The impending death of American conservatism

Ronald Reagan, conservative icon

Gallup released a poll May 24th with some remarkable new data. American liberalism--long thought to be dead and gone and receeding into New Deal memory--is ascendant. 

According to Gallup, 30% of Americans consider themselves social liberals, an all time high. And only 41% of Americans consider themselves economically conservative, an all time low.

Think about the implications of these amazing numbers for a moment. The term "liberal" has been spat out with nothing but contempt by not just right-leaning pundits, but by Republican party apparatchiks for 30 some years at least. Democrats, the "liberal" party, have run away from the tag like it was contaminated with MRSA. Which means that self-proclaimed "moderates'' are very likely to be liberal as well, especially on economic issues.

What the poll doesn't say is why this is. The reasons for the underlying shift. Some are obvious ones--the economy is improving under what is presumed to be a "liberal" presidency, which makes "liberal" synonymous with success. The other likely cause is that as the nation becomes less white, it becomes more liberal. For all the presumed conservatism of Latinos, polls have shown them to be far less conservative on economic and social issues than whites.

But I think those are ephemeral at best. The two real reasons are that in the last 35 years, virtually every Neo-con/neo-liberal/Ayn Rand-esque/Heritage Foundation idea has been tried out and all of them have failed spectacularly. Supply side economics, tried in 1981 and 2001 respectively, turned out to be an unmitigated disaster. "Pre-emptive war" was waged in Iraq with a nightmarish result. " A two front war" was waged in the last decade, how did that work out? And the deregulation of the banks via Gramm/Leach/Bliley is the proximate cause of 2008's worldwide meltdown. Odd thing is, the same economic ideas were ruinous in the 1920's and if Erwin Rommel or Alfred Jodl were alive today, they could tell you how well a two front war works out. That's reason #1  

Reason #2 has been discussed here already.

With every demographic and logical trend working against them, the American "conservative" will get shriller, louder and like petulant children, dig in their heels that much more. To our detriment as a people, of course, but since when has the well being of the nation ever mattered to them anyway?


These Republican shmeggeggies. Its always about the gelt with them....and of course plenty of goyishe naches. What do they know from running a government...bupkis! They take office and everything goes to drech, I'd take the shvartzeh anyday over any of those farshtinkineh tea party shmucks!

Posted by Chaim Horowitz on May. 29, 2013 @ 6:23 pm

2010? They walked the house, neutralizing Hussein's presidency.

Feel free to write off the right - it works well for them.

Posted by Guest on May. 29, 2013 @ 6:37 pm

At least 5 of their nominees since 08 have cost them senate seats.

"Hussein's presidency".

Not great. But better than "Walker's".


Posted by JohnnyW on May. 29, 2013 @ 6:39 pm

Which doesn't sound to me like the GOP is dead.

Posted by Guest on May. 29, 2013 @ 7:11 pm

Conservatism is ascendent! All because the Kenyan Marxist/Fascist homosexual, Barack Hussein Obama, has demonstrated how much pain liberalism can cause.

I predict the GOP picks up 12 Senate seats, and 60-75 seats in the House, making the Democrat Party irrelevant outside the union-gooned controlled Northeast.

Posted by Lord Basil on May. 31, 2013 @ 1:57 am

Do you actually know what any of those things mean, or are you just spouting off the latest buzzwords you read on Free Repubelick fucktard?

Posted by Guest on Jun. 25, 2013 @ 12:46 pm

Yeah, sure. So does Palin running for the White House.

Posted by steve on Apr. 26, 2014 @ 2:17 pm

seems awfully anemic outside of a few areas of the country. The Fed is hoping to reinflate a housing bubble and create an equity markets bubble and hope that they trickle down. So far, they haven't. And when the music (or QE) stops, look out below.

Genius anon will make money during the crash, or so he will claim.

I hope you broaden your topics to beyond the major rhetorical and minor policy differences between the two parties of our corporate/military dictatorship.

