Written by George Phillies
June Liberty for America
The Libertarian Future is Here
and Republicans have only bad news incoming.
Exciting news from the Pew Trust. They just completed their latest study of American political opinions. They do these every few years, with careful statistical analysis. You can read the whole study at people-press.org/2011/05/04/beyond-red-vs-blue-the-political-typology/
The implications of the latest study are totally spectacular for the libertarian political movement. In particular:
*There are many more left libertarians than there are right libertarians.
*Libertarians are at least as large as Republicans. All liber-tarians need to do is to bring our supporters together.
*Are you wondering why you suddenly see “Libertarians should run no Presidential candidate and vote Republican”? Without libertarians, Republicans are completely dead in the water.
What did Pew do?
If you do not care how Pew came to its conclusions, skip to ―What did Pew Learn?
They asked a very large number of Americans a long list of questions. Then they used computers to do “cluster analysis”, meaning they looked for groups of people who agree with each other on lots of their questions. Of course, very few people agree with anyone else on everything. However, it turns out
experimentally that you can break voters into groups of people who agree with each other on most issues, and you can show that the space between groups has relatively few people in it, and everyone is in some group.
That outcome, well-defined tribes of people with similar sets of views, and few people with views midway in between, does not have to be the case. You could find, having asked your ques-tions, that people giving each combination of answers are ex-actly as common as people giving any other combination. You could, but you don’t. For example, you don’t find a lot of people who support gay marriage, believe that the social safety net is important, support government intervention to protect cli-mate, and … think that abortion should be totally illegal. You don’t find zero people like that, but they are rare, while people who support gay marriage, the safety net, and carbon emission control, and who are pro-choice, are common. That’s clustering.
The reason you do computer analysis is that computers are
relatively unbiased politically. They will find clusters that exist in your data, will not find clusters that are not there, and will tell you the odds that a cluster is real rather than random chance. If you are worried whether this approach makes sense, it is the same as the classical approach that decides whether two groups of not-entirely-similar birds are the same species or two different species.
What Did Pew Learn?
Pew found that you can divide Americans into nine political
clusters. That‘s way more clusters than a liberal-conservative line shows, and it is considerably more clusters than fit on the Nolan chart. What are these clusters?
“Bystanders” are young, politically disengaged, and amount to 10% of the population, but approximately zero percent of the registered voters. For political purposes, they don’t matter because they don’t vote. They could matter, if they became voters.
So what are the groups that matter politically?
Three groups of people that are mostly Democratic. There are ‘Solid Liberals’, amounting to 16% of registered voters, who take liberal stands most of the time. There are ‘hard-pressed Democrats’ who are religious and financially challenged, amounting to 15% of the electorate. Finally, the ‘New Coalition Democrats’ at 9% of the electorate take a positive view of our institutions, including business, and tend to be Latino and other minority groups. These groups differ on some questions; the liberals are much more socially liberal.
Count them up; the Democratic base is 40% of the voters.
Then there are the two groups that are mostly Republican, the
‘staunch conservatives’ at 11% of voters and the ‘Main Street
Republicans’ at 14% of the voters. The ‘staunch conservatives’ are very conservative on almost everything, and include the people favorable to the conservative tea party types. However, the Tea Party is much more complicated than the Staunch Con-servatives, and is not a unified movement. The Main Street Conservatives are also conservative, but less so. Observe that the conservative tea party types, who are not all the tea parttypes, the staunch conservatives, are a minority in their own party.
How do the Republican groups differ? Staunch conservatives think environmental laws hurt the economy and businesses do not make too much profit; Main Street Republicans are just the opposite. Counting them up, the Republican base is 25% of the voters, way less than the Democratic base.
