What Conservatives Think #012004: Political Philosophy: Are Americans More Liberal Than They Realize?

The Left Says:

“Whether they now describe themselves as liberal or not, most Americans remain strongly progressive in their views about taxation, health care, education spending, Social Security, environmental protection, and corporate regulation.”

Source: Joe Conason, “Big Lies: The Right-Wing Propaganda Machine and How It Distorts the Truth,” Thomas Dunne Books, 2003, page 4

What Conservatives Think:

Conservatives believe Americans are smart enough to know how progressive (liberal) they are. Here’s what they told Gallup:

Overall political philosophy: According to an October-November 2003 Gallup poll, 41 percent of Americans identify as conservative, 39 percent as moderate and 19 percent as liberal. A year before, the percentages were 38, 39 and 19; in 2001, 38, 40 and 19; in 2000, 37, 42 and 20.

Taxation: A September 2003 Gallup poll asked: “Do you think the tax cuts recently signed into law by George W. Bush were — a good idea (or) a bad idea — at this time?” 49 percent said good; 46 percent said bad; 5 percent had no opinion.

Health Care: A November 2003 Gallup poll asked: “Which of the following approaches for providing health care in the United States would you prefer — replacing the current health care system with a new government-run health care system, or maintaining the current system based mostly on private health insurance?” 38 percent wanted a government-run health care system; 57 percent wanted to maintain a system of private insurance, and 5 percent had no opinion.

Education: A January 2003 Gallup poll found that 57 percent of the public agreed with President Bush’s approach toward education issues, with 30 percent disapproving and 13 percent having no opinion. Of the six Gallup polls asking this question since Bush’s inauguration, Bush’s education policies received 57 percent or more approval in each poll. (No Gallup polls were available on Gallup’s website asking a more narrow question about education spending levels.)

Social Security: The three Gallup polls asking about public support for President Bush’s position on Social Security since Bush’s inauguration found approval for Bush’s policies outpolling disapproval by a range of 7 – 18 percentage points, depending upon the poll. Ten times since 2000, Gallup has asked: “A proposal has been made that would allow people to put a portion of their Social Security payroll taxes into personal retirement accounts that would be invested in private stocks and bonds. Do you favor or oppose this proposal?” Each time, public support for partial privatization vastly outweighed opposition — at times by a 2-1 margin. In the most recent poll, conducted in October 2003, 62 percent favored partial privatization, 34 percent opposed it, and 2 percent had no opinion.

Environment: The only 2003 Gallup poll asking about public support for Bush’s policies on the environment found 53 percent approval and 37 percent disapproval, with 10 percent having no opinion. Approval for Bush’s environmental policies outpolled disapproval in all published Gallup polls conducted since Bush’s inauguration. Polls show that Americans of all political persuasions do support environmental protection — but apparently tend to be more comfortable than not with the conservative Bush Administration’s approach to it.

Corporate regulation: The most recent of five Gallup polls asking “In general, do you think there is too much, too little or about the right amount of government regulation of business and industry?,” found 35 percent saying there is too much regulation; 31 percent saying it is about right; 33 percent saying there is too little and 3 percent having no opinion. All five Gallup polls asking this question had similar responses.

Source: All Gallup poll information was obtained from www.gallup.com, a paid-subscription website.

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