Posted by Guest on May. 29, 2013 @ 6:49 pm

But improving---in the Rockies and Northwest, there are anecdotal tales of not enough workers, which is great for wages.

Until the people tire of the MIC, it stays. Republican or Democrat matters not.

Posted by JohnnyW on May. 29, 2013 @ 6:54 pm
Posted by Guest on May. 29, 2013 @ 7:12 pm

But that's definitely not the case in L.A. Want to come back?

Posted by Hafez Assad on May. 29, 2013 @ 8:24 pm

So if you are not noticing the recovery then you simply made some bad investments. and you cannot expect any politician to bail you out of your own stupidity.

Oh, and you make money out of down markets by using put options. Google it.

Posted by Guest on May. 29, 2013 @ 7:16 pm

Not the real economy. Jobs, goods and services. You will respond that everyone is in the markets throught IRA's and 401(K)s, but that statement isn't true.

Every bubble bursts. How boastful were you in 2000 or 2008?

Posted by Guest on May. 29, 2013 @ 7:29 pm

Fed manipulation.

Posted by Hafez Assad on May. 29, 2013 @ 8:25 pm

then I would be very worried if I were a liberal.

Posted by Greg on May. 29, 2013 @ 8:04 pm

I won't be worried until Moody's gives Liberalism a AAA rating.

Posted by Horst Person on May. 30, 2013 @ 7:15 am

puts him right in the center of the liberal camp.

Posted by matlock on May. 30, 2013 @ 8:10 pm

Just ask any Neo-con/neo-liberal/Ayn Rand-esque/Heritage Foundation

Just as no hard left idea has ever been tried correctly. Just ask any of your associates at the Bay Guardian.

No matter how many times something fails both sides will be back.

You might want to rethink your triumphalism, in the 30's and 60's the far right was left for dead. Also, Moving away from the fringe right doesn't mean dropping by the fringe left.

Posted by matlock on May. 29, 2013 @ 8:15 pm

Some form of conservatism will be with us for a long time, just like some form of liberalism will be with us for a long time. Conservatism's not dead, it's just changing

Posted by Hafez Assad on May. 29, 2013 @ 8:26 pm

In the 30's, women barely voted--universal suffrage was new. And no minorities.

60's? African Americans/Latinos were what, 6% of the electorate?

In 2016, 30% of the electorate will be non white, 53% female.

As the "left" doesn't exist in America with any real power or say, it's hard to imagine what will come. But the politics of the 80's are over--those demos are history. 

Posted by JohnnyW on May. 29, 2013 @ 9:09 pm

1/2 of Americans don't pay income tax. A large % are net receivers of Social Benefit programs. These people will never vote to increase their own taxes or reduce benefits - who would? This represents the bigger change than a change in ethnic make up. Democrats are for legalizing illegal immigrants, as they represent potentially 10 million new Democratic voters . What is keeping the GOP more relevant is the small turnouts of the left. Whether they are lazy, disinterested, feeling disenfranchised, it doesn't matter. The GOP regularly gets a high % of members voting. Does anyone think the prpogressives or minorities will come out for Joe Biden - no way. They might for Hillary Clinton, if only because she is a woman. Such is the way in America.

Posted by Richmondman on May. 30, 2013 @ 10:02 am

the left and right insist that their schemes have never really been tried.

Posted by matlock on May. 30, 2013 @ 8:08 pm

You better hope it doesn't need some bglance...a totally liberal America would break down faster than a used Yugo.

Posted by Davedi on May. 30, 2013 @ 4:36 am

Prove it fuckwad. Put up or shut the fuck up.

Posted by Guest on Jun. 25, 2013 @ 12:47 pm

Prove it fuckwad. Put up or shut the fuck up.

Posted by Guest on Jun. 25, 2013 @ 12:47 pm

It always struck me that conservatism meant to the Political Conservatives--"I get mine while everyone else gets zilch--especially the poor, dis-enfranchised, handicapped..." Think George W. Bush of Crawford, Texas. Think Nixon, think Reagan, think Dewey, think Goldwater, and finally think Michelle Bachman--the list goes on for a length...

