Politics Magazine

Conservatism Is Declining In The United States

Posted on the 30 May 2014 by Jobsanger
Conservatism Is Declining In The United States
Conservatism Is Declining In The United States
The Gallup Poll surveys Americans at least yearly on whether they are conservative or liberal. The most recent of these surveys was done between May 8th and 11th of a nationwide sample of 1,028 adults (with a margin of error of 4 points). It has been normal in the past few decades for more Americans to claim to be conservative, and while that is true, the gap between those claiming to be conservatives and those saying they are liberals is declining.
Especially in recent years, there are two kinds of conservatives & liberals -- those who claim those labels on social issues and those who claim them on economic issues. As the top chart shows, the gap between conservatives and liberals on social issues has closed dramatically in just the last 15 years -- from 18 points in 1999 to only 4 points in 2014. Issues like same-sex marriage and the legalization of marijuana reflect this huge change in public opinion.
The change on economic issues, at least as reflected by the poll, has not been that dramatic -- moving only from a 28 point gap in 1999 to a 21 point gap in 2014. While I appreciate that this is a move in the right direction, I have some doubt as to whether it reflects the reality of where Americans stand on economic policy.
For instance, substantial majorities of Americans oppose cutting Social Security benefits, oppose eliminating Medicare, support the expansion of Medicaid, oppose more tax cuts for the rich and the corporations, support increasing taxes on the rich, support removing subsidies & loopholes that allow corporations to avoid pay taxes, oppose cutting the SNAP Program (food stamps), and oppose cuts to education and the EPA. Those are all liberal ideas, and no true (economic) conservative would hold those views.
That tells me that while Americans claim to be conservative, they actually support the economic policies of the liberals. How can this be? The Republicans have spent the past few decades trying to brand liberals as "tax and spend" politicians and conservatives as "fiscally-responsible" politicians, and they have been pretty successful in that effort -- in spite of the fact that there is no truth in the assertion. The Republicans actually spend more than the Democrats do. They just don't spend it to help the bulk of the American people. They prefer to put more money into the military-industrial complex and to spend money to provide advantages for the rich and the corporations.
There have only been two presidents in recent memory that actually reduced the budget deficit -- Bill Clinton (who eliminated it) and Barack Obama (who substantially lowered it). Every single Republican, including conservative icon Ronald Reagan, increased the budget deficit (and the national debt).
Americans have been deluded into believing that conservatives are fiscally responsible, and since they want to be viewed that way, they claim to be conservatives. But while they may still accept that lie, they no longer want the failed fiscal policies of the GOP -- and actually prefer the policies put forward by liberals. Hopefully, the public will soon realize that "liberal" is not a dirty word, but a path to both social and economic sanity.

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