America is officially a Center-Left Country (Young Turks)

On how America is a center-left country, and the younger voters are more left wing than their elders. Cenk Uygur of Current TV’s “Young Turks” explains:

On former wedge issues such as gay marriage, on marijuana legalization, on progressive income taxes– on a whole range of issues a clear majority of Americans, especially younger Americans, takes the left wing position.

What Mr. Uygur doesn’t say enough about is how the center-left majority in opinion polls doesn’t translate sufficiently into political power in Washington, because the people most likely to vote (especially in midterms and for state legislatures) are older, whiter and richer than the general population.

But he is right that the opinion polls show the country trending significantly leftward, as John Judis predicted some years ago.

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5 Responses

  1. I think this vision of a leftward march is ill-conceived, at least if inspired by the issues above.

    Is marijuana legalisation, an idea endorsed by conservative poo-bahs from Buckley to Steyn, a left-wing position? It might be, but not exclusively. Indeed, it coheres with the libertarian tenor of the right, especially the young right.

    That’s what’s missed in the comments above: America’s young are more “liberal” (in the American sense) but also more liberal (in the classical sense). One is left, one is right, but both tend to the same positions on the social issues above.

    • Hi, Soren. The opinion polling among youth, as well as their voting behavior, makes it clear that they are actually trending left, and not just trending Libertarian. The minority that favors the Republican Party among them is probably more oriented to that wing of the party.

      • Oh, generally, I’d agree: Young Americans endorsed Obama more often than not. The tendency of the young is to idealism, to change, to the trendy beliefs of their heroes and their peers.

        It’s fact, but one wonders if there’s anything new and exciting about it.

        It might be the case that the young voted for the Democrats and the Republicans in more equal measure in the past, but — as you know — these were not then the parties of today.

        One could vote for a conservative Democrat, or progressive Democrat; a conservative Republican, or liberal Republican.

        The choices today are more stark, with one party “left” and another “right”.

        Comparisons between past and present partisan alignment among the young don’t seem to indicate an electorate marching left; rather, they point to one party — the Democrats — shifting left and so gaining the support of its traditional constituents.

        That’s my point: Young voters favor change, hope, the left, but they always have. Age will see some to the right, as has always been the case.

        If the issues mentioned — pot, gays and tax — are the basis of this vision, then the argument grows more complex and the vision more convincing.

        (I’ve already gone on too long, so I’ll try to keep this short.)

        Burke wrote that the best way to maintain a favored social order was, when required by need and reason, to modify it.

        He advised to do so with caution and in increments: That’s what’s happening on the thinking right.

        Dick Cheney is no less a conservative for advocating that marriage, that family values, that the family unit be extended to include same-sex couples. He’s doing as the grand conservative poo-bah prescribed.

        If anything, the gay uptake in beige-pants monogamy should strike us all as profoundly conservative. It used to be, “We’re here! We’re queer! Get used to it!” Now it’s, “Pass that ring, those vows and the chance to raise the next generation.”

        The distinction between “left” and “right” is not about conclusions, but how and why those conclusions are reached.

        The “right” is amending its conclusions. It always has. Its electorate, in the polls to which you point, reflect those amendments.

        • It’s foolish to say that the Right is amending its positions until one can say who actually controls that function on the Right, and what their agenda is.

          Is the Right the capitalist class on the top, the yuppie libertarian cult that worships capitalism that actual, cynical capitalists know is a fantasy, the ugly racist populism of older working class whites, or the religious extremist movement that tries to unite them all under its opiates?

          We must assume that in a capitalist country, capitalists have an agenda. They certainly have the resources to choose which other special interest groups to manipulate and fit into its plans. The logical interest of a capitalist, personal values aside, is: (a) cut wages, (b) increase sales, until he has all money and we have none. Which is impossible, as Marx pointed out, thus leading to the boom & bust cycles of the laissez-faire era that radicalized the workers before the New Deal.

          Let’s say that those capitalists who lack a social conscience wanted to go back to that unworkable past model. How would they get us to stomach it when our ancestors rejected it? Whom would they need to get on their side to pull that off? Whom would they divide and conquer?

          and if they found their allies were insane, how far would they plunge the nation into insanity to obtain short-term profits?

    • If gay marriage and pot smoking is left wing, why weren’t they widespread and legal in the Soviet Union and its allies in the seventies?

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