Tuesday night, Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) spoke at the Re/code conference, a confab of media and tech influencers. During a question and answer session, a voter asked why politicians aren’t building infrastructure or implementing other policy that respects the will of the people.
That’s according to a new Gallup poll that finds the shares of American adults considering themselves “socially liberal” and “socially conservative” each total 31 percent. (The remaining respondents either called their views “moderate” or had no opinion.) Gallup has been tracking these categories since 1999, and the latest numbers simultaneously signify the highest share ever recorded for liberals and the lowest recorded for conservatives.
What explains this shift? Are Americans’ views on social issues becoming more liberal, or is “liberal” just getting a bit of brand revival?
In short, it’s probably both.
Over the last few years, political scientists have warned about a worrying trend in American democracy: Voter preferences don’t have much sway over presidents’ policy choices. New research suggests their worries are well founded.
In a new book, political scientists James Druckman and Lawrence Jacobs examine data on internal polling from U.S. presidential archives and other existing research to determine how presidents use their knowledge of public opinion to craft policies. What they found is disturbing: Presidents tend to focus only on the opinions of the wealthy and well-connected insiders, ignoring the views and preferences of most of the electorate. This turns the idea that elected officials in the United States are responsive to public opinion on its head.
Druckman and Jacobs focused on how President Ronald Reagan created the modern conservative coalition using internal polling. He sought to unite political independents, high-income groups, social conservatives and conservatives. While all of these groups had influence over the Reagan administration, high-income earners had the most pull.
he definition of a decadent society is one that destroys its own future, knowing full well the terrible consequences. On that basis, Britain is truly degenerate. Just look at how it trashes its children and teenagers.
Our young are the very people on whom the rest of us will one day come to depend – to care for us, and to earn the country’s income. Rather than mere lifestyle accessories, to be slotted in alongside handbags and cars, they represent our best hope. This human truth has sustained societies around the world and down the ages. Yet in austerity Britain, children have been chucked to the bottom of the pile. They have been robbed of their rightful benefits. And the support they could once draw upon – everything from Sure Start centres to youth clubs to mental-health workers – has been hacked back.
Almost every day brings fresh evidence that running for president is now less an exercise in wooing voters than in wooing the ultra-rich. On Thursday, The New York Times reported that “Hillary Rodham Clinton will begin personally courting donors for a ‘super PAC’ supporting her candidacy.” Super PACs, for those blessedly unaware, are the instruments through which rich people give candidates unlimited amounts of money. The Obama campaign established one in 2012 but because, in theory, super PACs are independent from the candidates they support, President Obama did not appear at its events. Hillary is showing no such restraint. According to the Times, she will spend much of the coming weeks nibbling hors d’oeuvres in the company of people she hopes will write her super PAC five-, six- or even seven-figure checks.
As an official presidential candidate, she can’t ask for such vast sums directly. An underling will have to do that. But even that makes her pure compared to Jeb Bush, who has resisted formally announcing his candidacy in part because it liberates him to make the ask himself. “In the last presidential contest,” notes The Washington Post’s Matea Gold, “super PACs were an exotic add-on for most candidates. This time, they are the first priority.” In 2012, they spent $230 million. This year, predicts Politico’s Tarini Parti, they will spend $5 billion.
The media’s inscrutable brush-off of the Government Accounting Office’s recently released audit of the Federal Reserve has raised many questions about the Fed’s goings-on since the financial crisis began in 2008.
The audit of the Fed’s emergency lending programs was scarcely reported by mainstream media – albeit the results are undoubtedly newsworthy. It is the first audit of the Fed in United States history since its beginnings in 1913. The findings verify that over $16 trillion was allocated to corporations and banks internationally, purportedly for “financial assistance” during and after the 2008 fiscal crisis.
Economist Bruce Bartlett, a former adviser to both Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush, warned over the weekend that Fox News had damaged the Republican Party by creating a bubble for conservatives to brainwash themselves.
In his paper “How Fox News Changed American Media and Political Dynamics” published earlier this month, Bartlett theorized that watching the network was essentially “self-brainwashing” for viewers, making them believe that the United States was a more conservative nation than it actually was. And so the Republican Party had responded by running radical conservatives that representative Fox News viewers, but not the true state of the electorate.
“Many conservatives live in a bubble where they watch only Fox News on television, they listen only to conservative talk radio — Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, many of the same people,” Bartlett told CNN’s Brian Stelter on Sunday. “When they go onto the Internet, they look at conservative websites like National Review, Newsmax, World Net Daily.”