Tuesday, June 21, 2011

The New York Times has felt a disturbance in The Force

From Nate Silver, writing in The New York Holy Times:

Libertarianism has been touted as the wave of America’s political future for many years, generally with more enthusiasm than evidence. But there are some tangible signs that Americans’ attitudes are in fact moving in that direction.
Since 1993, CNN has regularly asked a pair of questions that touch on libertarian views of the economy and society:
Some people think the government is trying to do too many things that should be left to individuals and businesses. Others think that government should do more to solve our country’s problems. Which comes closer to your own view?
Some people think the government should promote traditional values in our society. Others think the government should not favor any particular set of values. Which comes closer to your own view?
A libertarian, someone who believes that the government is best when it governs least, would typically choose the first view in the first question and the second view in the second.
In the polls, the responses to both questions had been fairly steady for many years. The economic question has showed little long-term trend, although tolerance for governmental intervention rose following the terror attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. The social libertarian viewpoint — that government should not favor any particular set of values — has gained a couple of percentage points since the 1990s but not more than that.
But in CNN’s latest version of the poll, conducted earlier this month, the libertarian response to both questions reached all-time highs. Some 63 percent of respondents said government was doing too much — up from 61 percent in 2010 and 52 percent in 2008 — while 50 percent said government should not favor any particular set of values, up from 44 percent in 2010 and 41 percent in 2008. (It was the first time that answer won a plurality in CNN’s poll.)

Whether people are as libertarian-minded in practice as they might believe themselves to be when they answer survey questions is another matter. Still, there have been visible shifts in public opinion on a number of issues, ranging from increasing tolerance for same-sex marriage and marijuana legalization on the one hand, to the skepticism over stimulus packages and the health-care overhaul on the other hand, that can be interpreted as a move toward more libertarian views.
The Tea Party movement also has some lineage in libertarian thinking. Although polls suggest that many people who participate in the Tea Party movement have quite socially conservative views, the movement spends little time emphasizing those positions, as compared with economic issues.

May this trend continue !!!


Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

I think one can also judge the gains libertarianism has made by its increasingly shrill opposition. Anecdotally, at least, it seems that these days libertarianism is the only political philosophy intellectuals deem worthy of trying to destroy.

In his book "Justice: What's the Right Thing to Do?" Harvard's Michael Sendel argues (unconvincingly) only against libertarianism. Recently I've been listening to "The Moral Foundations of Politics" [sic] by Yale's Ian Shapiro, in which he seems to be going down the same anti-libertarian path - again, selecting libertarianism as the only philosophy worth opposing. And now there's Stephen Metcalf’s rather weak attack posted on Slate.com.

We must be doing something right (not much, perhaps, but something).

The Whited Sepulchre said...

I read about half of the Metcalf mess on Slate before my job intervened. Hope to finish it tonight. Hope you're doing well in the People's Republic Of California, sir !!!