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A Center-Right Country.

WilliamJB

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The claim is often made, mostly on the right, of course, that America is fundamentally a center-right country.

I actually don't necessarily disagree with this statement, though I feel it might be a little simplistic.

What to other members of this forum think? Is this country, at its core, a center-right country? Why or why not, and what does this statement ultimately mean?
 

samsmart

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The claim is often made, mostly on the right, of course, that America is fundamentally a center-right country.

I actually don't necessarily disagree with this statement, though I feel it might be a little simplistic.

What to other members of this forum think? Is this country, at its core, a center-right country? Why or why not, and what does this statement ultimately mean?

"Trust the Americans to do the right thing, after exhausting all other options." - Winston Churchill
 

Wiseone

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The claim is often made, mostly on the right, of course, that America is fundamentally a center-right country.

I actually don't necessarily disagree with this statement, though I feel it might be a little simplistic.

What to other members of this forum think? Is this country, at its core, a center-right country? Why or why not, and what does this statement ultimately mean?

I think the modern definitions of right/left and conservative/liberal are so removed from their meanings at the time of this country's creation that its meaningless to try and label the past with them.
 

RightinNYC

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If you ask people to identify themselves as liberal, independent or conservative, you usually see a 20-40-40 breakdown. That would put the median voter somewhere around the center-right. I don't think there's much more to it than that.
 

tacomancer

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If you ask people to identify themselves as liberal, independent or conservative, you usually see a 20-40-40 breakdown. That would put the median voter somewhere around the center-right. I don't think there's much more to it than that.

What gets me though is if you look at labels, you are right. People tend to self identify as more conservative.

However, if you look at issues, people tend to be middle left overall, some issues they identify with the right though.

Ultimately, it makes me think that this is a matter of marketing over substance.

Examples:
http://abcnews.go.com/images/PollingUnit/1089a6HotButtonIssues.pdf <- a bunch of stuff
Civil Rights <- gay marriage (for)
Stem Cell Research <- stem cell research (for)
ABCNEWS.com : Poll: Stem-Cell Support Steady
TIME Poll: 61% of Americans Oppose 'Ground Zero Mosque' - TIME <- ground zero mosque (strongly against)
Daily Number: Future of the Bush Tax Cuts - Pew Research Center <- bush tax cuts again (I think this is a better quality survey than the polling report one) (neither side wins)
Americans Oppose Renewing U.S. Combat Operations in Iraq <- in favor of ending iraq war (even though this one is moot now)
http://www.pollingreport.com/guns.htm <- gun control (most prefer the current laws not be changed)
http://pewresearch.org/pubs/1535/poll-state-local-governments-laws-banning-sale-possession-handguns <-- gun control opinions heading rightward
http://www.gallup.com/poll/1576/abortion.aspx <-- abortion holding steady

The stimulus one is interesting, the opinion almost seems schizophrenic.
CNN Poll: 3 of 4 Americans say much of stimulus money wasted - CNN <- stimulus money seen as wasted
Americans Back More Stimulus Spending to Create Jobs <- americans back more stimulus

(I wasn't able to find anything good on general federal spending or taxation, I keep getting historical entries for poll taxes, I will try to think of a better search term if I get some time today.)

There are probably more social issues, but its early and my brain hasn't woken up yet.

The way I interpret this is while overall, the idea of conservatism seems good, when you get to specifics, people are slightly more liberal. Overall, the march towards a more liberal way of doing things in the social sector remains unabated because of this slight preference and that is why there are more and more fundamentalist conservatives as they seek to preserve what they know as good. Ultimately this is why there is preaching in the churches that America is going to hell in a handbasket and that we need to restore honor and what not. These people are (understandably, given their view on things) against the change that is slowly taking place from generation to generation. Ultimately, this is probably a reason people self identify as conservative, because of that change and the insecurity they feel in the face of it (with cries of, the world was so much better when I was younger!) Of course, that is all opinion and speculation and open to change as more data comes to light.
 
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Gardener

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Center right by what standards?

As far as i see it, the current struggle politically has to do with the paradox inherent in the way conservatism is described in terms of preserving social institutions, but when the social institutions are already liberal, then they need to be preserved in order to support actual liberal ideology.
 

WilliamJB

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If you ask people to identify themselves as liberal, independent or conservative, you usually see a 20-40-40 breakdown. That would put the median voter somewhere around the center-right. I don't think there's much more to it than that.

I'd be interested to see a source for those numbers if you have one handy.
 

RightinNYC

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I'd be interested to see a source for those numbers if you have one handy.

In 2010, Conservatives Still Outnumber Moderates, Liberals

iglnwvn0jeaslencabs5iq.gif
 

Civil1z@tion

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If you consider the United States in the broader context of politics in the developed world then there is no question this is a right-leaning country, particularly on economic issues (somewhat less on social issues actually but probably still more center-right than average). Even liberal economic ideas in the US are typically considered centrist and in some cases center-right in Europe (Japan is rather different in that regard and its harder to break them down on traditional Western left-right ideas). Meanwhile, republicans ideas are firmly right wing compared to most other countries politics. So as far as that goes, there is no argument.

