Wednesday, August 31, 2005

The Emerging Independent Majority

The other day I noted Arnold Kling's discussion of the Long Tail of Politics. Today, Uriah Kriegel suggests there is an emerging independent majority:
"Big picture strategists in both the Democratic and Republican parties like to speculate on the "emerging [insert favorite party] majority." Yet the only trend in evidence is an emerging independent majority. A 2001 University of Michigan study claims that the number of self-described independents rose in the second half of the 20th century from 28% to 37% of the electorate.

[. . . .]

How to explain this trend is not a matter that can be easily settled, but a good starting-point explanation is that a certain kind of political center has consolidated that is economically conservative and socially tolerant, if not liberal.

As the lower-middle class of American society becomes economically literate, and the upper middle class is increasingly savvy, they become more market-friendly. With a better grasp of the mechanisms by which markets generate and then disseminate wealth, the power of economic populism is on the decrease. To be sure, a trend such as this cannot be linear and necessarily experiences periods of ups and downs. But there is an inevitability to it that the far Left cannot acknowledge.

Correlatively, the far Right has its own limitation. As Americans of all walks of life are exposed to more and more variegated ways of doing things, through globalizing media and the expansion of multiculturalism (and multiethnicity), fear of the unknown gives way to readier acceptance of a spectrum of personal moralities. Tolerance and inclusion are on the rise, instinctual inward-looking and -shrinking in decline.

Here too, the trend does not progress linearly but has some wobbliness to it. Yet the trend is undeniable. To give just one example, in 1977, 34% of American thought homosexuality "acceptable"; today, the figure stands at 51%.

Because of the primary system, the emerging independent majority was bound to remain below the radar. But 2008 may be the year of the centrist. This new centrist front is a reaction to the emerging independent majority. Interestingly, it reflects the core of libertarian thought, embracing the Right's economic freedoms with the Left's social freedoms to create a unified platform highlighting individual responsibility and correlative opportunity, and opposing top-down intervention in one's economic affairs as well as the imposition of a particular personal mores by self-appointed moral authorities."
Could this possibly be the case? Is there an emerging median voter that "reflects the core of libertarian thought?"

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