15 June 2009

The Quiet Plurality

Drudge points to this Gallup poll that puts "Conservatives" atop the heap as far as folks self identifying as either conservative, moderate, or liberal.

Looking over Gallup's graphs, I notice that the only previous time there was a 3% jump in the number of folks who identified themselves as conservative year to year, was also the year after the Executive Branch switched from GOP to DEM (from 36% in 1992 to 39% in 1993). Conservatives have been seen the 40% mark of respondents twice before (2003, 2004), and folks responding as moderate are at its lowest number since 1992 at 35%

Also of note, conservatives enjoy at least double the percentage of respondents as liberals, except in the 18-29 group where liberals slightly edge conservatives 31-30%. Interesting that the 30-49 cohort shows a huge difference in the conservative/liberal split when compared to their buddies in the younger cohort, shifting to 41-21% identification, while the next cohort, 50-64 year olds show about the same at 42-20%. That suggest to me that K-12 and universities are doing a great job convincing young adults that liberalism is wonderful, but life beats that notion out of individuals as soon as they start becoming serious wage earners. Folks in the 30-49 age bracket were just as heavily indoctrinated at school back in the 70s, 80s and 90s as today's kids, so it's not that public schools and colleges were any less liberal, it's just life takes over and disabuses individuals of their liberal utopian fantasies. I don't think the advantages liberals enjoy with younger respondents is an advantage that carries over as those people age, I bet if you dug up the 1992 poll, you'd see a similar advantage for liberal identification in the younger group then as now.

So the real challenge for conservatives is to be who they are, work on the moderates, and expose liberals for the dangerously unrealistic utopian idealists that they have always been. Liberal ideas are fantastic and high minded, until they actually get tried out in the real world, then watch out. One reason why the small percentage of adults who are committed liberals are drawn to education, I suspect. Academia is enamored of theory and they manage to remove themselves from the dirty realities of results, when their fantasies don't meet reality, it's simply cause of some other failure, not their inanely utopian thinking. It's easy enough to convince a father of two in his forties of this reality, but for some reason we allow our education system to convince students otherwise.

When conservatives compete for hearts and minds earlier and more aggressively, we will see support for liberal politicians and liberal causes erode, but there's a strong institutional bias in government, academia, and media for liberal thinking. Because of that, conservative politicians have to be faster, smarter, more creative, more honest, more transparent, and more attractive than comparable liberals. Liberals enjoy an unequal playing field, but luckily for conservatives it doesn't take many years of liberal rule to engage and enrage voters against liberal goals. Hopefully next time they rest control of Congress from the Democratic Party, they won't blow this opportunity through cronyism, corruption, and misguided attempts at legislating morality.

Conservatives (according to Gallup, but they don't have the best track record, so grain of salt time) enjoy a plurality, and for whatever reason they choose to be a 'quiet plurality', but we live in a noisy age, and it's time that conservatives find a way to counteract the liberal noise machines and expose nonsense when nonsense is being spewed (and that includes when that nonsense is being spewed by political allies).

My advice to the GOP, embrace conservatism, be a conservative/libertarian party, do not accept socialism of any kind, whether it be liberal socialist, or religious socialist. Always find ways to highlight the fruits (and responsibilities) of individualism, and seek candidates who embody these virtues. It should be a simple matter to expose the Pelosis and Durbins and Dodds and Murthas of the world, but only if you don't have any Delays and Stevens in your own party. Given the playing field, the GOP has to be cleaner than the DEMs, it's not fair, but it's also not too much to ask to earn the votes that will come the GOP way if they clean up their act.

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