Thursday, December 2, 2021

Public Opinion on Abortion

This seems like a good time to review public opinion data on abortion. Felicitously, AEI's Karlyn Bowman has released one of her excellent public opinion compendia focusing on abortion--a comprehensive 76 pages of data from 1970s to today. As the data show, public opinion on abortion is way more complicated than, say, a simple opposition to repealing Roe v. Wade. An invaluable resource for the struggle sure to come.

Wednesday, December 1, 2021

We're Embroiled in an Endless Culture War

And that ain't good. Especially for the left. John Halpin explains at The Liberal Patriot
"For most of the 1980s and 1990s, politics in Western nations was fought over different conceptions of state power, taxes, regulation, and redistribution. Conservative parties mostly favored more capitalism and less regulation while progressive parties mostly favored market interventions and more generous social welfare policies. Post 9/11, parties began to divide along issues of military interventions and the global war on terror, with contentious issues around immigration also rising in importance. But for most of the past 40 years, a basic left-right dichotomy focused on the proper balance between state and private power dominated much of politics in democratic and capitalist nations.
Around 2012, something fundamentally shifted with this basic left-right ideological conflict, particularly in the U.S. but also in other Western democracies.
Cultural battles around religion, gender, race, and other social issues have always played a role in politics. But during President Barack Obama’s second term—with the rise of social media, the Brexit vote in the U.K., and the ascendance of Donald Trump to the presidency in 2016—the main debates in politics moved sharply away from economics and state power and towards competing visions of identity, patriotism, immigration, and perceptions of cultural extremism.
Some of these divides are explained by educational shifts in the composition of party voters, with more culturally traditional working-class voters moving towards conservative and populist right parties and more educated professional voters moving into progressive and green parties.
Yet educational polarization doesn’t explain why today you can find many Trump and Biden voters agreeing (at least in polls) about the importance of jobs or stronger economic support for workers and families while simultaneously viewing one another as mortal threats to our nation’s identity and future well-being."

Tuesday, November 30, 2021

Class, Class, Class

It's what it's all about baby! Read this terrific interview by Justin Fox with Angus Deaton and Anne Case then go buy their book, Deaths of Despair and the Future of Capitalism.
"AD: The U.S. has become a two-class society. We’re conferring sort of elite status on people with a bachelor’s degree and letting the rest go fish, as it were. The funny thing is that only a third of the adult population have BAs. So the two-thirds that’s not doing very well is a majority, and you might have thought that legislative politics and voting would sort this out. That’s one of the puzzles of the age, why the majority has not managed to use the political mechanism to rectify this problem.
JF: This education divide exists in political leanings outside the U.S., but does it show up across the board in other countries as well?
AC: Anywhere you look in the world, people with more education live longer lives and are healthier, for a variety of reasons. But the only other episode we could find where the life expectancy in adulthood is moving in opposite directions for people with and without a BA is in the countries of Eastern Europe after the fall of the Berlin Wall. So we’re keeping very bad company."

Monday, November 29, 2021

Before the China Shock, There Was the NAFTA Shock

Interesting NBER paper. Paywalled but you can read the earlier working paper for free (link below).
"Why have white, less educated voters left the Democratic Party over the past few decades? Scholars have proposed ethnocentrism, social issues and deindustrialization as potential answers. We highlight the role played by the 1994 North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). In event-study analysis, we demonstrate that counties whose 1990 employment depended on industries vulnerable to NAFTA suffered large and persistent employment losses relative to other counties. These losses begin in the mid-1990s and are only modestly offset by transfer programs. While exposed counties historically voted Democratic, in the mid-1990s they turn away from the party of the president (Bill Clinton) who ushered in the agreement and by 2000 vote majority Republican in House elections. Employing a variety of micro-data sources, including 1992-1994 respondent-level panel data, we show that protectionist views predict movement toward the GOP in the years that NAFTA is debated and implemented. This shift among protectionist respondents is larger for whites (especially men and those without a college degree) and those with conservative social views, suggesting an interactive effect whereby racial identity and social-issue positions mediate reactions to economic policies."

Friday, November 26, 2021

The Balance Between Safety and Justice

Striking that balance has been, to say the least, quite a challenge for Democrats. Recent events do not enhance one's optimism on this score. Excellent column by James Hohmann in the Post:

Wednesday, November 24, 2021

The Common Good: An Idea So Crazy It Just Might Work!

John Halpin explains in his latest at The Liberal Patriot:
"Is it any wonder that the Democratic Party’s brand is in the toilet these days? Voters don’t have a clue what Democrats are talking about half the time but sense that it has little to do with them or their values.
Much of modern progressive-left discourse sounds like a dreary small group discussion in sociology class. “Systemic problem this” and “structural change that” with no clarity whatsoever about what is being discussed, why it matters, and why anyone should care. Contemporary progressive language often seems designed to alienate and confuse people rather than find shared priorities and connections across disparate groups....
According to Pew’s data, Americans draw ideas about what is right and wrong in the world from several sources—religion among them for one-third of Americans, along with common sense (45 percent), philosophy (11 percent), and science (9 percent).
American values rightly emerge from a nice blend of all these sources.
But rather than listen to another strange Democratic speech on systemic inequality or a 10-point plan about a complicated new social policy that few people understand, it would be nice occasionally if religious Democrats just said: “We believe everyone is equal in the eyes of God and under our Constitution. Our policies are motivated by a desire to secure the common good for the entire nation and equal dignity and rights for all people.”
What would a Democratic politics motivated by concern for the common good look like? As Ruy Teixeira and I outlined way back in 2006 in a report for The American Prospect entitled, “The Politics of Definition”:
"Securing the common good means putting the public interest above narrow self-interest and group demands; working to achieve social and economic conditions that benefit everyone; promoting a personal, governmental and corporate ethic of responsibility and service to others; creating a more open and honest governmental structure that relies upon an engaged and participatory citizenry; and doing more to meet our common responsibilities to aid the disadvantaged, protect our natural resources, and provide opportunities rather than burdens for future generations...
A primary goal of the government in this approach is to ensure basic fairness and opportunity: the civil, legal, and economic arrangements necessary to ensure every American has a real shot at his or her dreams. Common-good progressivism does not guarantee that everybody will be the same, think the same, or get the same material benefits in life; it simply means that people should start from a level playing field and have a reasonable chance at achieving success…
Internationally, common-good progressivism focuses on new and revitalized global leadership grounded in the integrated use of military, economic, and diplomatic power; the just use of force; global engagement; new institutions and networks to deal with intractable problems; and global equity. As in past battles against fascism and totalitarianism, common-good progressives today seek to fight global extremism by using a comprehensive national-security strategy that employs all our strengths for strategic and moral advantage. This requires true leadership and global cooperation rather than the dominant “my-way-or-the-highway” mentality…
Progressives should not forget that the common good is a powerful theme in the social teachings of many major faith traditions—Catholicism and mainline Protestantism, in particular, and in moderate evangelical and other denominations as well. The principle of the common good is drawn upon in these faiths to guide people towards more thoughtful consideration of their own actions in light of others; to compel political leaders and policymakers to consider the needs of the entire society; and to check unrestrained individualism that frequently erodes community sensibilities and values.
The goal of the common good in both the secular and faith traditions is a more balanced and considerate populace that seeks to provide the social and economic conditions necessary for all people to lead meaningful and dignified lives."
These common good values, in turn, underlie Democrats’ efforts to advance affordable health care, support for the poor, family and environmental policies, and public investments. If Democrats lead with consensus values like these—religious or otherwise—then specific policies and messages will flow more naturally and persuasively for voters."
The common good: it was a great idea then, it's an even better idea now!