The impending death of American conservatism

Pub date May 29, 2013
SectionPolitics Blog

Gallup released a poll May 24th with some remarkable new data. American liberalism–long thought to be dead and gone and receeding into New Deal memory–is ascendant. 

According to Gallup, 30% of Americans consider themselves social liberals, an all time high. And only 41% of Americans consider themselves economically conservative, an all time low.

Think about the implications of these amazing numbers for a moment. The term “liberal” has been spat out with nothing but contempt by not just right-leaning pundits, but by Republican party apparatchiks for 30 some years at least. Democrats, the “liberal” party, have run away from the tag like it was contaminated with MRSA. Which means that self-proclaimed “moderates” are very likely to be liberal as well, especially on economic issues.

What the poll doesn’t say is why this is. The reasons for the underlying shift. Some are obvious ones–the economy is improving under what is presumed to be a “liberal” presidency, which makes “liberal” synonymous with success. The other likely cause is that as the nation becomes less white, it becomes more liberal. For all the presumed conservatism of Latinos, polls have shown them to be far less conservative on economic and social issues than whites.

But I think those are ephemeral at best. The two real reasons are that in the last 35 years, virtually every Neo-con/neo-liberal/Ayn Rand-esque/Heritage Foundation idea has been tried out and all of them have failed spectacularly. Supply side economics, tried in 1981 and 2001 respectively, turned out to be an unmitigated disaster. “Pre-emptive war” was waged in Iraq with a nightmarish result. ” A two front war” was waged in the last decade, how did that work out? And the deregulation of the banks via Gramm/Leach/Bliley is the proximate cause of 2008’s worldwide meltdown. Odd thing is, the same economic ideas were ruinous in the 1920’s and if Erwin Rommel or Alfred Jodl were alive today, they could tell you how well a two front war works out. That’s reason #1  

Reason #2 has been discussed here already.

With every demographic and logical trend working against them, the American “conservative” will get shriller, louder and like petulant children, dig in their heels that much more. To our detriment as a people, of course, but since when has the well being of the nation ever mattered to them anyway?