011. The article notes that in 2000 the Independents were evenly split between the two parties but by 2004 they were leaning Democratic and liberal. If this is a trend that fits the other leftward trends, this will continue into the near future as OWS seems to demonstrate.

http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m4021/is_3_26/ai_114558708/

“The bad news for conservatives is that a majority of independents line up on the liberal-to-moderate side of the ideological spectrum. Twenty-one percent of independents in the Zogby poll described themselves as liberal or progressive, while 37 percent called themselves moderates. In contrast, 30 percent of independents describe their politics as conservative, with only 4 percent calling themselves “very conservative” or libertarian.

“Zogby asserts that the polls indicate independents are trending more liberal in this election year as opposed to 2000. For example, fully 70 percent of independents believe the federal government should play a major role in protecting the environment, a traditionally Democratic concern. “The environment is a Democratic ace in the hole this year,” Zogby says.

“Meanwhile, 82 percent of independents want the federal government to play a major role in protecting individual freedom, suggesting a backlash against the Patriot Act and other attempts by the Bush administration to change the traditional balance between national security and individual liberty. Sixty-two percent feel the government should help ensure that all citizens have economic opportunities, while 60 percent want a dominant role by the federal government in providing social programs to help the needy.

“The liberal bias of independents contrasts sharply with the other elections in which their vote has proved critical. In the 1980 election, blue-collar workers deserted Jimmy Carter and the Democrats to vote Ronald Reagan into office. And in the 1990s, Bill Clinton infuriated traditional liberals but won the presidency twice by appealing to the socially moderate, fiscally conservative instincts of suburban soccer moms. Third party candidates – John Anderson in 1980, Ross Perot in 1992 and Ralph Nader in 2000 – attracted disaffected voters who saw no real difference between Republicans and Democrats.”

– – –

I was amused that the Wall Street Journal is, of course, trying to dismiss the Occupy movement.

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052970204479504576637082965745362.html

This interested me for two reasons:

First, the Wall Street Journal recently had an article which proves how much corruption exists in many big businesses and how this hurts the average person.

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424053111903532804576566862041674794.html

That article gives the objective evidence supporting the very same reasons for why people are protesting on Wall Street. The article also helps to explain why most Americans, including most white working class Americans, now support the Occupy movement. When I heard the author of the second article interviewed on Coast to Coast AM (one of the most listened to talk shows in America and in the world), I knew that this was hitting to the heart of the outrage that is growing in America and that heart of outrage is definitely not directed at the left.

Second, I was thinking that maybe the Wall Street Journal should look closer at the data showing what the protesters believe and what Americans believe.

http://www.quinnipiac.edu/x1302.xml?ReleaseID=1662

“By a 67 – 23 percent margin, New York City voters agree with the views of the Wall Street protesters and say 87 – 10 percent that it is “okay that they are protesting,” according to a Quinnipiac University poll released today.

“Agreeing with the protesters views are Democrats 81 – 11 percent and independent voters 58 – 30 percent, while Republicans disagree 58 – 35 percent, the independent Quinnipiac (KWIN-uh-pe-ack) University poll finds. Even Republicans, however, agree 73 – 23 percent with the protesters right to be there.

“New York City voters say 72 – 24 percent, including 52 – 41 percent among Republicans, that if the protesters obey the law, they can stay as long as they wish. “A total of 72 percent of voters say they understand the protesters’ views “very well” or “fairly well,” with 17 percent who say “not too well” and 10 percent who say “not well at all.”

[ . . . ] “Asked who is to blame for the current state of the nation’s economy;

  • 37 percent of New York City voters blame the administration of former President George W. Bush;
  • 21 percent blame Wall Street and financial institutions;
  • 18 percent blame Congress;
  • 11 percent blame President Barack Obama.

“New York City voters support 61 – 28 percent an extension of the state’s so-called ‘Millionaire’s Tax.’ Even Republicans support the extension 55 – 38 percent.

“Voters also support 73 – 19 percent, including 48 – 40 percent among Republicans, tougher government regulation of banks and Wall Street firms.”

– – –

Considering all of this, it blows my mind that 9% of so-called ‘Solid Liberals’ self-identify as ‘conservative’. Pew defines ‘Solid Liberals’ as being liberal across the board, fiscally and socially liberal on most if not all issues. Essentially, ‘Solid Liberals’ are as liberal as you can be without becoming an outright communist.

How on God’s green earth could such a person ever be so confused as to think they are a conservative? What do these 9% of conservative ‘Solid Liberals’ think that ‘conservative’ means? What kind of conservatism can include liberalism to such an extent? What could possibly be subjectively experienced as conservative despite appearing liberal by all objective measures?

Consider the seemingly opposite Pew demographic which is labeled ‘Staunch Conservatives’ (basically, conservative across the board). Are there 9% of ‘Staunch Conservatives’ who self-identify as ‘liberal’? Of course not, although interestingly 3% do.

Compare also how many self-identify as ‘moderate’: 31% of ‘Solid Liberals’ identify as moderate and only 8% of ‘Staunch Conservatives’ identify as moderate. ‘Staunch Conservatives’ are as partisan as they come with %100 that lean Republican (0% that lean Democratic, 0% with no lean). On the other hand, ‘Solid Liberals’ have 1% who lean Republican and 3% with no lean; that might seem like minor percentages but that means 1 in 100 ‘Solid Liberals’ are drawn toward the Republican Party and 3 in 100 are genuinely independent.

– – –

Corey Robin sees conservatives as right-wing counter-revolutionaries in reaction to left-wing revolutionaries (with, from my own understanding/speculations, liberals as moderates in the middle moderating between the two extremes). Many Americans identify as strong conservatives but few identify as strong liberals. To many Americans (who aren’t and/or don’t self-identify as ‘liberal’): being a liberal automatically means being a left-winger; but being a conservative doesn’t automatically mean being a right-winger. Thus, from this perspective: ‘liberal’ already implies ‘strong liberal’; and so, if you see yourself as a ‘weak liberal’, you’d probably identify as a ‘moderate’.

Conservatives see bias in that the term ‘right-wing’ is, supposedly according to one study, mentioned often in the media whereas ‘left-wing’ is mentioned less often; but I take this as further evidence of how ‘liberal’ has come to mean ‘left-wing’ for the mainstream media (the two used interchangeably). Certainly, conservatives (along with many moderates and even some liberals) think ‘liberal’ and ‘left-wing’ mean the same thing. It seems that most Americans have come to accept this conflation considering that many Americans can hold liberal views while not perceiving themselves as being liberal or at least refusing to accept such a label.

As a side note, I found this interesting description by Rochelle Gurstein (in “The Look of Time”):

http://www.tnr.com/article/politics/76822/the-look-time

““A man of the past”—recently I had been re-reading John Stuart Mill’s essay, “The Spirit of the Age” (1831), and was taken by the peculiar way he employed that phrase. The essay is about what it is like to live in an age of “change,” what it was doing to people, existentially speaking. Mill thought that “men are then divided, into those who are still what they were, and those who have changed.” I expected the first group to be those who have been left behind—the superannuated—and the second to be the men of progress. But Mill thought it was the opposite: those who embrace change are “men of the present age”; by changing with the times they stay the same. Those who do not change with the times are changed into “men of the past.” To the former, “the spirit of the age is a subject of exultation; to the latter, of terror.” It then occurred to me how, because of the incessant speed of the Internet, no one is able to change fast enough to remain in the present; we were all being turned into “men of the past.””

Gurstein wasn’t directly speaking about conservatives, but it would seem that her view here fits into the context of Robin’s reactionary conservative. Even if we all now may be “men of the past” to some extent, only conservatives have fully taken on the role of being “men of the past”. As Gurstein makes clear, “men of the past” are a modern invention just like the conservative movement. We moderns have become so historically self-conscious that we are able to imagine a past absolutely distinct from the present, but in the earlier times a traditionalist assumed the past was like the present, a continuum. Traditionalists during traditional times are, therefore, always men of the present.

