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The Conservative Right Is Consolidating; The Left Is Moving Further Left And Dividing

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  • The Conservative Right Is Consolidating; The Left Is Moving Further Left And Dividing

    Interesting piece in the Economist I happened upon. Especially the graph below which shows that while the right is consolidating at about as conservative as they have been further in the past, the left is becoming very dispersed, with a trend toward more extreme liberal positions, almost to the point that any center-left person has little to nothing in common with the rest of the Democrat Party. Perhaps we're seeing the start of a split into a more centrist party and a more 'progressive'/socialist party (the current infighting we've seen quite vividly between Pelosi and the 4 New Fresh Faces certainly makes one think, given this).

    “CHANGE can’t wait,” repeated Ayanna Pressley after defeating Michael Capuano, a ten-term incumbent, in her Democratic primary. Three months earlier, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez pledged that her victory over Joseph Crowley, a 20-year incumbent, was “the beginning” of Medicare for all and other progressive policies in America. To the naked eye, months of left-wing victories in primary elections have placed the Democratic Party on a new path towards democratic socialism. This is misleading. The lesson of this year’s primaries is that Democratic voters are pragmatists who pick the candidate most likely to win, rather than the one who seems the most likely heir to Karl Marx.

    Ever since an exodus of white conservative southerners from the Democratic Party in the 1960s, objecting to the civil- rights movement, the party has maintained a fragile balance between a coalition of different demographic and social groups. Left-leaning college educated whites, blue-collar social conservatives and nonwhites—especially African Americans—unite under the Democratic banner to elect candidates who reflect a wide array of interests.

    Because the party is made up of a coalition of interests from diverse backgrounds, ideological debates have not typically become wedge issues for the Democrats. Whereas being pro-choice is nearly a death sentence for a Republican candidate, a Democrat can take a pro-gun position in 2018 and still find a friendly electorate (Conor Lamb in Pennsylvania is a good example). There is plenty of room for ideological disagreement inside the Democrats’ big tent. According to the Pew Research Centre, just under half of Democrats describe themselves as liberal (meaning leftish), compared with two-thirds of Republicans who say they are conservative. Democratic voters are far from being the no-compromise liberals that the victories of Ms Cortez and Ms Pressley might suggest.

    That said, the party has moved leftward a bit. The same Pew Research Centre study found that 28% of partisans described themselves as liberal in 2000, compared with 46% in 2017. The candidates have moved, too. The Economist’s analysis of a measure of candidate ideology, developed by Adam Bonica of Stanford University, finds that the average Democratic primary-winner in 2018 is indeed more liberal than in 2016 (see chart). Democratic candidates are also more scattered over the ideological spectrum than they have been in recent years. A higher share are either extremely liberal or atypically moderate compared with previous cycles.

    Data from Third Way, a centre-left think-tank, show that candidates endorsed by the progressive groups Our Revolution and Justice Democrats won their primaries no more than 37% of the time. Most of those victories came in places Republicans are almost certain to win. On the other hand, candidates belonging to the moderate New Democrat Coalition or those endorsed by the party establishment won 71 of their 78 primaries. Jim Kessler of Third Way says that voters were looking for fresh faces, not necessarily for liberal ones.

    A statistical analysis of Mr Bonica’s ideological scores reveals that the leftward drift of the Democratic Party has not resulted in primary voters placing much weight on left-wing ideology. Voters were more inclined to reward women, incumbents and candidates who seemed a good fit for their districts.

    Ms Pressley is right: change has not waited for Democrats. However, this change does not favour democratic socialists. It favours women, non-whites and party bigwigs. Indeed, to the possible dismay of the left, the centre appears to be holding.
    "When governments fear the people, there is liberty. When the people fear the government, there is tyranny."
    -Thomas Jefferson

  • #2
    AOC is accusing Pelosir as rac1ist. Apparently Pelosis is not far enough left. Then the Donald steps in and defends Pelosis. Says he doesn't find Pelosis to be raciist.


    • #3
      A split is unlikely to happen, unless we see a change in our election system allowing rank choice voting like in Maine, or all party primaries as in Ca and LA, or proportional representation. Our traditional single member districts makes it difficult for 3rd parties to compete.


      • #4
        Originally posted by ForwardInChrist48 View Post
        Interesting piece in the Economist I happened upon. Especially the graph below which shows that while the right is consolidating at about as conservative as they have been further in the past, the left is becoming very dispersed, with a trend toward more extreme liberal positions, almost to the point that any center-left person has little to nothing in common with the rest of the Democrat Party. Perhaps we're seeing the start of a split into a more centrist party and a more 'progressive'/socialist party (the current infighting we've seen quite vividly between Pelosi and the 4 New Fresh Faces certainly makes one think, given this).
        While conservatives may be "consolidating," I don't believe it's unified, and I'm not sure "consolidation" is wholly good.