As to any other definition, left and right are relative terms. The average political belief is always centrist within a particular country. If the center shifts right or left it has not become center-right or center-left, it has become the new center. So talking about American politics being "center-right" or "center-left" without the wider context of politics in similar countries is meaningless.
 

washunut

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The claim is often made, mostly on the right, of course, that America is fundamentally a center-right country.

I actually don't necessarily disagree with this statement, though I feel it might be a little simplistic.

What to other members of this forum think? Is this country, at its core, a center-right country? Why or why not, and what does this statement ultimately mean?

Talking about the country as a whole is probably to broad. As there seem to be meaningful differences by region.

That being said overall, I think a majority of people are socially left of center. This means that they accept things like gay marriage, womens choice, all people regardless of race, religion etc should be treated the same.

I think fiscally people are a bit right of center. That is they want the government to control the budget, understand that we need some regulation but don't want a European style economy. Most people want a capitalist style economy where they have a shot at moving up the economic ladder.

Maybe I am saying the above because those are where I would come out of most issues.
 

RightinNYC

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Talking about the country as a whole is probably to broad. As there seem to be meaningful differences by region.

That being said overall, I think a majority of people are socially left of center. This means that they accept things like gay marriage, womens choice, all people regardless of race, religion etc should be treated the same.

I think fiscally people are a bit right of center. That is they want the government to control the budget, understand that we need some regulation but don't want a European style economy. Most people want a capitalist style economy where they have a shot at moving up the economic ladder.

Maybe I am saying the above because those are where I would come out of most issues.

Just a note re: gay marriage - there has been only one poll that has ever shown a majority of people supporting gay marriage, and that was with questionable wording. Pretty much every other poll shows the country as being substantially opposed to gay marriage.
 
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joe six-pack

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The claim is often made, mostly on the right, of course, that America is fundamentally a center-right country.

I actually don't necessarily disagree with this statement, though I feel it might be a little simplistic.

What to other members of this forum think? Is this country, at its core, a center-right country? Why or why not, and what does this statement ultimately mean?
I think "Centeral Right" is a meaningless term to describe the United States. Political views are too complex to boil down to strictly Right or Left.

The country has become progressively Left-leaning for the past hundred years, so I can't see how we can be described as a Conservative country.

For the record, I consider my views to be a mixture of both ideologies. When it comes down to it, most people could be described that way.
 

Civil1z@tion

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Talking about the country as a whole is probably to broad. As there seem to be meaningful differences by region.

That being said overall, I think a majority of people are socially left of center. This means that they accept things like gay marriage, womens choice, all people regardless of race, religion etc should be treated the same.

I think fiscally people are a bit right of center. That is they want the government to control the budget, understand that we need some regulation but don't want a European style economy. Most people want a capitalist style economy where they have a shot at moving up the economic ladder.

Maybe I am saying the above because those are where I would come out of most issues.

While I'd like what you're saying to be true, I gotta say I think you're overestimating the public's liberalism on social issues given gay marriage still can get a plurality of support nation-wide in polls, and given that as of 2007 55% of Americans believe the Constitution founded the US as a Christian nation (despite no reference to Christianity anywhere in that document) I don't think that most people believe religions should actually be treated the same (like, for instance, not automatically having people swear on bibles in court). I have to think you're being biased by your own (and possibly your friends'/family members') opinions on the matter.
 

washunut

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Just a note re: gay marriage - there has been only one poll that has ever shown a majority of people supporting gay marriage, and that was with questionable wording. Pretty much every other poll shows the country as being substantially opposed to gay marriage.

I think if people used the term civil unions the response would be more positive.
 

WilliamJB

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Talking about the country as a whole is probably to broad. As there seem to be meaningful differences by region.

That being said overall, I think a majority of people are socially left of center. This means that they accept things like gay marriage, womens choice, all people regardless of race, religion etc should be treated the same.

I think fiscally people are a bit right of center. That is they want the government to control the budget, understand that we need some regulation but don't want a European style economy. Most people want a capitalist style economy where they have a shot at moving up the economic ladder.

Maybe I am saying the above because those are where I would come out of most issues.

Yeah, I often feel like this country is ultimately, more accurately, a libertarian country. I also think that libertarians, largely because of the parade of wack-jobs that are often associated with the Libertarian Party, self-indentify as conservatives, even though they are either ambivalent or hostile towards social/cultural conservative values. I'm thinking of abortion here, where the GOP is almost always far to the right of the majority of Americans on this issue.
 

WilliamJB

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Thanks for the link. Interesting graph.

Again, I'm not disputing the fact that a plurality of Americans identify as either conservatives or moderates, but I think what this most accurately reflects is the current Reagan coalition of foreign policy hawks, free market and business interests, and Christian conservatives. I'd love to see some data from the 50s and 60s when the New Deal coalition was still dominant, and liberal wasn't the dirty word it is today.
 