Since conservatives are reactionary, you must judge them by the social and historical context of their reaction. Thatcher and Reagan were reacting to one situation and conservatives now are reacting to another situation. Yes, in reaction, conservatives push further and further away from the Left even as they adapt to new forms of liberalism. It doesn’t matter that conservatives become increasingly radically anti-liberal over time (especially as society increasingly embraces progressivism). It’s the reaction against liberalism (more specifically, the far left) that defines conservatives and not how their views appear relative to conservatives at a later time.

The conservative is in an interesting position. Robin points out that even someone like Buckley admits he would probably have become something different if he had come of age at a later time. A conservative isn’t a traditionalist in the way a modern Protestant fundamentalist isn’t a traditional pre-Enlighenment Catholic. A fundamentalist is creating something new with each generation because they are constantly reacting to new social changes and new scientific knowledge.

Going by Gurstein’s conclusion, maybe it is impossible or very difficult for any person to be a traditionalist in the modern world. Maybe conservatives have fully or nearly replaced traditionalists altogether. My thought was that traditionalists and conservatives might be the same in terms of psychological predispositions. Research shows that conservatives have a larger amygdala which processes fear responses and research also shows conservatives have a stronger disgust response to that which is abnormal/unexpected (whereas the liberal tends to respond with curiosity). In a traditional society, this fear/disgust predisposition would manifest as traditionalism because there wouldn’t be any major left-wing progressive movements to react against. However, in a non-traditional society, this fear/disgust response is provoked into a state of hypersensitivity and constant activity (i.e., reaction). So, a reactionary conservative may seem like an unnatural response, but maybe it is just a natural response to unnatural conditions (possibly not dissimilar to how overcrowding rats causes them to take on anti-social behavior). Would-be traditionalists can’t get their bearings in a non-traditional society and so they become a much more aggressive political activist.

– – –

Now here is some really interesting info:

http://www.princeton.edu/csdp/events/Hajnal050406/Hajnal050406.pdf

“The second and more interesting conclusion is that Independents also tend to be extremists. On two of the three issue publics we examine, the results closely match our expectations. As we predicted, the more liberal one’s views on the environment and the stronger one’s support of women’s equality, the more likely one is to identify as Independent or nonpartisan. 14 In each case the magnitude of the effects is meaningful if not dramatic. All else equal, those who were the most supportive of environmental spending were 5 percent more likely to be Independent than those who believe we are already spending too much on the environment. Similarly, white Americans who strongly favor efforts to ensure women’s rights were 5 percent more likely to identify as Independent or nonpartisan than those were least in favor of government action on women’s equality. On two of the major social movements in America, those who hold strong views on the left are particularly apt to not identify with a major political party. This suggests that there really are issue publics who care enough about a particular issue to reject both parties if neither party actively endorses their issue agenda.

“In Table 5.1 we also looked at how views on religious/social issues affected partisanship. Since at least some observers would claim that the Republican Party has actively taken up the cause of the Christian right by doing things like fighting gay rights, attempting to ban or limit abortions, and generally espousing religion in public affairs, there is less reason to expect a positive relationship between extremist views on this issue and Independence – and possibly some reason to expect a negative relationship between moral conservatism and Independence.”

“The results in Table 5.1 are informative (if not fully conclusive). What is clear from Table 5.1 is that moral conservatism does not lead to greater Independence and nonpartisanship. The negative coefficient for views on abortion indicates that those on the far right on this issue are not more prone to choose Independence. What is less clear is whether liberals or those on the far left are especially apt to end up not identifying as partisans. The fact that the coefficient is negative and almost significant seems to imply that the more liberal one’s views on abortion, the more likely one is to identify as Independent.”

Those with strong liberal views are the most Independent/nonpartisan… while having strong conservative views doesn’t lead to an increase of being Independent/nonpartisan. Therefore, it isn’t about how strongly held are one’s political views but rather how liberal. It immediately jumps out to me how this data relates to the polling data showing only liberals have majority support for compromise. Maybe there is a direct correlation (or possibly even a causal link) between the three factors of liberalism, compromise, and Independence/nonpartisanship. Also, consider the two other factors I mentioned earlier of strong liberals (“Solid Liberals”) apparently being more open to that which is outside of liberalism (“Solid Liberals” having higher rates than “Staunch Conservatives” of self-identified moderates and such).

This makes me rethink a bit. Are those with liberal views misinformed and confused when they don’t identify as ‘liberal’? Or is it that the psychological ‘openness’ of liberal-minded people gives them more freedom in how they choose to identify themselves? Considering the nearly 1 in 10 liberals identifying as ‘conservative’, are they in some psychological sense seeking compromise by trying to adapt their own beliefs and values to the conservative worldview?

– – –

Here are my last thoughts.

Both liberalism and conservativism are creations of modern society, but both are built on natural predispositions that evolved in human nature long before modern society (probably long before all of civilization). Humanity is still experimenting with all of this and has yet to find a balance.

From a liberal perspective, what seems obvious to me is that all of us moderns are ‘liberals’ (relative to the past). The liberal is the modern “man of the present” (the man of our age) or at least that is what they liberal strives to be, and so the liberal has in some ways taken the place of the traditionalist (playing the role of conserving institutions in a changing world and conserving cultures in a multicultural world). The reactionary conservative has left behind the role of the traditionalist and maybe the reason conservatives attack liberals so harshly is because liberals have taken up that traditionalist role (so, they criticize liberals as weak as they’ve criticized traditionalists as weak).

However, it wasn’t the liberal who caused the conservative to leave behind the role of the traditionalists. The liberal merely picked up the role because the liberal realized it was a necessary role that someone had to play. No, the real reason the conservative left behind the role of traditionalist for the role of reactionary was because of the rise of the left-winger. It is left-wingers who are “men of the future”, and conservatives as the penultimate “men of the past” have adopted the left-wing ideologies and tactics of the past. Traditionalism is no defense against progressivism, both liberals and conservatives realizing this. All traditionalism can do is moderate the changes happening in the present by seeking balance (through compromise) between the push/pull of the left-wing revolutionaries and the right-wing counter-revolutionaries.

The challenge for the liberal is that the role of traditionalist doesn’t really fit the liberal worldview. Nonetheless, the liberal fears modern liberal society falling apart and all the liberal gains being lost. Someone has to compromise… and so the liberal is in a tough spot, not able to be fully himself. This is particularly true when reactionary conservatives become dominant and left-wingers become weak… because then liberals become the necessary representatives of left-wing revolution/progressivism (at least in the minds of reactionary conservatives who always need an enemy to fight against, even if that requires them to invent an enemy). It’s only when left-wing ideologies are ascendant that the liberal can have some breathing room. Liberals don’t want to fight conservatives in the way conservatives want to fight. It’s only left-wingers who can fulfill this position of worthy enemy.

This is why liberals have struggled so much and been so confused in recent decades. The left-wing was in constant retreat which left liberals to use all of their strength just in trying to hold the center, to keep it from shifting too far right. This makes me wonder. Where did the left-wingers go? It’s not as if they all disappeared. It’s just that left-wingers became divided in sectarianism while also getting lost in abstract theorizing and so their activism became impotent. Liberals fought as well as they could without much organized support from left-wingers, but there was only so much liberals could do alone. As time went on, liberals weren’t just fighting conservatives but often fighting left-wingers as well. Many liberals turned to the Democratic Party as their last refuge because they had no where else to turn (left-wingers, of course, interpreting this as selling out). Liberals who chose to remain independent became lonely fighters or else apathetic recluses. Independent liberals, like left-wingers, have felt abandoned by the ‘liberal’ establishment (their liberalism being rather questionable from the stand point of the independent liberal). Left-wingers in particular see that it was the ‘liberal’ establishment that left them rather than left-wingers having abandoned liberals. Either way, a splintering happened on the left.

