Sunday, March 11, 2007

American Liberalism

It's pretty well known that self-described conservatives outnumber self-described liberals. But, as Kevin Drum notes,
Harris has been tracking liberal vs. conservative ID for several decades, and the numbers have been pretty rock solid. Ronald Reagan made conservatism slightly more popular and Clinton made it slightly less, but the changes have been modest and today we're in almost precisely the same spot as we were in 1976. What's more, the fact that this supposedly conservative country continues to favor operational liberalism hasn't changed much either. Apparently we just don't like to admit it.
I think this is important to remember and is part of the Republican overreach. We saw this with the Social Security scare. We are seeing the appreciation of liberal ideas in many states that are demanding the federal government do more to provide insurance for all children. Republicans tried to cram their conservative agenda and Americans don't like it. That's not to say that Iraq hasn't been a catalyst, but that is a symptom of the failures of conservative governance.

I consider myself a moderate because I think a deep skepticism about getting government involved in our lives is healthy. But I think there are real reasons why Americans overwhelmingly support some bedrock liberal policies: Social security, public education, medicare/medicaid, etc. We like things that work and make the country better. It just so happens that many liberal policies work and make the country better.


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