October 21, 2008


Patio Man Revisited (DAVID BROOKS, 10/21/08, NY Times)

On one level, the changes are surprisingly modest. There have been no big changes in how Americans describe their political philosophies. Somewhere between 40 percent and 49 percent still call themselves conservative, and about half as many call themselves liberal. Distrust of government is still high. Ronald Brownstein of the National Journal compared today’s poll results, group by group, with past election results. Especially for those over 30, the stability of the preferences is more striking than the changes.

But deeper down, there are some shifts in values. Americans, including suburban Americans, are less socially conservative. They are more aware of the gap between rich and poor. They are more open to government action to reduce poverty.

But, most of all, there is a tropism toward order and stability.

Some liberals think they are headed for an age of liberal dominance and government expansion. “If Obama offers a big, budget-busting program next year, it will more likely be seen as fair than irresponsible,” Jonathan Alter writes in Newsweek.

But the shift in public opinion is not from right to left, or from anti-government to pro-government, it’s from risk to caution, from disorder to consolidation.

There is a deep current of bourgeois culture running through American suburbia. It is not right wing, but it is conservative: a distrust of those far away; a belief in convention and respectability; and a strong reaction against anything that threatens to undermine the stability of the established order.

Given all of which, why isn't the McCain camp up with Reverend Wright ads 24/7?

Posted by Orrin Judd at October 21, 2008 5:39 PM
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