– – –

In conclusion, that is how we ended up in this situation: Where most of the population supports many liberal positions even as they don’t support the liberal label. Where even the most liberal of liberals are either ignorant about what liberalism means or wary of being identified as such. And where the entire left is disempowered and often divided against itself.

On a positive note: It’s only during such times of tumult and uncertainty that genuine progressive change happens… because it’s only when conservatives have dominated so forcefully that the fires of the left-leaning imagination is stoked to such an extent that new visions of society can form. The furnace for that imagination is grassroots populism of the variety seen right now with the Occupy movement. Whether or not people understand liberalism or like to be labeled that way, the protest movement that has developed is pure liberalism in action.

GOP Base vs Traditional Conservatives

There is some interesting data from Pew. I had looked at this data many times before, but in looking at it again I noticed a distinction within the conservative demographics which I hadn’t noticed previously. This distinction seems to at least partly explain why many moderate conservatives have left the GOP in recent years and why some of the most strongest conservatives are also the most critical of other conservatives.

What is interesting is which specific demographics most strongly support torture and the Patriot Act. It’s most particularly clear with the latter. Conservative demographic groups (Enterprisers, Social Conservatives, & Pro-Govt Conservatives) have the strongest support for the Patriot Act. That isn’t surprising, but what is surprising is which specific conservative demographic groups have majority support (Enterprisers & Social Conservatives) and which don’t (Pro-Govt Conservatives).

Let me explain.

Enterprisers are essentially neo-cons, neo-liberals, and (neo-) libertarians which demographically translates as mostly rich white males who have partisan loyalty to the GOP and who are the most loyal viewers of Fox News. Social Conservatives are essentially the fundamentalists and rightwingers in general which demographically translates as older whites who represent the other big chunk of Republican voters. Both groups are known to criticize the government for different reasons and yet both love the idea of a strong military (the military, rather than democracy, being the symbol of their ideal government). They may use pro-constitutional rhetoric in their criticizing the government, but ultimately they don’t take the constitution all that seriously when it comes to protecting human rights and freedom for all.

It’s telling that Pro-Govt Conservatives are the one conservative demographic group that doesn’t have majority support for the Patriot Act. That is a very telling detail. To be a conservative who actually believes in the government serving a positive function means to be a conservative who also genuinely believes in strictly adhering to the constitution and to the moral vision upon which this country was founded. This is the group that I consider as being ‘real’ conservatives in that they are more moderate and traditional (i.e., they believe in conserving social institutions such as government) compared to the radicalized element within the GOP. But these down-to-earth conservatives don’t get as much attention as they’re too reasonable. Also, despite being the most traditional of conservatives, they aren’t the base of the Republican Party. In fact, they are almost evenly split between Republicans and Independents (which is the same role the Liberal demographic group plays in the Democratic Party).

The fact that traditional conservatives (traditional in the larger historical sense) are the least supportive of the Republican Party says a lot about what has become of the party that supposedly represents ‘conservatives’. It also explains a lot about why traditional conservatism is ignored in America. The GOP doesn’t care about traditional conservatives as much because it isn’t their base. These conservatives are the poor and working class people. Unlike the wealthy Enterprisers, they don’t have lots of money to donate to political campaigns. And, unlike the upper middle class Tea Party supporters, they don’t make for entertaining media coverage. These people are too busy just trying to get by and going by the media you would hardly know they existed.

Related to this, I was comparing conservatives between the parties. It might surprise some people to see how many conservatives there are in the Democratic Party. In particular, poor minorities living in the South are extremely conservative and yet loyal Democrats. Rightwingers like to argue that only liberal Democrats want big government for social issues, but government being involved with social issues has always been a traditional conservative position. Why are liberal Democrats defending the traditionally conservative role of the government as an institution upholding social order and the public good? Maybe because it’s in the nature of liberals in general to defend the powerless when attacked by the powerful.

So, what exactly is traditional conservatism?

Here is a very good explanation/description:

Conservative? Americans Don’t Know the Meaning of the Word
Guy Molyneux

True conservatism is a philosophy committed to conserving– conserving families, communities and nation in the face of change. Committed to preserving fundamental values, such as accountability, civic duty and the rule of law. And committed to a strong government to realize these ends. What passes for conservatism in America today bears only a passing resemblance to this true conservatism. It worships at the twin altars of free enterprise and weak government–two decidedly unconservative notions.

Real conservatism values security and stability over the unfettered free market. In Germany, for example, it was the conservative Otto von Bismark–not socialists–who developed social insurance and built the world’s first welfare state. Today conservatives throughout the world–but not here–endorse government-provided national health care, because they recognize public needs are not always met by the private sector. And they see a role for government in encouraging national economic development.

A true conservative movement would not ignore the decay of our great cities, or see the disorder of the Los Angeles riots only as a political opportunity. Nor would they pay homage to “free trade” while the nation’s manufacturing base withered. Nor would a conservative President veto pro-family legislation requiring companies to provide leave to new mothers, in deference to business prerogatives.

Traditional conservatives champion community and nation over the individual. They esteem public service, and promote civic obligation. They reject the “invisible hand” argument, that everyone’s pursuit of individual self-interest will magically yield the best public outcome, believing instead in deliberately cultivating virtue. Authentic conservatives do not assail 55 m.p.h. speed limits and seat-belt laws as encroaching totalitarianism.

Finally, a genuine conservatism values the future over the present. It is a movement of elites to be sure, but of elites who feel that their privilege entails special obligations. The old word for this was “stewardship”–the obligation to care for the nation’s human and natural resources, and to look out for future generations’ interests.

Such conservatives would not open up public lands for private commercial exploitation, or undermine environmental regulations for short-term economic growth. They would not cut funding for childrens’ vaccinations, knowing that the cost of treating illness is far greater. And a conservative political party would never preside over a quadrupling of the national debt.

In America, then, what we call conservatism is really classical liberalism: a love of the market, and hatred of government. Adam Smith, after all, was a liberal, not a conservative. As the economist Gunnar Myrdal once noted: “America is conservative . . . but the principles conserved are liberal.”

American conservatives have often celebrated the country’s historically “exceptional” character: the acceptance of capitalism and the absence of any significant socialist movement. Curiously, though, they often miss their half of the story: the absence of a real Tory conservatism. What Louis Hartz called America’s “liberal consensus” excluded both of the great communitarian traditions–ain’t nobody here but us liberals.

True conservatism’s weakness as a political tradition in America is thus an old story. When values confront the market here, the market usually wins. In recent years, though, conservative social values seem to have been eclipsed. Many of today’s conservatives are really libertarians–proponents of a radical individualism that has little in common with conservatism.

Public Opinion On Government & Tea Party

I’m endlessly confused (and curious) about trying to understand public opinion and where it’s heading (see some of the posts on my US Data page), but it usually seems clear to me that Americans are becoming more liberal on at least social issues. Issues of the government and economy are a bit more complex. When I listen to the conservative rhetoric about fiscal conservatism, I’m left deeply confused considering how it compares to the Republican record. I really don’t see a clear connection between fiscal responsibility and fiscal conservatism. I’ve even argued that liberals are the new ‘fiscal conservatives’, although I don’t mean to dismiss the few fiscally responsible conservatives such as Ron Paul.

The main confusion is that the data I’ve seen shows that most Americans identify as conservative. I even think I’ve seen data showing the number of self-identified conservatives has been growing. But on many specific issues most Americans are becoming more liberal and progressive. I suppose there are many ways to make sense of this seemingly contradictory data. First, it’s not really contradictory. Labels of self-identification don’t necessarily have any relationship to the actual social and political positions people hold. Labels such as liberal and conservative are relative. Since the data shows the country moving left, it wouldn’t be surprising if most Americans were to some extent aware of this trend. So, maybe most Americans feel ‘conservative’ relative to the increasingly liberal direction the country is going in. However, compared to the conservatism of the past, most Americans today are definitely liberal.