And now with the far right radical reactionary NRA gun nut psychos weighing in for what 'conservatism' truly means--anarchy and something called 'originalism' which is code for no government regulation because 'regulation' is not what the Founding Fathers originally intended...we have the true goal of conservatism--to allow private for profit companies run rampant over the environment and society--read oil, gas, coal companies.

As someone said in a movie: "We ain't in Kansas anymore, Toto." Hoover didn't have a response to the Great Depression. The State of Oklahoma doesn't have a response to tornadoes, New Jersey doesn't have an answer to Hurricane Sandy--it takes a concerted effort from the nation as a community to address these massive tsunamis of nature or society.

Throw in conservative dismay over homosexuality, abortion, federal regulation, gun control--well, what's not to not like about conservatism. Charlton Heston and Ronald Reagan are perfect paradigms of conservatism: thoughtless and superficial and glib.

Posted by StevenTorrey on May. 30, 2013 @ 5:39 am

"I get mine and everyone else gets zilch". That's just a left-wing categorization intended to disparage. I can become rich without other people becoming poorer because that new wealth is created not taken.

Conservatives advocate building prosperity rather than confiscating and squandering it on high-minded ideas that do not work. We believe that the best results for society are obtained when individuals are freed from the shackles of an over-bearing central government controlling everything.

Conservatism is a lot more American an ideology than socialism.

Posted by Guest on May. 30, 2013 @ 6:21 am

Your cartoon logic is what is killing your movement. You never had a monopoly on advocating building prosperity, you just had one on believing or deluding yourselves into thinking your success is without external aid of any kind. Let me tell you about building prosperity, its making sure we had a highway system to move goods to schools in educating a workforce all with the goal of helping those in the economy who would need such public commons. Its making sure that our "high minded ideas" like relief is there so someone can still participate in the economy. I grant you, not all these ideas were perfect, but it was better than the alternative of just hoping that private charity could do the job 100% universally across our republic.

As for "shackles" of the economy, frankly I am fully comfortable knowing that someone (despite the cutbacks in funding) is attempting to inspect the food we eat or make sure that some factory isn't polluting the lakes we fish. Like I said, it isn't all perfect, and I will concede that there are some regulations that should be eliminated. But let me also remind you that many of these regulations are actually put in there by lobbyists for certain companies to hinder any competition. One need only look at all the legal support Uncle Sam gives Monsanto.

Conservatism isn't an American ideology, its a Tory one, my red coat friend.

Posted by Johnny Venom on May. 30, 2013 @ 6:57 am

prosperity - not creating it.

In fact, you need successful business people and corporations in order to have any kind of tax base at all.

Your "public=good; private equals bad" is naïve and simplistic. And wrong.

Re ideology, America has always worshipped the cult of the individual, and the founding fathers were clearly fans of small government. We just lost our way, at least around these parts.

Posted by Guest on May. 30, 2013 @ 7:05 am

You can't run a proper economy with roads dingus, and you need demand from not just business but people in general for such things.

Posted by Johnny Venom on May. 30, 2013 @ 7:16 am

Yeah, let's get rid of all those roads and schools, and then we'll see some REAL prosperity. That's pure conservative genius at work right there.

Posted by Horst Person on May. 30, 2013 @ 7:22 am

Some roads have been successfully privatized with tolls.

Public safety is probably the only thing I need government to do. Most of the rest could be outsourced, privatized or simply stopped.

You cannot get rich by taxing people.

Posted by Guest on May. 30, 2013 @ 7:32 am

Wow, given that most of the commons has already been paid for by the tax payer, you just want to hand it over to some private entity to make a buck off of? I live in the Chicago area, I can tell you first hand that privatizing does not always equal lower cost or better service. Also, aren't tolls just another tax? If you're OK with that, then why not let the state collect it instead of some private group?

