Gallup finds Minnesota not as ‘liberal’ as its reputation

Gallup ranked the 50 states (plus the District of Columbia) according a poll in which residents were asked to describe themselves as “liberal,” “moderate” or “conservative.”

Wyoming won the “conservative” honors, with 51.4 percent calling themselves “conservative,” 34.6 percent “moderate and just 10.9 percent “liberal.” For its ultimate ranking, Gallup ignores the moderates and subtracts the liberals from the conservatives. So Wyoming led all states with a “conservative advantage” of 40.5 percentage points. The rest of the “most conservative” top 10 list went Mississippi, Idaho, Utah, Louisiana, Arkansas, Alabama, Tennessee, North Dakota and South Carolina.

The most liberal place was D.C., and by a huge margin, with a liberal advantage of  16.5 percentage points. Among actual states, Vermont was most “liberal” with 5.6 percent more self-identified liberals than conservatives, followed by Massachusetts, Hawaii, New York, Connecticut, Delaware, New Jersey, California, Maine and Oregon.

You’ll note that Minnesota, despite its national reputation as something of a liberal bastion, didn’t make either top 10 list. We came in tied (with Michigan and New Mexico) for 20th most liberal with a conservative advantage of 12.9 percentages points.

The breakdown for Minnesota was 36.2 percent self-identified conservatives, 37.6 moderates and just 23.3 percent liberals.

In all, only three states had more self-identified liberals than conservatives. It would be impossible to reconcile most of these figures with what we know about voting behavior. Obviously, the word “liberal” is somewhat toxic; that a great many people who vote for Democrats prefer to consider themselves “moderates;” and that Democratic candidates get the votes of the most of the self-identified “moderates.”

Nationally, the ideological self-identifications broke down this way:

  • Conservative: 38 percent
  • Moderate: 34 percent
  • Liberal: 23 percent

In fact, that breakdown represents the highest showing for “liberal” since Gallup started taking this annual survey in 1992.

Gallup’s writeup of the state-by-state results is here. The 20-year lookback at the national numbers is here.

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Comments (59)

  1. Submitted by Hiram Foster on 02/03/2014 - 09:29 am.


    To determine whether a state is liberal or conservative, a better way would be to poll on specific issues which divide liberals and conservatives.

  2. Submitted by Ray Schoch on 02/03/2014 - 10:10 am.


    I find myself wondering how this “conservative,” “moderate,” “liberal” percentages correlate to “Republican,” “Independent,” and “Democrat” labels. Maybe no one has done that sort of survey – or, given people’s tendencies to fudge on these kinds of things, maybe it would be pointless to do so, but what immediately comes to my own mind when I see these kinds of figures and polls is that one of the interesting things in Colorado state politics is that the electorate there is in a virtual 3-way tie between “Republican,” “Democrat” and “Independent.” We seem to be approaching that here, as well.

    If you’re a candidate, this is the sort of thing that drives you crazy, since your “base” isn’t enough to get you elected, or reelected, easily, and you have to somehow persuade those “independent” voters to choose you. But who, exactly, are those “independents?”

    As Eric suggested, much of it depends upon semantics. What does each of the labels actually mean in terms of values, lifestyle, political practice, etc.? Those are more difficult questions to answer, and humans are, to be kind, inconsistent about such things.

  3. Submitted by Bill Gleason on 02/03/2014 - 10:58 am.

    I have to agree with Ray

    I consider myself to be a fiscal conservative with respect to higher education. Mostly because I have enough personal experience with it to believe that re-ordering of priorities, not necessarily more money, would solve a lot of our problems.

    On most other matters I confess to being pretty liberal.

    So what does that make me?

  4. Submitted by Paul Brandon on 02/03/2014 - 11:14 am.

    States aren’t liberal or conservative

    Voters are.
    The problem is that we don’t know how individuals actually vote; just what they report on exit surveys and other self reports. All of these measures have known flaws.
    As a result, any attempt at analyzing why individuals vote the way they do, or characterizing them, is going to involve a lot a supposition.
    All we have is the aggregate result: the actual vote.
    Unfortunately, any result can have more than one possible cause.