Anyway, the reason I’m writing yet another post about this topic is because I’ve come across new data that confirms the previous data I’ve seen. Here is the new data:

http://projectvote.org/voter-poll-results

I came across this polling data from this site:

http://www.openleft.com/showDiary.do;jsessionid=9F4259A9B9DBBAC1A619FD723F6ECE38?diaryId=20244

The poll looked at the 2008 voters and looked at the different demographics.

“We wanted to learn more about the views of the black, youth, and low-income voters who overwhelmingly participated in 2008 election,” said Lorraine C. Minnite, director of research for Project Vote. “These voters represent roughly a third of the electorate, they will play an increasingly important role in American politics, and they fundamentally believe in a government that does more, not less. Yet their voices are largely ignored, and their views are not being represented.”

Instead, the new report says, over the past two years the opinions and values of these populations have been drowned out by the anti-government rhetoric of more affluent, older, and mostly white Americans who have organized under the “Tea Party” banner.

“The winning coalition in 2008 included an unprecedented number of young voters, who were more racially diverse than any cohort in the history of American politics and more progressive than any young voters since the 1960s,” said Peter Levine, director of CIRCLE (Center for Information & Research on Civic Learning & Engagement). “The new poll from Project Vote provides essential information about these young people’s hopes and beliefs in 2010.”

That verifies other data about the Tea Party. The average Tea Party supporter is slightly more white, older, and wealthier than the average American (and so it’s not surprising that the ). But the biggest difference is seen in the positions they advocate. Ignoring the demographic data, Tea Party supporters simply don’t represent the views of the average American.

The poll finds that the policy preferences of these three voting constituencies are far more closely aligned with the views of average Americans—represented by the poll’s national sample—than the minority views of the self-identified Tea Party sympathizers.

Most helpful from the second link is the summary of the specific views supported by majorities of black, young, and low-income voters:

  • Increasing taxes on investment income, increasing social security taxes on incomes greater than $107,000, and ending combat operations in Iraq and Afghanistan as a means to reduce the deficit.
  • Spending money on infrastructure, as do two-thirds of all 2008 voters.
  • Spending the same or more on income support programs such as Food Stamps for less well-off Americans. Two-thirds of Tea Party sympathizers support spending less.
  • Tea Party sympathizers, while almost universally dissatisfied with the way the country is going, report they themselves are doing very well: more than three out of four say their personal economic situation is fairly good or very good.
  • Meanwhile, one in five young voters, and nearly two out of five black voters and low-income voters, reported that there were times in the past 12 months when they did not have enough money to buy food for their families. Just over one in 20 Tea Party supporters said the same.
  • Strong majorities of black voters, young voters, and low-income voters agree that government should work to provide for the needs of all citizens. Half of all voters agreed with that sentiment, while only one in five Tea Party sympathizers agreed.
  • Together, the three “surge” groups represent a larger portion of the electorate than those who self-identify with the Tea Party.

At the same time, I came across some other data:

http://pewresearch.org/pubs/1735/political-compromise-unpopular-neither-party-favored-on-economy-four-in-ten-say-cutting-tax-cuts-for-wealthy-hurts-economy

The first thing I noticed is that mostly Republicans identify with the Tea Party. No surprise there, but what was rather telling is that most Independents identify with the Democratic Party, more than identify with the Tea Party. So, the Tea Party can’t honestly claim to be the party of Independents.

The one area that the American public leans slightly conservative is in being less supportive of compromise. This piece of data is significant in another context because it substantiates the claim that Democrats are in reality more bipartisan than Republicans (which I spoke about in a previous post: )

One of the areas where the liberal view predominates is the American public’s view on tax cuts for the rich. Most Americans state they want the tax cuts for the rich to end. This new data shows that most Americans don’t think ending the tax cuts for the rich will hurt the economy. They either think it will help or that it will have no impact at all. According to this data, Republicans are the only demographic that has a majority opinion of it hurting the economy. However, going by the various polls, even the Republicans are split on whether the tax cuts for the rich should end or not.

Libertarians: Rich White Males of the Republican Party

“You have the courage to tell the masses what no politician told them: you are inferior and all the improvements in your conditions which you simply take for granted you owe to the effort of men who are better than you.”

~ Ludwig von Mises writing to Ayn Rand

In the above videos (I think he mentions it in the first one), brainpolice2 mentioned the data of libertarians being mostly white males from the upper middle class. The point being they’re supposedly out of touch with the average person and particularly out of touch with demographics that have in the past lacked political power and representation (minorities, immigrants, women, etc).

I thought I’d seen this data before, but I decided I should verify it. I found some data from the Cato Institute (which certaintly represents wealthy libertarians). Indeed, libertarians are 82% white (80% for all demographics) and 7% black (12% for all demographics). So, that isn’t all that extremely off the average and in fact is the same as what Cato labels as liberal (both groups being below the 83% white and 10% black of conservatives). This is a bit confusing as I’d have to look at their definitions more closely, but one comparison stood out. Cato’s diagram of ideologies puts populism opposite of libertarianism and populism has the highest percentage of minorities at 15% black (and 80% white). The Democratic party tends to draw both liberals and populists which is why there is higher representation of minorities among Democrats.

I suspect, however, that with the Tea Party there has been an increase of populism among whites which oddly has combined forces (at least in part) with the opposing ideology of libertarianism. I think this is because conservatism stands between the two and conservative nationalism bleeds over into libertarianism and populism. Anyway, at least in 2006 when this data was taken, white libertarians were the demographic most opposed to black populism (opposed both in terms of ideology and minority representation).

Some other demographic details:

Libertarians – second most well educated (after liberals), second most secular and least church attending (after liberals), highest percentage of males of any demographic, youngest demographic (youthful idealism?), wealthiest demographic (idealism supported by a comfortable lifestyle?), below average percentage in all regions except for the west where they have the highest representation of all demographics (I’m not sure why that is), mostly identified as Republican.

And let me compare to their opposite ideology:

Populists – least well educated, one of the most religiously identified and church attending (only slightly below conservatives), majority female, oldest demographic, poorest demogrpahic, most southern demographic, Cato doesn’t have the political identification data for this demographic (going by Pew data in “Beyond Red vs Blue”, I’d assume that this demographic would mostly Democrat).

According to Cato definitions, libertarians are socially liberal and fiscally conservative and populists are socially conservative and fiscally liberal. Since I brought up the Pew data, my guess is that these two ideologies would correlate to the Pew Demographics in the following way. Libertarians seem to be a perfect fit for what Pew labels as Enterprisers (which are basically the rich, white, males who vote almost entirely Republican and are the most loyal viewers of Fox News). Populists are probably mostly what Pew labels as Conservative Democrats and Disadvantaged Democrats (which have higher percentages of minorities, females, and the poor), although populists might also be found among the demographic Pew labels as Pro-Government Conservatives (the poor, female minorities who are almost evenly split between Republican and Indpendent).

In conclusion, it would seem that libertarians in the US are simply the rich, white, male demographic of the conservative movement who mostly identify as Republican. If I’m reading the data correctly (from the two above sources), libertarians seem less prone towards identifying as Independent than many other demographics (such as liberals or else conservatives who are some combination of poor, minority and female). Rupert Murdoch, the self-identified libertarian and former board member of the libertarian Cato Institute, is the Chairman and CEO of News Corporation, the owner of Fox News Channel. Murdoch seems the perfect representative of this libertarian demographic and he seems to have intentionally conflated libertarianism with the Republican party.

Ron Paul is another libertarian who fits the description of rich, white, male Republican. He might be a bit different than Murdoch in emphasizing civil libertarianism slightly more, but I doubt they’d disagree on much. Ron Paul did show his true libertarian colors recently.

