-By Warner Todd Huston
There has been a lot of lament by the far left in America that the Tea Party has somehow driven the Republican Party to conservative extremes. This, however, is untrue. The truth is, the American public has been trending toward conservative views for more than a decade before the Tea Party even came about.
According to Gallup, for the last three years more Americans have self-proclaimed themselves as conservatives than have claimed the moniker of moderate.
Political ideology in the U.S. held steady in 2011, with 40% of Americans continuing to describe their views as conservative, 35% as moderate, and 21% as liberal. This marks the third straight year that conservatives have outnumbered moderates, after more than a decade in which moderates mainly tied or outnumbered conservatives.
But think about this for a minute. This means that fully 75% of America is more conservative than the Democrat Party, a party that decades ago stopped being a party of centrism becoming instead a European-like, liberal party.
Gallup’s several decades of polling finds that “moderates” have been in slow decline since 1992 with Americans calling themselves “liberal” now only measuring at 21 percent. With this we see a nation that is not just center-right as many political pundits have for years claimed, but is actually trending conservative.
As to the Republican Party, it is dominated by conservatives by 71 percent, a number that has grown by nine percent since the year 2000. So it is no wonder that Republican politics has edged toward conservative ideas, its base is getting more conservative.
This all seems to bode ill for the sort of far left policies that President Obama and his comrades dearly love. In fact, one can see the progression of conservatism in America in many areas. Twenty years ago, for instance, liberals were full-throated in their criticism of the Second Amendment and aimed to ban not just handguns but all firearms. Today, with every state but one now offering some iteration of law authorizing concealed carry, anti-gun ideas are the last things Democrat politicians talk about openly. Abortion is also an issue that has trended toward the conservative point of view, though not nearly so quickly as gun issues.
Spending is also an issue that is trending toward conservative ideals. For the first time in well over 100 years the discussion in Congress is how to actually cut spending instead of merely how much to limit the growth of spending and voters are quite high on fiscal responsibility. Look at Wisconsin, for instance. 100 years ago, Wisconsin led the country in left-wing progressivism yet last year Wisconsin was among the fist states in the union to vote in a Governor one of whose main promises was to scale back the undue power of government employee unions.
Certainly the country hasn’t gone far enough to the right to suit conservatives — just as the country was not far enough left in the 60s and 70s to suit liberals — but without question the United States has been drifting to the right for several decades.
So, conservatives, don’t feel self-conscious about being a conservative. After all, you are in the majority.