You have no clue what you are talking about with the ease you seem to adopt in dispatching the Commons to for-profit entities. Once again, I use my own city of Chicago as a prime example. Every time something got outsourced and/or privatized, it ended up costing the end user significantly more. If there was such a market for roads or schools, then why are corporations (mainly foreign ones) trying to just suck up to get government money and/or special deals instead of taking their own initiative? It was government that laid out the roads, even during the times of the British ruling the 13 colonies, not private companies. Even the railroad happened because the soon-to-be robber barrons made sure that lines that would become the Union Pacific were helped with grants from Uncle Sam. So don't give us this nonsense that the private sector would lead the way. It had its chance and failed or didn't bother without help from government.

Posted by Johnny Venom on May. 30, 2013 @ 7:48 am

Guest is deeply suspicious of the idea of any kind of "Commons." We're all disconnected monads in his world-view.

Posted by Hortencia on May. 30, 2013 @ 7:59 am

under-utilized and a drain on the budget.

I've rarely seen an interesting asset that is purely public. As soon as faceless bureaucrats get hold of something, it turns to crap.

Posted by Guest on May. 30, 2013 @ 5:25 pm

By the same token, you could say progressivism, or even liberalism is a path to communism, complete with all of the fraud and cheating involved in every social program in the US. Anti-poverty programs, as well-founded as they may be, have been a complete and total failure - and indeed, have created incentives for the dissolution of families, the poor state of the educational system, the weakening of the fabric of America.
America at best should guarantee the opportunity for success, but can't and should not guarantee results. That is the failure of Liberalism.

Posted by Richmondman on May. 30, 2013 @ 10:07 am

There have always been American Tories

Posted by Deus Delenda Est on Jun. 03, 2013 @ 12:27 pm

You're comparing social liberals to economic conservatives. I assume this bit of cherrypicking served your "argument" better. In fact, an economic conservative could easily consider himself socially liberal.

Posted by Chromefields on May. 30, 2013 @ 7:03 am

and consider myself an anti-tax Grover Norquist type libertarian.

But I'm indifferent on social issues like abortion and gay marriage, and don't have strong views on those topics either way.

The right is only libertarian on economic issues and the left is only libertarian on social issues. What I really want is a party that is libertarian on all topics but it doesn't exist.

The GOP is therefore flawed only because of it's interventionist social policies, but of course it needs to do that to win the heartland where elections are decided. So I tolerate the religious right in order to get my beloved low tax policies.

Posted by Guest on May. 30, 2013 @ 7:23 am

freedom without a return to the economic balance which underpins *Liberal* thinking.

As long as people are locked in a desperate struggle to survive they remain subject to the controlling whims of their economic masters.

Posted by lillipublicans on May. 30, 2013 @ 7:40 am

What I gather from all this, JW, is that our country is just shifting towards another cycle of politics. In the late 1970s, especially around '78-79 on through the early 80s, we saw the rise of the so-called "Reagan Revolution" (which actually I believe started in California with Howard Jarvis and his damn tax idea). We saw similar progressive versions in the 1930s and 1960s. What happens is that one school of thought "arises" as something "fresh" or "reforming" towards the current school that is now sclerotic and reaching for anything to look like it has legitimacy even when it has lost such due to a breakdown/failure in their policy. That last part is what you're seeing now with the conservative movement, as the "Reagan Revolution" is finally on its death throws regardless of what the cons think.

Yes, the House has remained in GOP hands, but as the Democrats learned, you can only game gerrymandered seats for so long before a new wave hits. But, as has been mentioned in your article, we're seeing something in demographics that can breakdown that gerrymandering. Also, we're seeing a generational shift. Those of my generation and after ARE more socially liberal (though it may still be up in the air if they are economically progressive or that new political ice cream flavor of the year...libertarian). While no means the ultimate proof of this shift, what struck me was a story of that young mother in that Oklahoma town who was interviewed by CNN's Wolf Blitzer who asked her about God and she replied that she's an athiest. Now this is a red state with a known evangelical movement, being interviewed basically as a representative for that town (though her views may not be representative of that town) in a time of high emotional tensions with others around her watching and what does she say? Basically proclaiming, comfortably I might add, that she doesn't subscribe to some sky deity that everyone around here everyone expects takes as fact or gospel (no pun intended). Would such a proclamation have even been made 10 years ago in that area live on the air??

