Conservatism is Alive and Well

BurkeIt has become popular to sound the death-knell of Conservatism.  I believe the evidence indicates otherwise.

The latest polls indicate that Conservatism is in great shape.  A plurality of Americans consider themselves conservative.

http://www.gallup.com/poll/120857/Conservatives-Single-Largest-Ideological-Group.aspx

At 40% self-identified conservatives are almost twice as numerous as self-identified liberals at 21%.

Americans in another recent gallup poll also indicate by a 2-1 margin that their views are becoming more conservative.

http://www.lifenews.com/nat5197.html

Polling also indicates that Americans want smaller government and less taxation.

http://www.washingtonexaminer.com/politics/Getting-cold-feet-over-Democratic-proposals-7938186-50163217.html

Finally, Obama’s polling numbers are going down steadily.

http://hotair.com/archives/2009/07/08/confidence-in-obama-economy-still-dropping/

The GOP lost in 2006 and 2008 because more than a few of their voters decided that there was no difference between them and the Democrats on government spending.  Now the Democrats are proving dramatically that those voters were quite mistaken.  I expect to see Republicans and conservatives come roaring back in 2010 especially if, as I fear, the economy continues to tank under the massive spending of the Obama administration.

29 Responses to Conservatism is Alive and Well

  • Matt McDonald says:

    I think part of the reason that self-identified conservatism and pro-life are on the rise is not so much that people’s beliefs are changing, but because they are starting to realize what it is to be pro-choice and liberal by watching Obama.

    I believe Bush’s +/- did not hit that low until late in his first term, am I mistaken? How long did it take Carter to get that low? Just curious.

  • Anthony says:

    Don,

    Do you believe the GOP is legitimately conservative? Do you think that if they came “roaring” back in 2010 that they would have learned from their mistakes from 1994-2006?

    As I’ve said before, my major sticking point with the GOP is on spending and foreign policy. The Republicans can talk all they want about reigning in social programs and spending, but in the arena of the military industrial complex, they have no qualms with a perpetual distortion of the economy to keep the U.S. on a war-footing. To me that says the party is neither interested in a true peace nor is it interested in a defensive strategy for the country that does not exacerbate brewing conflicts. It makes them closer to their liberal counterparts.

    I think there are glints of hope, but for me it comes from the more libertarian wing of the party. I’m more interested in seeing if Peter Schiff runs and takes on Chris Dodd in Connecticut or if Rand Paul can mount a proper run in Kentucky. For any one paying attention to the House, it seems as if Ron Paul is finally being taken seriously by his own party on monetary and economic matters. His H.R. 1207 bill to audit the Fed is a major victory for him regardless of whether it passes. Ideologically speaking, what Paul represents is the genuine enemy to Obama’s socialism/statism.

    If the Republicans regain a modicum of congressional power and then immediately go back to business as usual… well it will only prove their irrelevance to those of us who lean conservative but have left the GOP.

  • jh says:

    Anthony

    I guess it all comes down to what Conservative is. I have stated for some time that the various conservatisms being at eachg other throat and wanting to expell the other branches has been counterproductive. I very much would like to return to the world of I agree with you on 70 to 80 percent of things and will agree to disagree on the other 30 to 20 percent.

    However each branch (The Paleos, The Decicit hawks, the Cruncy Cons, the Libertarians, the neo cons, the social conservatives) like the French Revolution just keep yelling purity purity purity. As we see in the French Revolutuon that did not work out so well.

    At some point people did to fight things out in the primary and learn to work together

  • e. says:

    Donald,

    The latest polls indicate that Conservatism is in great shape.  A plurality of Americans consider themselves conservative.

    I think it should be pointed out that “Conservative” has been defined, re-defined and re-defined yet again; the most current definition (that which the general populace might regard as “conservative”) might actually be what was formerly considered in preceding years “liberal”, at the very least.