  5. Submitted by Lora Jones on 02/03/2014 - 11:28 am.

    Eric, really, these kind of polls are worthless

    largely because no one agrees on the definition of the terms. The cynical part of me that suspects organizational bias skewed Gallup’s very Romney-friendly polls in 2012 can’t help but wonder if they trotted this tired old “self-identification” poll out to bolster the Republican’s “center right country” meme. There have been a good number of polls out recently, on everything from gun regulation to gay marriage to wealth and income inequality to Medicare to the national debt, i.e., polls that DO deal with issues (as Mr. Foster would wish) which show that the US is, if anything, left to center left.

  6. Submitted by Dennis Tester on 02/03/2014 - 12:52 pm.

    Conservatives know who they are

    and don’t hesitate to tell you they’re a conservative. Politicians running in a GOP primary will argue over who is the most conservative, and will readily admit to what they believe in and why.

    Liberals? Not so much. And I believe it’s because being a liberal isn’t as well defined ideologically in the culture since most liberals distance themselves from leftist thinkers like Marx, economically or Margaret Sanger socially, and so liberal politicians are reluctant to label themselves as such lest voters read too much into the label and judge them accordingly.

    “Moderates” are people who haven’t the life experience or intellectual capacity to yet decide on a set of values or a philosophy of life. When it comes time to vote, they tend to vote for the prevailing media favorite. Chris Christie’s falling in the polls, for example, are the result of the media telling them that he screwed up, just as his rise in the polls were the result of the media telling them that he was worthy of their support, even if he is a republican.

    Mrs. Bill Clinton’s fate will rise or fall depending upon how she’s portrayed in the media to the so-called “moderates.”

  7. Submitted by Rosalind Kohls on 02/03/2014 - 02:31 pm.


    A lot of people who call themselves “moderates,” “centrists,” or “independents” believe it makes them sound more intelligent than the average person. Actually, they are just like everyone else, conservative or liberal. The best way to tell what people are, is by their actions, not the labels they give themselves or given to them by the news media.

    • Submitted by Paul Brandon on 02/03/2014 - 03:15 pm.

      And more of them

      feel that the wingnuts on both ends of the political spectrum lack productive solutions.
      And that simple solutions usually ignore important variables.

  8. Submitted by John Appelen on 02/03/2014 - 04:44 pm.

    Definitions Matter

    At G2A I tried to get my readers to weigh in on what each term meant in terms of cost of government.

    The terms Progressive, Liberal and Obama all fell in about the same place. (about where we are today) Yet in my years of blogging, most of the readers and commenters from the Left seem to prefer to be called “Progressives” rather than “Liberals”. Whereas the Conservatives are proud to be called Conservatives. Not sure what that means.

    Personally I think gallup should have people identify where they fit on the Nolan chart. People seem to require that other axis to describe their “personal freedom” beliefs. (ie I am a fiscal Conservative with Libertarian leanings… personal issues 50 economic issues 70)

  9. Submitted by beryl john-knudson on 02/04/2014 - 09:04 am.

    Label a man Label an additude…simple eh?

    “Progressive” is a term that received more credibility after Wellstone applied it… or was applied to him rather than the less definitive term “Liberal” since liberal polices fused with libertarian suggest one is knowledgeable enough to support social and cultural values, ideologies but are not willing to support the funding; the follow through?

    Labels are a simple way of categorize a person without discovering what or why he is so labeled?

    Gallup was a boy from Iowa so where did he and his attendant polls have their roots,ho!

    The world is full of labels…the better to avoid listening or thinking outside-the-box, whatever?

    • Submitted by John Appelen on 02/04/2014 - 02:50 pm.

      Common Jargon

      Since the world is full of labels, it is beneficial to understand roughly the definition of each. It would be interesting if Gallup had defined each term before asking people to self identify… I wonder if it would have changed the results.

      I also hope they were very careful with their random sampling, the rural vs urban mix is pretty important in evaluating MN’s political views. Remember the No Gay Marriage amendment results.

      • Submitted by Dennis Tester on 02/04/2014 - 04:01 pm.

        Instead of conservative, liberal and moderate

        I prefer individualist, collectivist, and undecided.

        The other terms are relative to some point on an ambiguous line.

        • Submitted by Paul Brandon on 02/04/2014 - 06:48 pm.

          Those are labels

          for your perceptions of other people’s beliefs.

        • Submitted by John Appelen on 02/04/2014 - 08:12 pm.


          Selfish, Naive and Confused?

        • Submitted by John Appelen on 02/04/2014 - 10:53 pm.


          I could be making light of the topic and you are too serious.

