A recent poll shows increasing numbers of people identifying as “liberal” in the United States. People describing themselves as “moderates” are on the decline while self-described “conservatives” remain steady at around 30 percent.
The gap between numbers of liberals and numbers of conservatives is narrowing, according to the pollster. From a mega-trend perspective, I wonder if this narrowing gap indicates a growing favorable climate for fundamental change.
Could prosperity be a factor? We already know people have fewer children as their prosperity increases. As people become more prosperous, could they also change their politics? There’s a lot of evidence countering this speculation. Some wealthy people, eager to retain their wealth (by avoiding paying taxes) adopt fiscally-conservative ideologies. Still, as our collective prosperity increases, and as our collective crises become more stark, are people embracing ideologies favoring fundamental change?
The pollsters throw out a caution saying: “The most obvious implication of this after the 2016 election is that the parties may increasingly nominate candidates who are wholly unacceptable to the opposing party. Additionally, it may be affecting the ideological bent of Americans’ representatives in Congress and the pressure these leaders face from their constituents to adhere to conservative versus liberal orthodoxy.”
That outcome always favors fundamental change. As politics grows more polar it becomes increasingly clear how the system works for a very few. This quote from the report is encouraging: “On the other hand, if the term “liberal” is simply growing in public acceptance, the shift could be more a matter of semantics than a paradigm change. People who once opted for the word “moderate” may be more willing to call themselves “liberal” even if their views on the issues are the same. However, with major changes over the past two decades in Americans’ acceptance of gay marriage, support for legalized marijuana and growing opposition to the death penalty, at least some of the shift in labeling appears to be rooted in changing perspectives.”
Growing more liberal is a really good thing. Fear of change is not in our best interest, particularly when change is literally happening all around us, all the time. I’m eager to see the change that I’m calling for: one that allows everyone real freedom.