  • Joe Hargrave says:

    Now, this is a funny post, given that I just had an article posted on Inside Catholic today arguing that conservatism’s prospects don’t look so good.

    http://insidecatholic.com/Joomla/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=6416&Itemid=48

    Depending on how you word a political question, you can get people to agree to just about anything. I can also point to polls where the majority of Americans support national health insurance.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2007/03/01/washington/01cnd-poll.html

    This was a pretty big factor in the 08 election too. No one wants to hear that “healthcare is a privilege” and not a right. A candidate who doesn’t look serious about ensuring that all Americans receive health coverage is doomed. The GOP is incapable of saying much more beyond “government shouldn’t do it”. That’s just not enough anymore.

    There are polls like this, which show a generational gap that could be deadly for the GOP in the future:

    http://www.americanprogress.org/issues/2008/05/progressive_generation.htm

    As a “millennial” (boardering on Gen-X), I concur with the assessment made here. And I think this part of Obama’s appeal. Then there are the demographic shifts which will make whites a minority by the middle of the century, maybe the end of the century. I guarantee these latest polls don’t take into account the millions of potential Hispanic voters.

    That said, here’s what I think: conservatism as an ideology may do alright, but the GOP as a party is dying a slow, painful death.

    In the end, many Americans want things that are contradictory given the political options they have available. What matters most are political priorities. If the majority of Americans are pro-life, that’s great – but how important is it next to the economy, next to other issues? If its at the bottom of the list, then it doesn’t matter.

  • Anthony says:

    “However each branch (The Paleos, The Decicit hawks, the Cruncy Cons, the Libertarians, the neo cons, the social conservatives) like the French Revolution just keep yelling purity purity purity.”

    I don’t know if I’m looking for purity so much as I am honesty. The only place where I’m more inclined towards “purity” is in the Constitution. The only honest way to govern, IMHO, is by holding to it in the extreme. If there are provisions that we disagree with or think are no longer sustainable, then we ought to have the intellectual honesty and willingness to amend it, rather than just go off any which way we choose and chalk it up to “interpretation”.

  • Donald R. McClarey says:

    “At some point people did to fight things out in the primary and learn to work together.”

    Agreed, and I think by 2010 what has happened this year under the Obama administration will be a great unifier. I always have contended that Jimmy Carter made more conservative converts than Ronald Reagan ever did. Mr. Obama is now providing the same service.

  • Steve says:

    Given that eulogies were delivered for the GOP in 1992 and for the Dems in 1994, 2002 and 2004, I’m suspect of any claim that a party is about to die.

    That said, to hell with the GOP. I’ve tired of their pro-life lip-service. Few Republicans have stood up against the culture of death except for token gestures to NRTL. We’ve even seen Republicans here vote AGAINST measures that would ban state funding to institutions that perform late-term abortions in caucus because it would bolster the credentials of certain pro-life Democrats. Even the Republicans against abortion turn a blind eye toward or are complicit in massive contraception funding.

    Enough talk about reform. It’s time for revolution.

  • e. says:

    Given that eulogies were delivered for the GOP in 1992…

    The GOP has already gone the way of the Whigs; you just haven’t realized it.

    I mean, come on: a liberal like George W. Bush regarded as “conservative”?

    The new breed is not ‘GOP’; the GOP died long ago.

  • jh says:

    “I mean, come on: a liberal like George W. Bush regarded as “conservative”?

    The new breed is not ‘GOP’; the GOP died long ago.”

    Bush was not a liberal. Again there are many branches of conservative thought and we have to dela with that. If the Bush’s of the world are liberals then we can have the GOP convention in a phone booth.

  • Donald R. McClarey says:

    Gripes about the GOP have been a staple on the Right long before Barry Goldwater, and I have sometimes engaged in such griping myself. The simple truth is that there is no other party for winning elections by conservatives other than the GOP. Libertarians, considering how long they been around, have shown a complete inability to attract votes. Third parties, such as the Constitution Party, are a complete waste of time if the goal is to actually win elections rather than to vent. The GOP is the conservative party in this country and the goal of conservatives should be to increase their dominance within that party.

