” found a love that I had lost
It was gone for too long
Hear no evil in all directions
Execution of bitterness
Message received loud and clear.” — Michael Hutchence
I hate to bring back painful memories, but progressives, liberals, and moderates felt betrayed by Mitt Romney when he changed his mind and chose to cast a vote for Amy Coney Barrett to be placed on the Supreme Court. His reasoning made some sense if you didn’t stop to think about it.
My liberal friends have over many decades gotten very used to the idea of having a liberal court, and that’s not written in the stars. It’s also appropriate for a nation, which is, if you will, center-right to have a court which reflects a center-right point of view— Mitt Romney
The second portion of that quote was the money line. He said it was appropriate for a country that is center-right. That statement has a number of problems all wrapped into one. As we limp our way to the 2022 election cycle it would be instructive to look at those problems.
The first problem is sheer numbers and history. The only national election not impacted by gerrymandering is the presidency. The GOP has won a majority exactly once since 1992. That’s 28 years. That’s eight elections. Seven for eight is quite a batting average. Yet, in seven full four year terms, the GOP has held control for three of them. That’s one sign.
The second problem is party identification. Since Gallop has been measuring party identification in 1991, more people have been identifying as Democrats than Republicans. According to the current data, the gap is now more than ten points. That is the largest such gap since data has been collected.
The third problem is the designation of the word center. Fewer people identify as being in the center these days. When you look at attitudes towards specific issues you can see that quite plainly. What’s funny is that people on both sides manage to misread the current landscape. Ask a typical conservative about their own party and they will tell you that they aren’t more conservative than they used to be. It’s quite maddening.
I’m sure they would say the same about Democrats. It’s hard to deny that Democrats have shifted further left. The only question is which party has shifted further away from center. If we suspect it is the GOP then the whole center-right argument makes sense in a vacuum. If you imagine politics as a game of tug of war then you would have ten guys on the left hand side and five on the right. The trouble is the guys on the right weigh 400 pounds each. If you measure influence in volume that is certainly true.
There is a gap between what really is and what people say that they are. That same Gallop data says that more people identify as moderate or conservative than liberal/progressive. Yet, when you look at all of the individual planks of the progressive platform you’ll find a majority approve of those planks. The least popular issue sees 54 percent of the population agree. Most have 60 percent or more that agree. If the country were truly center-right then a majority of citizens would not support progressive planks.
Therein lies the problem. While Gallop might deal in wholes, the country does not exist that way. Individual states and counties within those states have their own individual realities. The rural ones tend to be more conservative and the urban ones tend to be more progressive. Sure, gerrymandering has skewed those results in terms of government representation, but that’s not the issue here.
Volume and old-fashioned bullying have taken their toll. Good and decent people have called themselves conservative even though they support progressive causes. You can call yourself whatever you want, but if you vote what you actually support then we would get the government we deserve. Part of that involves paying attention and realizing exactly who is responsible for not giving those things which a majority supports. They will be loud. They will be obnoxious and they will call themselves the victim. They will do all this to distract us from what is true. This country hasn’t been center-right for decades and probably never was.