Monday, July 21, 2008

Here's a graphic explanation of why most Americans will have no real presidential candidate in the General Election

Let's make one baseline assumption: most Americans are not ideologues.

As much as I might like to believe that most Americans--deep down--are Libertarians, the fact is: they're not.

As much as Liberalgeek might like to believe that most Americans are inherently liberals, the fact is: they're not.

And while RSmitty or David Anderson want to think the same thing with regard to conservatism, the fact is: they're not.

Most Americans are a walking bundle of political contradictions: gun nuts who favor universal health care, evangelicals who believe in the separation of church and state in the public schools....

Which is probably why presidential candidates traditionally run toward their bases in the primaries and back to the center in the general election.

But when the center is simply not where any of the major candidates feels comfortable, exactly what are we in for?

Here, from On the Issues, are the graphics charting the positions of major and minor presidential candidates (you can visit the website for the quotations and the scoring methodology upon which these graphics are based):

Senator Barack Obama is a Hardcore Liberal.

Senator John McCain is a Populist-leaning Conservative:

Former Representative Bob Barr is a Hardcore Conservative:

Former Representative Cynthia McKinney is a Hardcore Liberal:

Consumer activist Ralph Nader is also a Hardcore Liberal:

So I guess what I'm saying is that there are no moderates running for President.

All of which made me wonder, who qualifies as a Moderate?

This turned out to be a pretty difficult search, but finally I found two sitting Senators who qualify as Moderates, individuals who'd obviously be at the center of everything, individuals to whom everyone would look when it came time to build a consensus, right?

You tell me. My two Moderates were

Senator Arlen Spector of Pennsylvania:

Senator Joseph Lieberman of Connecticut:

So what have I learned by all this?

I think we're in deep trouble no matter who wins.


tom said...

what frightens me most is that the only one in the top half of the chart is Cynthia McKinney.

David said...

Moderates are usually poor at governing because their policies are contradictory. You have to be able to go in a direction even if you take a few turns to get there (you don't drive straight through a wall). A true moderate will want to cut taxes and have universal health care. Want to make global warming a priority while getting more coal power plants. You get the picture. Moderates are rarely leaders and when they are they tend to take you in circles.

David said...

I do not believe most Americans are conservative. I believe as polls show that it is the largest group. In parliamentary governments you build a coalition after the election. In a Presidential system, you build one before the election. That is all that happens. It is not about moving to the center or any nonsense like that. It is about stitching together a diverse winning coalition.

That is why Libertarians won't win a national election unless we have a real crisis. They are not willing to build a coalition. If they give Barr who came 80% their way a hard time, they will never reach out to Mr. Middle America who will come 65% of the way.

Anonymous said...

David, I would disagree with you on reaching out to "Mr. Middle America" - I know that I do that on a regular basis... However I don't choose "Mr. Middle America" as my presidential nominee - we can work together on areas where we agree, and go our separate ways when we don't, no hard feelings...

However I do expect those who are NOMINATED as major candidates, and thus as "spokespersons" for the LP to run on a LIBERTARIAN platform... To do otherwise is false advertising at best.

I would have no real problem working with Barr where we could IF he were a member of a different party. As a libertarian that isn't, I can't support him in any way, including not voting for him as an LP Presidential Elector in the unlikely event that the LP carries Mass.

Barr gets a hard time, not because he holds the positions he does, but because he holds them while pretending to be a Libertarian...

LPMA Operations Facilitator
LPMA Presidential Elector, Not voting for Barr!
Elected Libertarian
speaking for myself

tom said...

I don't have a problem with Barr being a Libertarian, or even on NatCom. I am willing to believe that people can change.

I just want to see some evidence of a good solid libertarian track record before I trust them to run for President. Or any other public office including Dog Catcher.

Things like fund-raising for an LP candidate's very non-libertarian opponent, or publicly waffling on important issues don't do much to build that trust.