A Third Way

I have long felt that there is a space in U.S. politics for a party which holds traditionally right-wing views on social issues but traditionally left-wing views on economic issues. Many voters in the U.S. vote against their economic interests in support of their social views. The limousine liberal is a cliché, a wealthy person who votes in favor of higher taxes on the wealthy. Conversely there are many poor people who vote for Republican candidates because they oppose abortion, accepting the fact that those same candidates will vote to cut services their supporters rely on every day, such as food stamps and WIC. So why not a candidate who stands against abortion, against teaching evolution in schools, against gay marriage, but in favor of governmental support for the poor? Some conservative Democrats do take that position, but they are a small minority within the party.

I read recently that France’s National Front has moved into exactly this space. Marine le Pen the traditionally right-wing, racist and anti-Semitic party to be more of an economically left-wing, socially anti-immigrant party. I disagree with her positions in many ways, but I wonder if any U.S. politicians will see an inspiration there.

I suppose the flip side would be socially left-wing and economically right-wing, but many Democrats are in that space already. It pretty much describes Bill Clinton, for example, and Barack Obama is not far off either. The Republican party has been steadily shifting rightward economically–Obama is well to the right of Nixon on economic issues, for example. I don’t know if the Republicans are leading the Democrats to the right, or if the Democrats moving right are pushing the Republicans into ever more extreme positions in order to differentiate themselves.

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