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Conservatism Rising

Barack Obama has failed to defeat conservatism in America

By Nile Gardiner World Last updated: October 27th, 2009

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This week’s striking Gallup poll on political ideology is further confirmation that the United States is in essence a conservative nation, which has ironically become even more conservative under Barack Obama. According to Gallup, 40 percent of Americans describe their political views as conservative, 36 percent as moderate and 20 percent as liberal. This is the first time conservatives have outnumbered moderates in America since 2004.

These are staggering figures when you consider that the Left currently dominates the Executive Branch of the US Government, both Houses of the United States Congress, the federal bureaucracy, huge swathes of local government in many big cities, academia, the public school system, and most of the establishment broadcast and print media in America. The figures show there is a huge disconnect between the American public and those who wield much of the political power in the country.

Most significantly, Gallup’s 16 surveys of 5,000 adults conducted across 2009 have definitively shown that conservatism is on the rise despite the election in 2008 of the most liberal president in American history. The biggest factor pushing up conservative support has been a shift among independent voters, 35 percent of whom now describe themselves as conservative, compared to 29 percent in 2008.

The Gallup survey also reveals a distinctly rightward shift in public attitudes since the Obama administration took office, with a growing backlash against the US government’s support for big government solutions to the country’s economic woes, as well as a marked rise in public support for socially conservative views.

Here are several clear-cut examples of rising support for traditionally conservative positions on some of the biggest policy issues of the day, as outlined by Gallup:

Perceptions that there is too much government regulation of business and industry jumped from 38% in September 2008 to 45% in September 2009.
• The percentage of Americans saying they would like to see labor unions have less influence in the country rose from 32% in August 2008 to a record-high 42% in August 2009.
• Public support for keeping the laws governing the sale of firearms the same or making them less strict rose from 49% in October 2008 to 55% in October 2009, also a record high. (The percentage saying the laws should become more strict — the traditionally liberal position — fell from 49% to 44%.)
• The percentage of Americans favoring a decrease in immigration rose from 39% in June/July 2008 to 50% in July 2009.
• The propensity to want the government to “promote traditional values” — as opposed to “not favor any particular set of values” — rose from 48% in 2008 to 53% in 2009. Current support for promoting traditional values is the highest seen in five years.
• The percentage of Americans who consider themselves “pro-life” on abortion rose from 44% in May 2008 to 51% in May 2009, and remained at a slightly elevated 47% in July 2009.
• Americans’ belief that the global warming problem is “exaggerated” in the news rose from 35% in March 2008 to 41% in March 2009.

Last November, liberal commentators wrote off conservatism in America as dead and buried. As the latest Gallup poll shows they were spectacularly wrong. It is no coincidence that the most watched news network, the top selling national newspaper, and the most listened to radio shows in the United States are now all conservative.

The success of Fox News, The Wall Street Journal and talk radio hosts such as Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity and Mark Levin, is a powerful symbol of a vigorous challenge to current liberal dominance of Washington. The vast conservative blogosphere is also an increasingly influential force, from National Review’s The Corner to The Drudge Report, as are leading conservative commentators such as Charles Krauthammer. Combine that with a huge rise in membership this year for grass roots conservative groups campaigning against higher taxes, socialized health care, increased government spending, and defence cuts, and you have the foundations of another conservative revolution.

The spirit of Ronald Reagan is alive and well in America, exemplified by strong public backing for the principles of limited government, free enterprise, individual responsibility and a strong defence. The White House should sit up and take note: it is liberalism, and not conservatism, that is in decline in the United States.