Sunday, 19 October 2003

The gigglesnort test

Matt Stinson tears into CalPundit for his risible suggestion that he, Paul Krugman, and Atrios are “moderates” (see also John Cole). Allow me to add my two cents.

Newsflash to Kevin (and anyone else in punditry under the misguided impression they are moderate): nobody with a well-developed political ideology is a moderate. By definition, if you are liberal, conservative, libertarian, socialist, communist, Enviro-wacko, batshit neocon, or whatever the hell Pat Buchanan and Bob Novak are (paleo-pseudo-con?), you cannot be moderate. George Bush isn’t moderate. Nor is Colin Powell, Janet Reno, Howard Dean, Glenn Reynolds, Megan McArdle, or Kevin Drum. Nor am I.

Most Americans—and most people the world over, in fact—don’t have consistent, ideological belief systems. The absence of those belief systems makes them moderate, because they just react to whatever’s going on in the political ether; if you’re lucky, you might be able to pin their beliefs to some overarching fundamental value (“hard work“, “equality“, “liberty“).

There are only two types of true moderate: people who don’t care about politics, and centrist politicians (and this latter class of people generally care less about politics than they care about keeping their jobs—I defy you to explain the behavior of Arlen Specter or Olympia Snowe otherwise). Bloggers and New York Times columnists aren’t. Anyone who cares enough about politics enough to post several essays a day explicating his or her worldview is not a moderate, and neither is anyone who’s taking time away from his academic career to publish two incoherent essays a week in America’s flagship newspaper.

Said people may be swell, wonderful, good fun at parties, open-minded, and paragons of virtue and erudition. It is not a sin to have an ideology; in fact, it is a good thing. So please don’t insult my intelligence by pretending you don’t have one.

Thursday, 13 August 2009

Counterintuitive finding of the day

Andrew Gelman shows 2008 figures that indicate that there is virtually no relationship between income and self-reported ideology in the U.S. electorate.

This finding is subject to the usual caveats: namely, that everyone thinks they’re moderate, that most people really don’t think about politics in ideological terms (at least in the broad categories of “liberal” and “conservative”), and that these ideological terms themselves are fuzzy categories capturing multiple underlying political orientations to begin with. But at first blush it does contradict the accepted wisdom.