If she thinks this, what about others of her age? And if this about God, what about homosexuality or abortion or other social issues? What about economic ones. As the climate gets more...well..interesting, emergency federal aid will become more common, this will be an anathema to the conservative and/or libertarian ideal. What the left has failed to do, time and time again, is to hammer the idea that these so-called "red states" are great recipients of federal largess. But perhaps that will change, as these states get more help. Right now many plains states are getting into fracking, its a matter of when NOT if when something goes wrong and we have to step in to fix things. To many of that younger generation, this will have an impact. This are going to get more interesting from here on in as we start this new political wave.

Posted by Johnny Venom on May. 30, 2013 @ 7:14 am


I'm making $86 an hour working from home. I was shocked when my neighbour told me she was averaging $95 but I see how it works now.
I feel so much freedom now that I'm my own boss. This is what I do,



Posted by jake on May. 30, 2013 @ 7:30 am
Posted by Johnny Venom on May. 30, 2013 @ 7:49 am

I am totally concerned with means to bring about the annihilation of the root cause of all ills in human civilization ;

democratic state "capitalism".


Posted by Guest on May. 30, 2013 @ 11:39 am

""With every demographic and logical trend working against them, the American "conservative" will get shriller, louder and like petulant children,""

As is TOTALLY evident on the SFBG blogsight. The vitroil against Johnny Angel is atrocious.

Posted by Richard on May. 31, 2013 @ 7:26 am

any better from the constituency here?

Posted by Guest on May. 31, 2013 @ 7:33 am

The American "conservative" will get shriller, louder and like petulant children,""

The American conservative is petulant children. That's a FACT

Posted by Robert on May. 31, 2013 @ 8:25 am

No, evidently, "Robert".

Posted by Guest on May. 31, 2013 @ 8:29 am

MODERN CONSERVATISM has been a failure because it has been, operationally, de facto, Godless. In the political/civil government realm it has ignored Christ and what Scripture says about the role and purpose of civil government. Thus, it failed. Such secular conservatism will not defeat secular liberalism because to God they are two atheistic peas-in-a-pod and thus predestined to failure. As Stonewall Jackson's Chief of Staff R.L. Dabney said of such a humanistic belief more than 100 years ago:

”[Secular conservatism] is a party which never conserves anything. Its history has been that it demurs to each aggression of the progressive party, and aims to save its credit by a respectable amount of growling, but always acquiesces at last in the innovation. What was the resisted novelty of yesterday is today one of the accepted principles of conservatism; it is now conservative only in affecting to resist the next innovation, which will tomorrow be forced upon its timidity and will be succeeded by some third revolution; to be denounced and then adopted in its turn.

“American conservatism is merely the shadow that follows Radicalism as it moves forward towards perdition. It remains behind it, but never retards it, and always advances near its leader. This pretended salt hath utterly lost its savor: wherewith shall it be salted? Its impotency is not hard, indeed, to explain. It is worthless because it is the conservatism of expediency only, and not of sturdy principle. It intends to risk nothing serious for the sake of the truth."

In any event, “politics,” for the most part today, is whoring after false gods. It will not save us. Our country is turning into Hell because the church in America has forgotten God (Psalm 9:17) and refuses to kiss His Son (Psalm 2.) See, please, 2 Chronicles 7:14ff for the way to get our land healed.

John Lofton, Recovering Republican
Active Facebook Wall

Posted by GuestJohn Lofton on Jun. 03, 2013 @ 1:21 pm

I am living proof of that.

Conservatism is, at it's heart, a very humanistic, secular belief system.

Posted by Guest on Jun. 03, 2013 @ 2:02 pm