  • Donald R. McClarey says:

    Agreed Steve and that is why it is important for conservatives to increase their dominance in the party. The Stop Rudi movement last year helped prevent Giuliani from coming within shouting distance of the nomination last year. Similiar movements can be utilized to prevent those who are not fiscally conservative from winning nominations. By 2010 I think the political environment will be favorable to conservatives, especially in Republican primary elections.

  • In the end, many Americans want things that are contradictory given the political options they have available.

    I think that’s a good point, Joe. Though part of that contradicts the mandate for universal health care: Polls generally show that while Americans are in favor of universal health care, they are not in favor of higher taxes, of the government rationing health care, or the government telling them where they can get covered health care. Classic case of the people being in favor of having cake so long as that won’t prevent them from eating it first. Where this will all end up is hard to say, but I have serious doubts that the idea that general opinion has actually shifted much at all to the left — just as claims that it had shifted much to the right in 94-04 were exaggerated.

    e. & Steve,

    For sure, the GOP is not as conservative as many would like, and I think everyone has standing beefs with it’s recent direction. (My own have to do with immigration and fiscal responsibility.) One of the things that the American two party system tends to do, though, is draw both parties towards the center of gravity. If we had half a dozen or more viable political parties like a lot of parliamentary democracies, we might be able to find niche parties more precisely to our liking, but given the American system we’re pretty much left to try to make sure our own ideas gain the upper hand within the wider GOP.

    I’ve always thought it would be interesting if the two major parties split into 4-6 medium-sized ones, but I don’t see it as very likely since so many political forces reinforce unity. Given that, taking our toys and going home doesn’t really do conservatives much good.

  • e. says:

    Bush was not a liberal…

    George W. Bush not a liberal?

    The man who single handedly destroyed the remnants of social conservatism — something even his opponents would never have done — not a liberal?

    Truly, conservatism (as it was once known) is dead.

  • Steve says:

    Donald and Darwin,

    Sorry for getting a little hot under the collar, here. Just thinking about the way the GOP and some of the high-profile right to life orgs have double-crossed the pro-life movement gets me a little fiery. It drives me nuts that W. has pro-life cred when he became the first prez to fund research on the destruction of human life.

    That said, I fear we are witnessing the opposite of Darwin’s ideal of having 4-6 smaller niche parties. Rather than having two parties, we have just one. I certainly don’t think McCain would be as awful as Obama. But I do feel pretty confident that policy (particularly fiscal) would be quite similar in nature.

    I don’t think the two party system is anchored to the center to appeal to the masses. I think it’s anchored to the center because the same interests fund both parties.

    The powers that be offer us two alternatives that both advance their ends, and I suspect they care little who wins. For 20 years we’ve gotten identical policy from both parties: Center-right on foreign policy, unapologetic defense of Israeli aggression, fiscal irresponsibility, and center-left on pro-life issues.

  • Art Deco says:

    The Republicans can talk all they want about reigning in social programs and spending, but in the arena of the military industrial complex, they have no qualms with a perpetual distortion of the economy to keep the U.S. on a war-footing.

    If I am not mistaken, the share of domestic product accounted for by military expenditure has increased from 3.6% to 4.4% in the last decade.

  • Anthony says:

    Libertarians need to take over the Republican party. Its that simple. I agree with Don, the libertarian party has been unable to attract votes. I think that is due in part to their own awkward, compromised platform.

    Ironically, Peter Schiff today announced his exploratory committee to run as a Republican from Connecticut. As a guy who predicted the economic collapse for years while being laughed at, I wish him luck. Like Rep. Paul, I doubt he’ll be able to count on his own party to support him.

    But if Schiff can make it through the primary, I think he has a better than 50/50 shot at sending Chris Dodd home. Good riddance, I say.

