America’s political landscape has been shifting quite rapidly over the past decade. The parties of Republicans, Democrats, and even Libertarians have seen an evolution in their make-up. But the Democratic Party appears to have experienced the most significant shift, especially when it comes to how its members identify. Moreover, a recent Gallup poll revealed a distinct leftward tilt in the party that could have substantial ramifications for the future.
Democrats Becoming Less Moderate
Democrats have been embroiled in a civil war over the past ten years, and the brouhaha shows no signs of abating in the near future. The moderate faction has been clashing with the progressive crowd over the direction of the party.
So far, the less-radical clique has managed to maintain control of the party, but this could be changing soon, according to Gallup:
“After hovering near 50% in recent years, the percentage of Democrats who identify as politically liberal rose four percentage points in 2022 to 54%, a new high for this group. At the same time, the 10% describing themselves as conservative is the lowest to date. Thirty-six percent say their views are moderate, which is typical of the level recorded for Democrats over the past decade.
“Longer term, Democrats have been growing more liberal since at least the mid-1990s when Gallup regularly began tracking party groups’ ideological views. The percentage identifying as liberal was 25% in 1994; it rose to 40% by 2010 and 50% by 2017.”
The survey revealed a marked shift leftward among all demographic categories. However, the most significant change was with white Democrats. “More than six in 10 White Democrats identified as liberal in 2022, representing a 37-percentage-point increase since 1994,” according to the report. “That contrasts with closer to four in 10 Black and Hispanic Democrats identifying as liberal last year, up less than 20 points from 1994.”
The fact that the percentage of liberal Democrats has increased could reflect a myriad of factors that have materialized over the past decade.
Why the Shift?
One of the reasons why more Democrats are choosing to identify as liberals could be due to progressives turning the word “moderate” into an ugly label. For instance, it has been repeatedly used to characterize Sens. Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Kyrsten Sinema (I-AZ), who have bucked the party on multiple occasions.
Before switching to Independent, Sinema ruffled more than a few feathers among Democrats when she opposed ending the filibuster and packing the Supreme Court. Machin has been excoriated on the left for taking the same positions. In fact, he has received vicious criticism from members of his own party for remaining firm in his stances. The New York Times reported last year:
“Activists aggressively protested against Manchin, some in kayaks outside his houseboat in Washington, others surrounding his car and chanting a vulgarity at him. One Democratic House member called him ‘anti-Black, anti-child, anti-woman and anti-immigrant,’ while others called him untrustworthy. Bernie Sanders accused Manchin of ‘intentionally sabotaging the president’s agenda’ and suggested that Manchin’s wealthy donors were the reason. Other critics called him a shill for the energy industry, noting that he personally owns a coal company.”
With prominent leftists and members of the activist media painting moderates in such a negative light, perhaps Democratic voters would rather identify as liberal. But it also is worth noting that the increase could be a result of progressive ideology becoming more influential in the party. Far-leftist politicians, while not having enough power to impose their radical agenda, have been among the loudest calling on the party to move further to the left. Moreover, these individuals seem to get the most attention.
Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), Rashida Tlaib (D-MI), Ilhan Omar (D-MN), Ayanna Pressley (D-MA), and Cori Bush (D-MO), otherwise known as the Squad, remain darlings of the media elite. They also have been vociferous critics of President Joe Biden and other Democrats whose positions are closer to the center. Further, progressive ideas are being increasingly pushed in America’s institutions.
Schools have been infusing far-leftist ideology into the classroom for more than a decade. The film and television industries are promoting progressive ideas more aggressively in their programming. In university classes, college students are becoming indoctrinated into the tenets of wokeism and other Marxist concepts. Given these factors, it should be no surprise that the percentage of those identifying as “liberals” is on the rise.
This trend could be positive news for progressives over the long term. If it continues, they just might win more primary races and unseat moderate and conservative Democrats. This could eventually result in these leaders gaining enough power to challenge the establishment. While progressives currently lack the level of influence necessary to enact their socialist agenda, perhaps they need only to bide their time.
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