Compared to many conservatives, I like how Ron Paul comes off as well-intentioned in his values. I get the sense that he is the complete opposite of the cynical neo-conservative who will use anything, including libertarian rhetoric, to win votes. In the comment section of the above video, there was a mocking portrayal of libertarianism which was on target. Despite good intentions, even someone like Ron Paul often comes off as a bit detached from the average American’s experience.

clownporn1 wrote (see comments here):

One of the more pretentious political self-descriptions is “Libertarian.” People think it puts them above the fray. It sounds fashionable, and to the uninitiated, faintly dangerous. Actually, it’s just one more bullshit political philosophy.

– George Carlin

Libertarianism is a fad political ideology for 13 year old boys, first year college students, and white business owners who use the “private property” argument so they don’t have to serve blacks.

This morning I was awoken by my alarm clock powered by electricity generated by the public power monopoly regulated by the US Department of Energy.I then took a shower in the clean water provided by the municipal water utility.

After that, I turned on the TV to one of the FCC regulated channels to see what the National Weather Service of the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration determined the weather was going to be like using satellites designed, built, and launched by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.

Then, after spending another day not being maimed or killed at work thanks to the workplace regulations imposed by the Department of Labor and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, I drive back to my house which has not burned down in my absence because of the state and local building codes and the fire marshal’s inspection, and which has not been plundered of all its valuables thanks to the local police department.

I then log onto the Internet which was developed by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Administration and post on freerepublic and fox news forums about how SOCIALISM in medicine is BAD because the government can’t do anything right.

self pwnage you say

Old, Male, White, Religious, Rich Republicans Are Happy! Surprise, Surprise!

It’s interesting which demographics state being the happiest in the US: old, male, white, religious, rich, Republican. It makes sense. In the US, the people who fit this description have had the most privilege, power, and wealth.

Consider the comparison between Republicans and Democrats.

Why would Republicans be happier? I’m sure it partly relates to Republicans being religious. The religious demographic tends to be happy. In particular, fundamentalist and right-wing authoritarians tend to perceive themselves as happier. However, I wonder if religious conservatives are happier in the US simply because religious conservatism has been a central element of mainstream US culture. I wonder if liberal secularists would be happier if they were living in a liberal secularist society.

Why would Democrats be less happy? I’d suspect it might have to do with poor minorities and immigrants voting in higher numbers for Democrats. Those without power and wealth tend to vote Democrat and tend to live less happy lives. It sucks being a poor minority or immigrant in the US.

What is also interesting is that many more socialist countries rate higher than the US on happiness. I think this relates to wealth disparity. The lower the wealth disparity means the less social problems. The US, however, has a high wealth disparity and high rates of social problems. So, I’d suspect that the US also has a high happiness disparity.

Another interesting angle is age. Old people grew up during a time when the US had increasing wealth and there was much upward mobility. The older generation, through a few decades of Silent presidents, shifted the wealth from the young toward the older. This meant that Boomers and GenXers grew up in a time when all the programs for the youth had their funding taken away. In particular, GenX has seen the worst employment rates that any generation has seen since the Great Depression and GenX was experiencing this in the decades prior to our present economic troubles. GenXers got a bum deal. Even Millennials who were treated much better as youth are coming of age during a tough time. It sucks to be young.

It really suck to be a young minority. GenX blacks have seen prison rates worse than any demographic in all of US history. When the Silents decided to get tough on crime, they sent massive number of GenX minorities to prison.

Our country wouldn’t be the way it is if it weren’t for the policies of the white male Silents who had more presidential representation than any other group in US history. I understand that they’re happy for having had so much power and for having made the world better for themselves, but couldn’t they at least be a little bit unhappy for making the world worse off for everyone else? Oh, to be happy and oblivious to everyone else’s unhappiness. It must be nice.

As usual, it’s hard to come to any absolutely clear conclusions. I can see some complex factors.

For example, the Democrat party is much more diverse than the Republican party and so includes a wider spectrum of demographics. There are rich Democrats who are probably fairly happy, but there are also a lot of poor Democrats. Apparently, the two average out so that the Democrats overall are less happy than Republicans. Even so, I’m not sure that rich Republicans are necessarily happier than rich Democrats. Along these lines, the Democrat party includes both the highest IQ Americans and the lowest IQ Americans, but overall Democrats still have a higher average IQ than Republicans. There might not be a direct correlation between having a high IQ and being happy. It would seem, though, that there would at least be an indirect correlation in that rich people are happier and tend to have higher IQs. I’d like to know whether high IQ Republicans or high IQ Democrats are happier.

Another confusing factor is that Liberals are the high IQ demographic within the Democratic party, but 40% of liberals (as of 2005) identify as Independent rather than Democrat. Liberals are only about a third of the Democratic party. So, ignoring party affiliation, are liberals or conservatives happier? It’s possible that liberals are happier than conservatives despite the fact that Republicans are happier than Democrats. Maybe the unhappiest demographic within both parties would be the poor minorities (especially those of the younger generations) who tend to be social conservatives.

Liberals are the New Fiscal Conservatives

In a recent post (Cenk Uygur on Tax Cuts for the Rich), I asked the following question:

What is the motivation for Republicans being for and Democrats being against tax cuts for the rich? Many like to argue that both parties are in the pocket of the wealthy elite. But if that were the case, Democrat politicians should support tax cuts for the rich as much as Republicans do.

I often agree with those who criticize the two party system. It is mostly a sham, but I wouldn’t say it’s entirely a sham. Also, I’d point out that Republican and Democrat isn’t equivalent to conservative and liberal. I often argue that there are important differences that shouldn’t be ignored. I’ve often written about these differences, but one of my best posts on the subject (Liberal Pragmatism, Conservative Dogmatism) was where I gathered all of the data showing examples of how liberal policies are effective in the real world.

In that post, the most interesting examples are where the real world data contradict the ideologically commonsense assumptions. For instance, what many pro-lifers don’t understand is that pro-choicers also want to decrease the number of abortions. To the pro-lifer, it’s just commonsense that illegalizing abortions will decrease the numbers, but in this case commonsense is incorrect. Countries where abortions are illegalized have high rates of abortions and countries where abortions are legalized have low rates of abortions. It does make sense once you have all the data, but if you’re basing your decisions on ideology instead of data you will come to an incorrect conclusion.

My argument in that post was that liberals (who may or may not identify as Democrats) are more likely to prefer basing decisions on data… and the data does show that liberals are a very well-educated demographic. I explored this issue of liberal intellectualism and conservative anti-intellectualism in previous posts such as these: Conservative Mistrust & Ideological Certainty (part 1) and Conservative Mistrust & Ideological Certainty (part 2). The point I was making in those posts was that there are many conservatives, including intelligent conservatives, who are epistemologically mistrusting of all data, especially from the social sciences. There isn’t much that can be done about such people because there is no way to have an objective discussion with them. Their attitude of epistemological mistrust of data leads to an epistemologically self-enclosed worldview. It’s like talking to a Christian apologists. Such people have come to a conclusion before discussion even begins and any new data is meaningless.

Still, I like to believe that most people can be influenced by new data. I’ve come across examples of conservatives with very open minds and very rational intellects. Conservatism may make one more prone to anti-intellectualism, but that is a far cry from saying all or even most conservatives are therefore anti-intellectuals. In another recent post (Conservative Critics of Conservatism), I detailed some of the conservatives who I’ve come to respect for their independent thinking.