    The GOP must return to its principles and then deliver on them. That’s why they’ve been loosing. It won’t be long before the Obama-luster starts to wear off big time…

  • John Henry says:

    It’s not clear to me that conservatism qua conservatism is winning so much as the economy isn’t improving, and people (irrationally in many cases) blame whoever happens to be President for what’s going on in the economy. If the economy recovers in time for the mid-terms, Obama and the Congressional Democrats will be fine. If it doesn’t they won’t and he may be in trouble in 2012 (if the GOP can find a candidate). But I don’t think it means conservatism is alive and well – although reports of its death (like liberalism in 2004) may have been greatly exaggerated.

  • Blackadder says:

    I don’t think the two party system is anchored to the center to appeal to the masses. I think it’s anchored to the center because the same interests fund both parties.

    So it’s just a coincidence that the policies of both parties tend towards the center?

  • Steve says:

    B.A.,

    I dispute the notion that policy of both parties gravitates toward center. As it has been previously mentioned in this thread, the center jumps all over. When we only have two mainstream parties, the center will be halfway between each party, almost by definition.

    It’s all relativism. I think many of us here would agree that neither party is anywhere near the middle on fiscal policy. A true fiscal centrist, these days, would be derided as an extreme, right-wing capitalist.

  • Donald R. McClarey says:

    The center shifts depending on events. The election of Reagan signaled a shift to the right in many areas. Reagan, with many false steps to be sure, helped lay the groundwork for a formidable resurgence of the GOP which did not end until 2006. Now Obama, in his own way, is helping lay the groundwork for such a resurgence again.

    http://www.rasmussenreports.com/public_content/politics/obama_administration/daily_presidential_tracking_poll

    I agree with John Henry that much, as always in American politics, depends upon the economy. That is why while I am optimistic politically I think this coming winter will be rather grim, unfortunately, economically. I am besieged currently with more bankruptcies and foreclosures than I have ever experienced before. If the economy has hit bottom, one would not know it from Central Illinois. Here I think the worst is yet to come, and I have been giving this warning to all of my clients, both institutional and individual.

  • Blackadder says:

    I dispute the notion that policy of both parties gravitates toward center. As it has been previously mentioned in this thread, the center jumps all over. When we only have two mainstream parties, the center will be halfway between each party, almost by definition.

    The center will be halfway between the two parties only insofar as those parties gravitate towards the center. To take an extreme example, if one of the parties were to come out in favor of cannibalism, this wouldn’t move the center towards a more pro-cannibal position, but would only serve to marginalize that party.

  • Steve says:

    B.A.,

    I think that point is pretty absurd.

    But if we will enter the realm of the absurd, than I’d counter by saying I suspect if there were a pro-cannibalism organization with a great deal of money and clout or a strong cannibalism union, that we’d be hearing a lot about how cannibalism is only one issue among many or that “I voted for him in spite of his pro-cannibalistic viewpoints.”

    At various points in time this last half century, you could have made that same point substituting abortion, embryonic stem cell research, cloning, same-sex marriage, and a whole host of other issues for cannibalism.

  • Blackadder says:

    At various points in time this last half century, you could have made that same point substituting abortion, embryonic stem cell research, cloning, same-sex marriage, and a whole host of other issues for cannibalism.

    True. If public opinion were to become more pro-cannibal, so would the politicians (as Mencken wrote of Harry Truman “[i]f there had been any formidable body of cannibals in the country, he would have promised to provide them with free missionaries fattened at the taxpayers’ expense.”) But in that case the political parties would be following public opinion, not the other way around.

  • Elaine Krewer says:

    If, as Don predicts, “the worst is yet to come” economically, that could cut both ways when it comes to conservatism/liberalism.

    While right now it seems to be producing a groundswell of tax revolts and demands to rein in government spending, cut social programs, etc., it could also have the opposite effect as more people find themselves in need of government-funded or supported services.

  • Donald R. McClarey says:

    Not if they blame the Obama policies Elaine for producing an Obama recession or, God Forbid!, an Obama depression. What the government is doing now is completely opposite from what it should be doing to encourage economic growth. Unfortunately a great many people are going to get a very nasty lesson in what happens when we have, at best, a double dip recession.

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