          The reason I created the continuum was to see where folks thought each label landed between pure Socialism (collectivist, naïve, etc) and pure Capitalism (individualist, selfish, etc) , since we live in a Mixed Economy like most/all countries in the world.

          The interesting result was that the Liberals / Progressives thought government collecting and controlling ~40% of the GDP was where they would be comfortable. The irony of course is that we are near that point if you count Local, State and Federal collections/expenditures, and yet rarely have I heard a Liberal say that government should stop growing because it is big enough. Typically they say gov’t should collect and redistribute more in the name of fairness… I have to wonder how far Left many of them want to go. (ie gov’t guiding 50+% of our GDP?)

          Whereas the Conservatives seemed more consistent. They thought government was too big and that it should only cost/redistribute ~25% of the GDP… Leaving 75% for the individual citizens to use as they see fit.

          • Submitted by Paul Brandon on 02/05/2014 - 09:28 am.


            The Far Left here is the middle in the civilized world.
            The political spectrum has shifted to the point where we really don’t have a ‘far left’ any more. Not since Bill Clinton appropriated the middle for the Democratic Party.

            The other point (not a new one) is that during a recession like the current one, GDP goes down (it is recovering, but that’s a relative term) and government expenditures on social services go up.

            As the GDP continues to recover, government expenditures as a proportion of GDP will decline even if the absolute amount were to remain constant.

            • Submitted by John Appelen on 02/05/2014 - 01:36 pm.

              Directionally Correct

              The continuum was not supposed to be precise / perfect.

              Even with business cycle variation it is easy to see that in the 1950 government directed/spent ~25% of our GDP. Whereas today government is directing/spending ~38% of our GDP.

              The Liberals, Progressives, Collectivists, Naive, etc folks seem happy with this trend, whereas the Conservatives, Individualists, Selfish, etc folks are alarmed and concerned by it. (matches continuum)

              The irony is that the fiscal Liberals keep saying that the fiscal Conservatives “have changed”, when the numbers clearly show that it is the fiscal Liberals who keep pulling the country to the Left. That is why I am curious when they will think we have gone far enough. My guess is when they start having to pay for their beliefs from their own wallet.

              • Submitted by Dan Landherr on 02/06/2014 - 10:19 am.

                Conservatives talk a lot about too much government spending

                But never seem to come up with government programs they benefit from that they would like to cut.

                The disagreement doesn’t seem to really be about “too much” or “too little” but about the priorities. Many people on the left would love to cut defense spending but won’t touch social security. Many on the right would cut social security, but only for people who aren’t currently getting checks because they know their constituents are older. Nobody is willing to cut their favorite program to shrink government and so very little changes as long as each program has a majority coalition of support. Maybe that means government is the “right” size after all.

                Look at the recent farm bill. The left won’t cut food stamps and the right won’t cut farm subsidies so the only way to get a bill passed is to go with more of the same. There is no re-invention of how services are delivered because there is no political benefit to either side.

                • Submitted by John Appelen on 02/07/2014 - 06:54 pm.

                  True, but…

                  As a very wise man said… Probably Ben Franklin…
                  “When the people find that they can vote themselves money, that will herald the end of the republic.”


                  Besides one can also study the fall of other great societies throughout history. Many fail from within.

                  • Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 02/09/2014 - 11:09 am.

                    238 years and counting….

                    Yeah, it’s been 238 years and voters still having figured it out… It’s a miracle our Republic has survived.

                    • Submitted by John Appelen on 02/09/2014 - 07:31 pm.

                      The curve is a Changin

                      So ~160 years at <10%, up to ~38% now, and continuing to climb... I am sure many Romans thought their Republic/Empire was going to last forever...

                    • Submitted by Jon Lord on 02/10/2014 - 08:44 am.


                      did pretty well. Their downfall was in their politicians robbing their own coffers and being in a constant environment of war. That combined with choosing poor leaders and their habit of killing them off. Their infrastructure was a marvel though and was largely responsible for their length of time as a power.

                      It’s a mystery to me why conservatives don’t want to spend money on our infrastructure. Well, that is, I understand it’s their aversion to spending money, but I don’t understand why they are against putting people to work when there is an obvious reason to do so.