Pew identified three totally different groups in the middle, which the Pew writers described as ‘Disaffected’, ‘Libertarian’, and ‘post-modern’. The three groups are very different. Post-Moderns might reasonably be described as Left Libertarians, while Pew Libertarians are actually ‘Right Libertarians’. Non-libertarians may be unaware of that there are right and left libertarians, let alone that they disagree. The Left and Right Libertarians are substantially split, even as the two groups of Republicans and the three groups of Democrats are badly split. The Disaffected may be described as very upset, but not in the same ways as some other people; they think that government is almost always ineffective and wasteful, and also government should do more to help the needy.
Left and Right Libertarians are both fiscally conservative and
socially liberal, left libertarians being younger and more diverse, while right libertarians are 2/3 white males. Oh, yes, left libertarians are young people, largely under 30. The Right Libertarians are 10% of the population, the Left Libertarians are 14% of the population and the Disaffecteds are 11% of they
population. Left and right libertarians differ on such issues as global warming.
There are many more left libertarians than there are right
libertarians. The ratio is almost 3:2. Counting even a few of the disaffected ‘government does not work’ people as libertarians, 25%+ of the electorate is libertarian, and that’s as many libertar-ians as there are Republicans. Now we see why Republican empty heads have been calling for Libertarians — mostly right libertarians — not to run a Presidential candidate next year, namely without the right libertarian vote the Republicans are in an impossible position. They have the same fine electoral chances as Massachusetts Republicans.
The Democratic block will not vote Republican. The Disaffect-eds see that Republicans will tamper with the social safety net to the profit of the Republicans’ plutocrat bosses. The Left Libertarians are overwhelmingly supportive of gay marriage and environmental protections, and will not go near Republican religious-anti-environmental types. Without Right Libertarians, the Republicans are stuck at a quarter of the vote, which is not even minority status in most places.
What Should Libertarians Do?
The Libertarian objective is to become the #2 and then then #1 party in the country. To become #2, one of the other parties must be sent to the grave. There are far fewer Republicans than Democrats, and their positions on issues dear to the younger generation are far less acceptable to that generation, so clearly the Republicans should be the first to go, the Democrats coming later.
Thanks to first-past-the-post elections, a 30% Libertarian bloc confines the Republicans to third-party status.
How do we unify left and right libertarian voters and others? We need to pound hard on the wedge issues that divide right libertarians from Republicans, and we need to remove some wedges that make it harder for left libertarians to support us.
The core wedge issues for pulling Right Libertarians away from
Republicans are the social issues, notably abortion and gay rights. An effective libertarian campaign will take hard core libertarian positions on abortion, gay marriage, gay adoption, and other GLBTQPL issues, forcing right libertarians to consid-er the ways in which right libertarians are least like Republi-cans. Opposition to the Asian land wars and to the national security military welfare state likely also help.
Libertarian Party supporters will correctly recognize that Liber-tarian Parties in the deep south and parts of the Mississippi river basic may not like a pro-abortion stance. Supporting abortion access is like supporting the right to vote for African-Americans. Both are the right thing to do, racist reactionary manques notwithstanding, even if supporting voting rights did cost the forces of virtue the votes of white racist bigots. All the
Southern white racists shifted from the Democratic Party to the Republican. In the modern era, the libertarian position that immigrants strengthen American society not only drives away Republicans but links right and left libertarians.
Core issues for uniting right and left libertarians are again the social issues, the belief that we are a secular rather than a reli-gious society, that we welcome immigration, that capitalism works, that we oppose the warfare national security state, and that America has substantially made the changes needed to give equal rights for all.
And now we come to a few wedges that need to be removed.
Right libertarians are somewhat to prone to fall for conserva-tive anti-intellectualism, expressed as global warming denial, evolution denial, and a completely unworkable environmental defense scheme based on litigation on an unprecedented scale. Anti-intellectualism may have a long American tradition be-hind it. However, we are the wealthiest and most productive country in the world because of our engineers, our skilled workers, and our learned professions, not because the ignorant assert their right to believe their wrong opinions.
For a somewhat different progressive democratic take on the same data, see dailykos.com/story/2011/05/08/973770/-Pew-typologies: Beyond-mere-left-and-right.