With Cenk Uygur’s video (linked at top), I was reminded of the example of economics. Conservatives love to talk economics because they’ve honed their rhetoric and talking points to near perfection. I even can agree with or can deem worthy some conservative criticisms which involve economics. There is some validity to fiscal conservatism, but the problem with fiscal conservatism isn’t in the ideology itself. Rather, it’s in those who use the ideology as rhetoric for winning votes. This is where data becomes so important which is why I just posted some of this data: National Debt, Starve the Beast, & Wealth Disparity. Both conservatives and liberals perceive themselves as moral (many seeing themselves as morally superior, maybe especially conservatives who think of morality in hierarchical terms), but I think an important aspect of morality is humility (Is that a liberal value? Conservatives do seem to have a talent for acting righteous.). I personally believe, which may simply be my liberal bias, that we should try to suppress our urge to be righteous until after the data is analyzed. If the data supports your position, then by all means untether your righteousness… but (with emphasis on that “but”) if the data doesn’t support your position, then instead of looking to criticize the data and rationalize your position maybe you should do some soul-searching.

Anyways, inspiration for this post began with thoughts I had about the data in the post about the national debt. In the post itself, I didn’t add any of my own commentary. I merely quoted in length the commentary of others and gathered some videos and charts. I wanted to add some commentary and so decided I should just start a separate post.

Whenever considering US politics (especially in terms of liberalism and conservatism), I usually think of one of my favorite sources of info: Beyond Red vs. Blue (and here is a short NPR segment about it). This is a survey done by Pew. They divided the US population into 9 demographics.

The two wealthiest demographics are the Enterprisers and the Liberals, the former being staunch Republicans and the latter being almost equally divided between Democrats and Independents.

Interestingly, the vast majority of Republicans identify as conservatives and so do almost half of Democrats with liberals being the minority in the Democratic party… which would seem to imply that the political debate truly has been pushed to the right and that Americans quite possibly have a confused sense of what conservative means – see: America: Conservative & Progressive and US Demographics & Increasing Progressivism. By the way, I noticed Wikipedia has some interesting articles: Conservative Democrat, Blue Dog CoalitionNew Democrat CoalitionLiberal Republican, and Rockefeller Republican. From the article, Conservative Democrat: “Prior to 1964, both parties had their liberal, moderate, and conservative wings, each of them influential in both parties… After 1980, the Republicans became a mostly right-wing party… while the Democrats, while keeping their left wing intact… grew a substantial moderate wing in the 1990s in place of their old conservative wing”. Only the Democrat party seems to be presently maintaining both liberals and conservatives within its membership. Conservatives out-number moderates in the Republican party, but moderates out-number liberals in the Democratic party. Furthermore, 35% of Liberals identify as moderate while only 14% of Enterprisers identify as moderate (which means many of the Liberals within the Democrat Party are moderate Liberals and the far left Liberals are probably those who identify as Independents). This means that the Democratic party (including the Liberal Democrats) now represents the moderate political position (socialists, elitists?). However, the perception that Americans have come to have, as provided by the mainstream media, is that Republicans are moderates and Democrats are far left.

Both the Enterpriser and Liberal demographics have the same percentage of those in the upper economic bracket, but what distinguishes the Liberals is that they have a higher percentage (than the Enterprisers) of those from the lower economic bracket and so Liberals also have higher percentage of those who have experienced unemployment. Besides the wealth issue, both have high percentages of small business ownership and high percentages of trading stocks and bonds, but Enterprisers have the highest rates among all 9 demographics and Liberals have the third highest rate in both categories. So, these two demographics represent the two ideological ends of the spectrum of the wealthiest Americans (However, if you’re talking about the wealthy elite ruling the country, Enterprisers fit that description better than Liberals). Also, both are the two most highly educated demographics with Liberals being slightly better educated on average and, according to other data (Response to Rightwing Misinformation and Liberal Pragmatism, Conservative Dogmatism), Democrats in general have higher IQ on average than Repbulicans (so maybe, if Enterprisers are the wealthy elite, Liberals could be considered the intellectual elite… although both demographics are relatively wealthy and well-educated as compared to the rest of the population and so there is a limit to how well they fit their respective stereotypes).

In terms of my present discussion, the differences between the two are what interest me… and, unlike what conservatives say in their moments of empty rhetoric, one of those differences isn’t that liberals lack real world experience in business and economics. Here are some of the actual differences:

Who exactly are they?

Enterprisers are more white, more male and slightly older than the national average.
Liberals are nearly identical to the national averages in terms of race, gender and age.

Enterprisers are most loyal viewers of Fox News which is their main source of news.
Liberals watch tv news the least of all demographics and get news from the internet the most of all demographics.

What do they support?

Enterprisers show the strongest support for the Patriot Act.
Liberals show the least support for the Patriot Act.

Enterprisers mostly think preemptive military attacks against other countries can sometimes be justified.
Liberals mostly think preemptive military attacks against other countries only rarely can be justified.

Enterprisers are the least in favor of raising minimum wage.
Liberals are strongly in favor of raising minimum wage.

Enterprisers are the strongest in favor of privatizing social security.
Liberals are strongly opposed of privatizing social security.

Enterprisers are the most opposed to government guaranteeing health insurance to all citizens.
Liberals are the least opposed to government guaranteeing health insurance to all citizens.

Enterprisers are the most in favor of outsourcing American jobs.
Liberals are strongly opposed to outsourcing American jobs.

What are their views about government financial issues?

Enterprisers are the most in favor of cutting taxes, especially tax cuts for the rich.
Liberals are the most opposed to cutting taxes, including tax cuts for the rich.

Enterprisers put less priority on balancing the budget deficit than any other demographic.
Liberals put more priority on balancing the budget deficit than any other demographic.

Enterprisers show the least support for raising the taxes in order to reduce the deficit.
Liberals are the only demographic to show majority support for raising taxes to reduce the deficit.

Enterprisers show the least support for lowering defense/military spending to reduce the deficit.
Liberals are the only demographic to show majority support for lowering defense/military spending to reduce the deficit.

Enterprisers show the most support for lowering domestic spending to reduce the deficit.
Liberals are evenly split in their support for lowering domestic spending to reduce the deficit.

I could add even more examples, but this gives a basic comparison (if you want to see the data for yourself, here is the pdf: http://people-press.org/reports/tables/242.pdf).

Basically, Enterprisers are social conservatives and fiscal liberals and Liberals are social liberals and fiscal conservatives.

Enterprisers are against any policy that favors the poor, the working class, and minorities; and are for any issue involving conservative morality and fundamentalist religion (such as wanting creationism to be taught in schools). Enterprisers, besides being neocons, are simply the religious right writ large with power and money. It’s because of the Enterprisers that the religious right have taken over the Republican party. One would be mistaken to think the religious right is simply represented by uneducated white southerners.

Liberals, despite also being mostly rich whites, support any policy that helps the poor, the working class, and minorities. It’s odd that Liberals support all the policies that directly cost them while only directly helping others. As a liberal, I assume that these Liberals believe that helping the least helps the entire society (which is proven by the data on wealth disparity comparisons: Mean Bosses & Inequality). As Enterprisers are the most religious demographic, Liberals are the least religious demographic. Liberals take seriously the Constitutional doctrine of separation of church and state. In general, Liberals seem to value the Constitution more than Enterprisers or at least they are less willing to sacrifice (e.g., against torture and the Patriot Act which Enterprisers strongly support).

Enterprisers are on many of the issues 10-30% stronger in their opinions than Liberals. Enterprisers are the most conservative of conservatives (to be precise they are the most conservative on social conservative issues while the most liberal of all demographics on fiscal liberalism… which esentially makes them typical neoconservatives who are presently the leaders of the Republican party). Liberals also are the most liberal of liberals, but the difference is that Liberals seem more moderate on most issues. As I pointed out earlier in this post, there are more moderate liberals than moderate conservatives and there are more moderate Democrats than moderate Republicans. For example, even though Liberals show the most support for domestic spending (i.e., social programs), they were evenly split on this issue. There are few things more important to a liberal than social programs and yet liberals apparently hold fiscal conservatism as at least equal to their social liberalism. The only thing Liberals value more than fiscal conservatism are issues involving civil and constitutional rights.

