Are we all big government conservatives now?

By JOE SCARBOROUGH

Every year, liberal bloggers and talk show hosts become unhinged when polls are released that suggest conservatives outnumber liberals by a 2-to-1 margin. This past year left-wing bloggers became particularly unhinged when a fact-checking organization declared it “mostly true” that the majority of Americans were conservative. Apparently, Politifact’s opinion on the semantic difference between  “plurality” and “majority” was of such great import to American liberals that this fake controversy warranted weeks of ideological screeching.

Hold on to your Cheetos sports fans, because Gallup just released its annual poll on voters’ ideological bent, and once again self-described conservatives outnumbered liberals by a 2-to-1 margin. In fact, 46% of Americans now call themselves “economic conservatives” while only 20% describe themselves as “liberal”.

Predictably, fewer voters labeled themselves “conservative” on social issues.

So let the screaming match begin between ideological camps. But for those interested in how voters’ attitudes will impact the 2012 presidential election, the Gallup poll’s trend line suggest that voters are becoming more economically conservative as a reaction to George W. Bush and Barack Obama’s big bailouts in 2008 and 2009, and the never-ending debate over health care.

The obvious irony is that while Americans like to think of themselves as rugged individualists who are perfectly capable of pulling themselves up by their own bootstraps, these same cowboys would tar and feather any leader who tried to curb spending on Medicare, Social Security, farm subsidies, defense contracts, student loans or any other part of America’s $4 trillion budget.

So perhaps we are dealing with the self-delusion of citizens who are every bit as addicted to massive government spending as their European cousins. Still, delusional voters are allowed into voting booths on election day. That means Barack Obama had better learn to channel Bill Clinton sooner rather than later– and praise the glories of small government individualism while running a federal government whose debt is racing toward $20 trillion.

This Ope-d appeared on Politico on 5/28/12

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