                      This amazes me, the tea party Republicans left their office building owing over a million in back rent. I guess that can be said to be conserving money though. Conservatives don’t like spending money on people unless it’s going to their cronies and our war machine. Somehow they always raise the country’s debt far more than the liberals do, then complain bitterly when liberals raise it just a wee bit more. The difference between liberals and conservatives is where they spend the money.

                      By the way, in case someone doesn’t understand this, our public Welfare costs include roads, parks, waterways, etc.

  10. Submitted by beryl john-knudson on 02/05/2014 - 09:17 am.

    Political persuasions as tribalism…

    Political consistency is not necessarily a virtue…sometimes it registers one’s inability to recognize small truths beyond our own ‘acceptable’ labels or reflects fear of change itself.

    If we can identify and support one political label we need no longer consider the ‘other’… and then too, collective thinking patterns that evolve into political doctrine, one could say, are inherent in the nature of survival in society…some do call it tribalism…so it goes.

    • Submitted by John Appelen on 02/05/2014 - 12:38 pm.


      I think I agree. I have a hard time getting my commenters to ever vary too far from the “voice of the tribe”. I posted about open minds and both sides keep talking past each other. I suppose things are easier if all you have to do is “read the lines” instead of really work to become truly self aware.

  11. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 02/06/2014 - 10:53 am.

    Hiram is right…

    Polls like this based on self identification are really kind of useless. They assume universal knowledge and perspectives regarding the nature of the political landscape. The “moderate” identifiers are the most unreliable because they tend to identify based on extremist aversion rather than actually positions. I’m surprised anyone would actually spend the money conducting a poll like this frankly, we know they’re unreliable.

    • Submitted by John Appelen on 02/07/2014 - 07:32 pm.

      Dennis is right…

      Personally I think Dennis is more spot on. This is an important measure of self perception and alliances.

      Not sure why fewer people want to ally themselves with the term Liberal, but it may be telling.

  12. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 02/06/2014 - 10:57 am.

    Conservatives know who they are?

    This is funny coming from a guy who’s constantly telling us that various conservatives are not “real” conservatives. For instance Bachmann’s a “real” conservative but John McCain isn’t. Meanwhile the difference between a reactionary and a conservative is completely lost amongst would-be party enforcers.

  13. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 02/06/2014 - 10:59 am.


    Careful, we have real people who belong to actual tribes in these parts. There are ways of describing irrationality and ideological extremism that don’t malign other cultures.

    • Submitted by John Appelen on 02/07/2014 - 07:37 pm.

      Not maligning

      “irrationality and ideological extremism ”

      People who share views and follow the herd are not necessarily irrational nor extreme. They just have other priorities and trust their fellow tribal members.

  14. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 02/06/2014 - 01:33 pm.

    Government spending?

    One of the problems with conservative economic theories is that they rely on the magic theory that less is always better. They actually have no data to support the theory that for instance it’s actually better if government spending is 23% of GDP instead of 34%. What we know is that some government spending is better than other but there’s no over-all reliable model that tells us less is always better. This is why for all their complaints about “big” government conservatives can never really tell you what they’re actually talking about. What is their “ideal” size of a government for a nation like the United States? And what are we even talking about? Square feet occupied by government property? The number of Government employees? The deficit? The percentage of GDP? What’s the target and why? Nada.

    Meanwhile if you look any significant economic data set you’ll find that if the US has a problem, it’s not hight taxes or government spending. You know who’s got really low taxes and almost no government spending? Somalia. Meanwhile some high tax high spending countries like Norway and the Netherlands have economies that consistently out perform ours on a variety of measures.

    Since no one is advocating unlimited government, (and by the way, “limited” government was a liberal idea) and our constitution has built in limits, the “belief” in limited government is actually incoherent in a liberal democracy. So you start with a bizarre belief that someone somewhere who is probably a liberal who invented limited governments is trying to replace a limited government with an unlimited one and it just goes down hill from there. This is how you end up with irrational beliefs that a health care law and 34% of something has put us on the road to communism.

    • Submitted by John Appelen on 02/07/2014 - 08:01 pm.

      Grow or Reduce Wealth?

      Spending that grows or protects America’s wealth and encourages people to participate is good spending… Spending that is neutral is neutral… Spending that reduces America’s wealth or encourages people to freeload on the efforts of others is not good.

      Funding the military (ie supports trade and world stability), education (high value add), new technologies (ie space race) and some infrastructure projects are “good”.

