Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Democrat But Not Liberal?

There's an interesting poll being dissected in today's Capitol Journal column in the Wall Street Journal. The graphic particularly caught my eye:

The focus of the article is on Republicans and the problems they are having trying to attract / retain conservatives. But look at the Democrat / Liberal numbers.

42% of Americans identify themselves as 'Democrats', but only 24% identify themselves as 'Liberal'.

Democrats would likely cheerfully respond that they are the party of the "center" attracting moderates and independents. And, based on the last election, there's merit in that viewpoint.

However, I believe there's an alternative explanation. The "dirty little secret" I think Democrats would like to avoid is that the Democrats, with a big assist from the media, portray themselves and their policies as "moderate" and "centrist" even though they're not.

Conservatives have done a good job at giving the liberal brand a bad connotation. There's not too many folks who want to be branded as a "liberal" these days. But, instead of making substantive changes to their policies, the liberals in the Democrat party have simply "rebranded" their policies. They now call them"moderate" and "centrist" policies; and, anything really radical is labeled "progressive".

This way, they can trot out the same old liberal policies and people embrace them because they aren't called "liberal". The policies have changed, only the labels are different.

So, even though the Democrats have been quite successful, the success isn't with substantive ideas but with the effort to fool the electorate that the new labels represent something different.

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