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Monday, November 13, 2006

The myth of the sensible center

Atrios talks about this a lot: this myth held by mainly middle-class educated white men in Washington that there is a "silent majority" of "sensible centrists" in this country who are socially permissive and fiscally conservative. These pundits think that if you just listen to the sensible center, everything will be okay and there will be no strife in U.S. politics.

Of course, such a center only exists in the minds of the pundits that are clapping each other on the back and congratulating themselves for realizing such a deep notion. What makes it especially ironic is that I would fall into that category. However, I am under no illusion as to believing that I represent the majority of people in this country. I know that I am on the fringe for the most part. I haven't drunk the Kool-Aid that Washington experts have.

Like many of these pundits, I am an educated middle-class white guy. I believe in free trade, balanced budgets, minimal spending, the abolition of corporate and agricultural subsidies (things like this and stadium subsidies really make me mad), and in general a hands-off approach to the market when interference isn't necessary. I also believe that the government should get out of the marriage business and allow two adults to enter into civil unions, that most drugs should be legalized, that prostitution should be legalized, that gambling should be legalized or completely banned (no state lottery exemption), and that people should generally live and let live.

What I don't get is how anybody who believes in these things can believe that this is a majority position in this country. The Pew Research Center has this handy graph that shows that Libertarians (socially liberal, fiscally conservative) make up 9% of the country, while Populists (socially conservative, fiscally liberal) make up 16% of the country, or almost twice as many people. There are more social conservatives than social liberals, which is obvious to anybody that has noticed that all but one anti-gay marriage amendments proposed around the country have passed.

So what does this mean? Well, as far as the Independence Party is concerned, it means that if the party really does encompass a fiscally conservative, socially liberal ideology, it is going to be a minority party. If not, well, then what the heck does the Independence Party stand for? In the broader scheme of things, it means that the educated elite may find it easier and more natural than others to move towards Libertarian beliefs, but that doesn't make it a prevailing ideology.


At 7:25 AM, November 14, 2006, Blogger mike said...

Should we start talking about the MPR select a candidate surveys?

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