The reason I compared these two groups is because they represent the two wealthy demographics among conservatives and liberals. So, I thought they should be fairly representative of two distinct worldviews of those who have power in this country. However, I should point out again that there are many conservatives in the Democrat party whereas liberals in the Republican party are almost non-existent. In the context of Washington politics, most Democratic and Republican politicians are probably closer to Enterprisers than to Liberals, at least in terms of actual policy decisions (whether or not in terms of rhetoric). For example, Obama’s health insurance plan which Republicans have called socialist is based on a proposal made by Republicans in the 1990s. So, conservative ideas from a decade ago are now considered to be far left ideology. This demonstrates how far right has shifted the entire political spectrum.

The data I’m using is a few years old (2005). I’d like to see some more recent data that has this much detail. Even so, the fact that Republican politicians remain staunch defenders of tax cuts for the rich seems to show the data hasn’t changed much since Bush was replaced by Obama. I don’t know how many Democratic politicians would fit the Pew description of the Liberal demographic, but definitely this kind of liberalism does manage to maintain some small influence over Democratic politicians. Even though Democratic politicians may not be staunch opponents of tax cuts for the rich, the liberal influence within the Democratic party does keep them from being staunch supporters.

As one last comment, if you support fiscal conservatism (as real world policies rather than mere rhetoric), you’d be wise to vote Democrat (or, if as a conservative you can’t stomach the idea of voting for a Democrat, maybe you should at least consider a third party). All of the recent Democratic presidents have been, going by the actual results, more fiscally conservative than all of the recent Republican presidents. However, if you simply like the sound of rhetoric and don’t care about the real world, then by all means keep voting Republican.

Republicans Support Big Government… just as long as Republicans are in power

This post relates to the post right before this one (Tea Party: prejudiced against marginalized groups?).

It’s not that these conservatives don’t trust government. What they trust is government when it serves their own interests and the interests of capitalism. But not when government serves the interests of the underprivileged working class. And not when government serves the average American by regulating the excesses of Wall Street.

I remember a media person (probably Cenk Uygur) commenting that the only time bipartisanship happens is when Democrats agree with Republicans. However, the only principle Republicans stand by is that they refuse to cooperate in almost any bipartisan effort. This data seems to support that in that it shows that Democrats are the only party willing to be fair in both support and criticism.

(As an interesting side note, I just heard reported of a poll that appears to show Tea Party supporters have more favorable ratings of George W. Bush and the Republican party than even those who fully identify as Republicans. That seems to fit into this data since the problems the Tea Party complains about mostly began under Bush’s administration: Wall Street dishonesty, economic downturn, bank bailouts, trampling on Constitutional rights including the seizing of legally owned guns in Washington, DC.)

My favorite comment to the above video:

FirstAmongNerds Wayne’s claim that the government is as much to blame for this catastrophe as Wall Street is like claiming police are as much to blame for rape as rapists. “That rapist might have raped me, but the police consciously assisted by not being in the vicinity by chance at the time of the rape.” The government did a terrible job regulating Wall Street, but the moral onus lies with Wall Street to not intentionally fuck over their investors.

http://firedoglake.com/2010/04/19/new-pew-poll-republicans-only-skeptical-of-government-when-democrats-are-in-charge/

Look at those numbers. Democrats are about as trusting of Barack Obama’s administration (33%) than they were of Ronald Reagan’s (34%). Compare that to Republicans, who are supposedly wary of government, out of principle. Nope. When there’s a guy with an “R” next to his name at 1600 Pennsylvania, they just completely toss that out the window.

What’s going on here?

One, Republicans are simply more authoritarian than Democrats. For all their talk about individual liberty and personal freedom, they’re ready and eager to goose-step behind whatever Republican Daddy figure that comes along. Think back at the cottage industry of sickeningly fawning books about Bush during his first term and you get the picture. This is why right-wingers saw black helicopters in the skies when Clinton was President, but cheered on every egregious executive overreach — from domestic spying to torture — when Bush was at the helm.

Paraphrasing Truman, Republicans have leaders and Democrats have bosses.

It’s also pretty self-evident from these results that a Democratic President trying to appeal to Republican (or Teabagger) voters is completely wasting his time. So Barack Obama can escalate in Afghanistan and cut taxes and he’s still considered a communist pacifist by the right.

Finally, look at the steady decline of trust in government among Independents. That’s the result of 30+ years of “government is the problem” Reaganism. The Democrats and Barack Obama must make an affirmative case for government or this trend will continue.

The party of “government sucks — vote for us” is still winning the messaging war.

http://people-press.org/report/606/trust-in-government

First, there is considerable evidence that distrust of government is strongly connected to how people feel about the overall state of the nation. […] The recent downward trend in trust in government began in the fall of 2008, when public satisfaction plunged amid the financial crisis. […]

A second element is presidential politics. Trust in government is typically higher among members of the party that controls the White House than among members of the “out” party. However, Republicans’ views of government change more dramatically, depending on which party holds power, than do Democrats’. Republicans are more trusting of government when the GOP holds power than Democrats are when the Democrats are in charge. […]

A third factor is that a particular subgroup of independents, who are financially pressed, chronically distrustful of government and who typically lean to the Republican Party, appears to be especially angry today. Pew political typology surveys in the past have labeled these individuals as “disaffecteds.” This group may explain, in part, why at least as many Republican-leaning independents (37%) as conservative Republicans (32%) say they are angry with the government. And identical percentages of Republican-leaning independents and conservative Republicans (53% each) say they agree with the Tea Party movement.

Finally, record discontent with Congress – and dim views of elected officials generally – have poisoned the well for trust in the federal government. Undoubtedly, this has contributed to growing discontent with government even among groups who are generally more positive about it, such as Democrats. […]

A desire for smaller government is particularly evident since Barack Obama took office. In four surveys over the past year, about half have consistently said they would rather have a smaller government with fewer services, while about 40% have consistently preferred a bigger government providing more services. In October 2008, shortly before the presidential election the public was evenly divided on this issue (42% smaller government, 43% bigger government). […]

While the public is wary of too much government involvement with the economy, it suspends that concern when it comes to stricter regulation of major financial companies. A clear majority (61%) says it is a good idea for the government to more strictly regulate the way major financial companies do business, which is virtually unchanged from last April (60%).

Response to Rightwing Misinformation

I’m involved in a discussion right now. I noticed the discussion because someone had linked to one of my blog posts here.

http://topix.net/forum/source/kdvr/TA3MUPB6NGSBEJ7QK/p4

One commenter responded to the commenter who linked to me. She was challenging his viewpoint, but all of her claims were either wrong or based on old data.

Becky wrote:
The only sheep here are the ones like you who actually believe the crap the liberal media and your precious president are shoving down your throat. […] I am curious you really think that dumb people are republicans. Our military is 75% republican so by your reasoning you think that 75% of our military is un-educated and from rural low income families?

Studies show the media isn’t dominated by liberals.

https://benjamindavidsteele.wordpress.com/2010/04/04/black-and-white-and-read-all-over/

By the way, could you rightwingers please quit repeating your talking points that you learn by watching too much Fox News?
“shove it down our throats” “ram it through”
I think it was Jon Stewart that did a great humorous analysis of that particular talking point, but I found another video of Bill Maher which is hilarious.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EadOO7mzkfc

Are Republicans dumb?

To be honest, studies show that conservativess on average have lower IQs than liberals.

http://spq.sagepub.com/cgi/content/abstract/73/1/33

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/02/100224132655.htm

“Data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health (Add Health) support Kanazawa’s hypothesis. Young adults who subjectively identify themselves as “very liberal” have an average IQ of 106 during adolescence while those who identify themselves as “very conservative” have an average IQ of 95 during adolescence.”

http://www.cnn.com/2010/HEALTH/02/26/liberals.atheists.sex.intelligence/index.html

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GIavgRlX8Tc

http://www.vidoemo.com/yvideo.php?i=Z29RYWpOcWuRpY0czOXM&intelligence-iq-religious-atheist-democrat-republican=

http://www.liveleak.com/view?i=368_1187885839

 

http://www.halfsigma.com/2006/06/democrats_may_n.html

“I previously wrote that Republicans are more intelligent than Democrats. It seems that may have been a hasty conclusion based on looking at the entire General Social Survey (GSS) dataset, and ignoring the trend. It seems that the Republicans used to be the more intelligent party, but that may no longer be true.”