RightinNYC

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Thanks for the link. Interesting graph.

Again, I'm not disputing the fact that a plurality of Americans identify as either conservatives or moderates, but I think what this most accurately reflects is the current Reagan coalition of foreign policy hawks, free market and business interests, and Christian conservatives. I'd love to see some data from the 50s and 60s when the New Deal coalition was still dominant, and liberal wasn't the dirty word it is today.

I'm not aware of anything going back that far, but you can't really blame Reagan for this. ANES data is a little different because it uses a 7-point scale, but shows a similar disparity:

Liberal-Conservative Self-Identification

g3_1_1.gif


The percent of people who identify as liberal in 2008 is the same as in the early 70s.
 

WilliamJB

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I think "Centeral Right" is a meaningless term to describe the United States. Political views are too complex to boil down to strictly Right or Left.

The country has become progressively Left-leaning for the past hundred years, so I can't see how we can be described as a Conservative country.

For the record, I consider my views to be a mixture of both ideologies. When it comes down to it, most people could be described that way.

Interesting point. Looking at the 20th century as a whole, government policy has more often than not moved in a leftward direction. I'm think of passage of the 19th Amendment, the repeal of prohibition, the end of the Lochner era on the Supreme Court in 1936, the New Deal, Johnson's Great Society, the Civil Rights movement, Roe, Lawrence, etc. While there have certainly been periods of rightward policy movement during the 80s and, to a lesser extent, the 90s, I would argue that the lasting, long-term structure of government policy has tended leftward overall.

Of course, this doesn't necessarily say anything about the self-identification of the majorty of Americans.
 

CriticalThought

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The claim is often made, mostly on the right, of course, that America is fundamentally a center-right country.

I actually don't necessarily disagree with this statement, though I feel it might be a little simplistic.

What to other members of this forum think? Is this country, at its core, a center-right country? Why or why not, and what does this statement ultimately mean?

Center right to what? One of the reasons it might seem simplistic is because nobody provides the reference scale on which the county's political slant is allegedly being measured.
 

CriticalThought

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I'm not aware of anything going back that far, but you can't really blame Reagan for this. ANES data is a little different because it uses a 7-point scale, but shows a similar disparity:

Liberal-Conservative Self-Identification

g3_1_1.gif


The percent of people who identify as liberal in 2008 is the same as in the early 70s.

Absolutely meaningless. The word "liberal" does not mean the same thing now as it did in the 70s.
 

RightinNYC

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Absolutely meaningless. The word "liberal" does not mean the same thing now as it did in the 70s.

That may affect the meaning of the information, but doesn't make it meaningless. if we're discussing whether people consider themselves liberal and want historical info, I don't know that there's anything better.
 

WilliamJB

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I'm not aware of anything going back that far, but you can't really blame Reagan for this. ANES data is a little different because it uses a 7-point scale, but shows a similar disparity:

Liberal-Conservative Self-Identification

g3_1_1.gif


The percent of people who identify as liberal in 2008 is the same as in the early 70s.

Cool. Also an intersting graph. I'm actually surprised at the numbers in the early 70s. I would have thought that Watergate might have had an effect of that. I think the biggest take-away from this, though, is the fact that party doesn't seem to be all that strongly correlated with ideological self-identification. This makes sense pre-1968, but is a bit harder to understand more recently. Particularly when considering that the Democrats controlled congress for the majority of the period between 1970 and today.
 

WilliamJB

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That may affect the meaning of the information, but doesn't make it meaningless. if we're discussing whether people consider themselves liberal and want historical info, I don't know that there's anything better.

Agreed. I'm actually just as interested in trying to get a handle on what "liberal" meant historically, as well as in the contemporary context. The fact that people were reluctant to call themselves liberal back then says something about what the term meant to them, if not what it means today, or in general.
 

CriticalThought

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That may affect the meaning of the information, but doesn't make it meaningless. if we're discussing whether people consider themselves liberal and want historical info, I don't know that there's anything better.

A liberal in the 70s probably did not support gay marriage, would not necessarily have been pro choice, would have likely supported more offshore drilling given the oil shortage then, would probably have supported tougher immigration policies, etc.

It's meaningless because it doesn't measure the same thing.
 

CriticalThought

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Agreed. I'm actually just as interested in trying to get a handle on what "liberal" meant historically, as well as in the contemporary context. The fact that people were reluctant to call themselves liberal back then says something about what the term meant to them, if not what it means today, or in general.

The innovation adoption curve.

File:Diffusionofideas.PNG - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Whether it is new technology or political ideas, it follows the same pattern. Liberals are just the innovators and early adopters whereas conservatives tend to be the late majority and laggards. Conservatism is ultimately about maintaining the status quo, and liberalism is about changing it, so that is why there is a fairly consistent percentage of liberals and a fairly consistent percentage of conservatives.

As far as being ashamed of being out about political orientation, that depends on how well whoever is in power was doing. People were a lot less open about being Republican when Bush was in power and things weren't going so well. The same is true for liberals now that Obama is in power and things are not going so well.
 
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