Neal Sheeran

Rants, Raves, and Geekery

Political Ideology


A few days ago, Jason Kottke linked to a graphic depicting how the Republicans in Congress have become more conservative over the last thirty years, while the liberal Democrats have remained unchanged.

I’m not familiar with the methodology and I don’t doubt that the main point here is true, but a few points to ponder:

  1. Are we supposed to believe the GOP has become more conservative in a vacuum? I disagree that liberal Democrat ideology has stayed roughly the same. To wit:
  2. Where are the Scoop Jackson Democrats?
  3. Does anyone think JFK could win a Democratic primary today?
  4. If voting to basically nationalize 1/6 of the nation’s economy with Obamacare is not a leftward shift, why did it only happen in this decade?
  5. How does this ‘radically conservative’ GOP manage to still win elections? How did they pick up 63 House seats in 2010, more than the 54 gained in 1994?

I don’t dispute that the Republican Party has shifted rightward over the years, but I also think a very large portion of the electorate has as well.

Update (29 Oct): xkcd has a much more interesting chart (standard) that shows much the same thing, but also indicates a significant leftward shift as well.