        First, I'm not sure most people can accurately identify what it means to be liberal or conservative, and I base that view on conversations I have with others casually, in therapy, and here in CARM (where political conversations can be dedicated to politics and the rule to never discuss religion or politics is overtly suspended). I also live in the WDC suburbs of NoVA where life occurs in a "bubble" of politics. Conservatism as I will use it begin with the foundational premise the best way to govern is by gradual incremental change in a positive goal-oriented direction based on what has proven to work in the past and not sudden or large sweeping change based solely on the objective and political philosophy. Other conservative principles have to do with the belief in the inherent nature of human evil, the inherent nature of power to corrupt, the belief small government and financial responsibility, accountability and culpability is best, and decentralized societal institutions (like open markets and religion) are better tools than a messianic large ever-growing centralized government.

        These have always been the values of conservatism and I do not believe American conservatives are currently more consolidated than they have ever been. It's not conservative to not be consolidated. It's the left that freely embraces diversity for the sake of diversity. Conservatism embraces diversity because it helps provide more potential options for..... incremental change. Liberals embrace diversity because they are so diversely diverse they can't form a consensus unless diversity is a core value. Disparate groups that wouldn't otherwise have anything to say to one another come together collectively so they can have an influential voice. Bringing together the disparate diversity was the genius of Democrat politicians like Bill Clinton and is always the strength of the best Democrat politicians. If Barak Obama hadn't been black he'd have never been elected POTUS because his personal politics and his skills set were not form a voting block; his skin color did. So he isn't representative of the Democrat party's diversity.

        Which brings me to Trump. Trump simultaneously serves as a source of consolidation and division (division is not the same as diversity). I, for example, as a self-identified conservative evangelical fundamentalist Christian whose views are considered conservative by my liberal friends and liberal by my conservative friends find Trump a problem. First, I don't like the fact the man makes false claims and lies. Often. Note: a falsehood and a lie are not the same thing; a lie involves willful deceit. The man also has a history of being a "covenant breaker," which I don't think is good for politics, not matter where in the political perspective a person falls. My wife, and many I know love the man's politics and this is often because he's working on changes they value but often simply because he's not a politician. He does stupid stuff and that's deemed better than establishmentarian group-think that has become unnecessarily fruitless and oppositional. He has not consolidated support among his own party's legislature. If he had America would look much different. He, like his predecessors (all of them) wasted two years of same-party rule among the legislature, state governors and (too a lesser degree) the courts.

        I don't see that changing over the rest of this term or the next if he gets re-elected.

        In all likelihood he'll have a same-party Senate but not Congress for the next four years and his final two years will be lame-duck.

        And that wont have much to do with him or other politicians but more to do with the American psyche at the voting box level. We're individuals who collectively like the check and balance between different-party executive and legislative branches but are willing to give a POTUS a two year trial period of same-party branches, knowing little positive or a lot of bad will come from it. We have yet to see a POTUS who effectively wields party power for the sake of the country. They wield it for the sake of the party, but not the country, and so they end up shooting their own presidency in the foot.

        The chief obstacle to consolidated conservatism isn't liberalism or leftist politics; it's statism. Trump got elected because he wasn't a pol and he was gonna "drain the swamp" (which is nearly impossible); he was gonna be different (and he is). However, as long as the conversation remains about left v right it's not about statism. So left v right proves to be a diversion, a feint behind which statists are happy to take shelter. In this regard there is very little difference between Mitch McConnel and Chuck Shumer, Patrick Leahy and Chuck Grassley, or Nancy Pelosi and Kevin McCarthy or Jim Jordan. These are politicians who see being a politician as an end in itself and the state as the preeminent centralized source of control over society. In this regard the left has much more inclined with the statist movement or philosophy (as evidenced by the left pols greatly exceeding conservative pols in length of service).

        Proper conservatism does not see the federal government (capital "S" State) as the solution to society's problems so the idea of "consolidation" is always going to be about philosophy, not power for conservatives. Classical conservative embrace a two-party system. Whereas on the left, the power and politics of OAC versus Pelosi or McConnell are simply variations on the common theme of statism. Because of this modern politics is fairly fundamentally removed from that of the colonial era (with the possible exception of Alexander Hamilton). Even the debate between federalism and antifederalism/confederalism looked much different.

        Hope this makes op-relevant sense.

        I will add: the Economist research/article is probably best understood through the lens/filter/eyes of.... and economist and not left/right politics in more generals terms, but even there I don't think there's been much change among conservatives in terms of "consolidiation," except in comparison to what has always been a politically diverse left that ebbs and flows in its ability to garner consensus.
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