According to Pew, liberals are the most well educated.

http://people-press.org/report/?pageid=949

The most well educated demographic are liberals (19% of registered voters, 59% Democratic, 40% Independent, socially liberal). Liberals are the fastest growing demographic, but they already represent the largest sector of the Democratic party and the largest sector of the entire population.

And liberals tend to be attracted to intellectual fields such as science.

http://people-press.org/report/?pageid=1549

56% of scientists perceive scientists as liberal.
52% identify as liberal including 14% as very liberal.
55% identify as Democrat, 6% identify as Republican, 32% idenitfy as Independent (w/ 81% of Independent scientists leaning towards Democrat).

“Majorities of scientists working in academia (60%), for non-profits (55%) and in government (52%) call themselves Democrats, as do nearly half of those working in private industry (47%).”

“A far smaller share of scientists (40%) than the public (57%) agrees with the statement when something is run by the government, it is usually inefficient and wasteful.”

“Scientists also are less likely… to say that business strikes a fair balance between profits and the public interest: Just 20% of scientists… compared with 37% of the public. And while 78% of scientists say that the government has a responsibility to care for those unable to care for themselves…”

Just 14% of scientists agree that we have gone too far in pushing equal rights in this country. That compares with 41% of the public. Just a third of scientists but a majority of the public (53%) agrees that the best way to ensure peace is through military strength.”

83% of Americans believe in God.
33% of scientists believe in God.
82% of Americans have a religious affiliation.
48% of scientists have a religious affiliation

There is one last point in your comment. You claim the military is 75% Republican. What is your source for that data? Is it new or old data? I came across a report on studies that supposedly debunk this myth.

http://www2.tbo.com/content/2009/jul/26/na-studies-debunk-military-myths/news-politics/

“New research on political opinions of U.S. service members suggests the stereotype of the military as uniformly conservative and Republican doesn’t hold true.

“Instead, the research portrays America’s troops as more moderate and less party-oriented than the population as a whole, and they are more likely to avoid the extreme ends of the conservative-to-liberal political spectrum.

“Younger enlisted personnel, the least-studied service members, mostly reflect their civilian peers. But at least one researcher says they also are much more likely to vote.”

[ . . . ]

“The perception of service members as heavily Republican and conservative is long-standing.

“A 1998 survey by political scientist Peter Feaver of Duke University and Richard Kohn of the University of North Carolina that focused only on officers augmented that stereotype, finding that officers called themselves “conservative” versus “liberal” by an 8-to-1 ratio and Republican instead of Democrat by roughly a 6-to-1 ratio. But Feaver said it was wrong to extend his findings to enlisted personnel. “It’s a lot more likely to be more true of a colonel than a private,” he said.

“Feaver said the military is somewhat more conservative and Republican-oriented than the general public, but also tends to shift along with broad trends in society and likely has become somewhat less conservative since he did his research. “There may be a return to the historical position of the military as more politically independent,” he said.”

Becky wrote:
Half of your statistics mean nothing unless you are stating that unmarried people with no belief in anything beyond life are smarter people. If that is your definition of smarter people then hell yeah I’d rather be stupid.[…] I work in a green company in a green industry started by (guess what) republicans not democrats. I run into more Republicans in our industry than democrats. And it is the leaders in this industry (that’s right all republicans) at the capital trying to pass legislation to help our environment and our economy (not using government funds for solar panels on gyms).[…] The highest age group that is democratic falls with 18-29 year olds. SO not a whole lot of life experience there-a lot of them believe anything the media tells them.

Liberals tend to be younger, but that isn’t simply that younger people are Liberal. Other research shows that Millennials are more Liberal than past generations at the same age. Liberals are the largest demographic in the Pew study and they’re the fastest growing which makes sense when you consider Millennials are the largest generation in US history. In general, the US population is becoming more liberal.

https://benjamindavidsteele.wordpress.com/2010…

Also, higher educated people tend to get married later and so there is a higher percentage of unmarried Liberals. On the positive side, Liberals (who tend to be atheists) have the lowest divorce rate and have the highest monogamous rate of any demographic.

I’m not surprised that most people in your industry are Republicans. First, your field is technological and Republicans are attracted to engineering. Second, Pew Enterprisers (equivalent to Neocons) have the highest percentage of business owners (but Liberals have the next highest percentage of business owners).

Yes, Liberals are young and all young people by definition have less life experience. Even so, they’re going to be Liberal as they age and gain experience. Once generations come of age, they don’t tend to change their ideologies for the rest of their lives. According to Strauss and Howe, the next generation will dominate the political landscape with their Liberalism.

Anyways, don’t mistake their youth for ignorance. They’re the more well educated than those older than them. Also, they follow the news closely and they tend to seek out multiple sources.

A Portrait of “Generation Next”

I was just looking at a Pew suvey.

A Portrait of “Generation Next”
How Young People View Their Lives, Futures and Politics

Most of it I was already familiar with.  This young generation (defined as those born between 1981 and 1988) are strongly liberal and the most Democratic of any generation.  They also consist of a large percentage of atheists and agnostics.  They’re moderately interested in politics, but what is interesting is their specific political attitudes.

Generation Next is less critical of government regulation of business but also less critical of business itself. And they are the most likely of any generation to support privatization of the Social Security system.

So, they apparently are for big business just as long as there is big government regulating it.  They’re fine with privatizing Social Security which is something many conservatives supported (but I’d be interested if their position on this might change as it becomes more politicized by Republicans).  Related to all of this, they’re not critical of globalization.  They think “that automation, the outsourcing of jobs, and the growing number of immigrants have helped and not hurt American workers.”

They are progressive and optimistic.  Growing up with constant technological change, they embrace change.  Going by other data, I think there two most defining moments are the 9/11 terrorist attack (fear) and the election of President Obama (hope)… from fear to hope.

– – –

Update (1/26/11) – I just came across an NPR interview where Pew data is discussed. The page on the Pew site is dated around the same time (the following month) as the above report. So, it’s probably from the same set of data, but it is a different report. I just wanted to add this because something interesting was stated in the interview. The guest mentioned that Millennials tend to identify as liberals, that they actually use that specific label to describe themselves. In being asked “What Makes Your Generation Unique?”, 7% answered that it was because their generation is liberal/tolerant. It’s unlikely that their liberalism is to change considering they are more liberal than previous generations at the same age. This is remarkable considering how unpopular the liberal label has become with most older people. Here is what it says from the report:

To be sure, Millennials remain the most likely of any generation to self-identify as liberals; they are less supportive than their elders of an assertive national security policy and more supportive of a progressive domestic social agenda. They are still more likely than any other age group to identify as Democrats. Yet by early 2010, their support for Obama and theDemocrats had receded, as evidenced both by survey data and by their low level of participation in recent off-year and special elections.

That quote confirms another observation I’ve noted from other data (in particular, Beyond Red vs Blue). Only around a 1/3 of Democrats identify as liberal and almost 1/2 of self-identified liberals consider themselves Independents. So, there might be a loosening of the past alliance between liberals and Democrats which has existed since the Civil Rights movement. However, it’s important to note that these young liberals didn’t switch from Democrat to Republican. Like many other liberals, they’ve chosen to become Independents. Still, I suspect the Democratic Party will always have an appeal to Millennials. The Democratic Party has become identified with a positive vision of government and Millennials are the only generation that has a majority agreeing that “Government should do more to solve problems”.