      Funding safety trampolines (ie not hammocks), necessary regulatory compliance, political system, caring for old/infirm, etc are necessary, if not wealth builders.

      Funding welfare for healthy Americans, infrastructure projects with little financial pay back, excessive regulatory, etc are a drain on America’s wealth and should be minimized.

      Norway is a hermit with oil money… No comparison.

      Netherlands is similar without the oil…

      • Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 02/08/2014 - 09:34 am.

        Thanks John

        With the exception of military spending and transportation you’ve given us a nice summary of liberal economic theory. If someone somewhere were advocating fraud, unnecessary regulation, and welfare programs for people who don’t need them, you might find someone to argue with.

        Military spending on expensive weapons that we don’t need (how many nuclear submarines did we deploy against Iraq?) encourages more freeloading (look at the military budget) than welfare programs. The expectation that public transportation projects should be profitable i.e. provide “pay back” is a little dicey. Eisenhower didn’t expect the interstate highway system wold turn a profit for instance. Measuring the “payback” of infrastructure is more complex than many anti-choo choo Republicans seem to realize.

        I’m afraid however that your point about Norway and the Netherlands is a distinction looking for a difference. For one thing the US is the worlds 3rd largest oil producer while Norway comes in at 14 and the Netherlands 61st. The US is the largest economy in the world and our per capita GDP is more or less the same as Norway and the Netherlands. I suppose I could thank you for pointing out that government spending and taxes in and of themselves don’t frame economies, but that just confirms my point that any economic theory that constantly demands nothing but less government spending and lower taxes is incoherent.

        • Submitted by John Appelen on 02/08/2014 - 01:09 pm.

          Technology / Peace Funding

          The military and space programs are expensive and yet they give us wonderful American technologies,. Definitely more practical than giving grants to Professors to “research stuff”, since the military / NASA have demanding goals to attain or people die.

          Norway apparently has a population of ~5 million very homogeneous citizens, and does little outside its borders to help stabilize the world. For comparison, imagine if MN was the #14 world oil source. Would you compare it to a large, diverse, world peace keeper like the USA. Of course not.

          That is unless you think the USA military should close up shop around the world and leave the peace keeping to Norway. Of course that would probably destabilize many regions and constrain America’s ability to trade and support our GDP. On the upside we would probably find even more countries who would want to buy our military products.

          So how many subs do you think we need to keep the world relatively stable? Please note that our Iranian friends are sending a couple warships into the Atlantic as I write.

          • Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 02/08/2014 - 05:22 pm.

            A swing and a miss

            Yes, we got spin-off’s from the space program, we don’t from military technology. The space program was a non-classified civilian project. Military programs and technology are classified and take the technology can take decades to filter into civilian use. So why have conservatives slashed NASA’s budget while protecting and enlarging the defense budget?

            As for the population of Norway… hence my reference to PER CAPITA GDP.

            • Submitted by John Appelen on 02/09/2014 - 07:52 am.

              Suppliers Matter

              As long as the military’s suppliers work in the private and public sectors, I think you would be amazed how fast those technologies or portions of those technologies move. See, the companies are conducting a lot of testing to meet those military specs. And we have quite a few of those firms located in the Midwest, and in the Twin Cities. The autonomous vehicle and drone technologies are transferring very quickly indeed.


              The same PER CAPITA GDP matters if the complexity, roles and responsibilities are similar. In this case they are not.

              • Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 02/09/2014 - 11:18 am.

                Uh huh

                “The same PER CAPITA GDP matters if the complexity, roles and responsibilities are similar. In this case they are not.”

                But no matter how complex or different the economies taxes and government spending should always be lower.

              • Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 02/09/2014 - 11:26 am.

                Faith doesn’t trump reality

                “As long as the military’s suppliers work in the private and public sectors, I think you would be amazed how fast those technologies or portions of those technologies move.”

                I wouldn’t be surprised at all. Faith in the “private sector” doesn’t trump the reality of defense spending. We’ve always gotten more spin-offs from general research funding in the civilian sector than defense spending. That trend increased dramatically during the cold war and continues to this day. We had this argument back in the 80s when “Star Wars” (missile defense) proponents tried to argue how great the spin offs would be. $100 billion later we got nothing, and they still can’t shoot anything down under realistic circumstances.

                Besides, all defense spending quasi private sector in nature.

          • Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 02/08/2014 - 05:47 pm.

            The other wrong with conservative economics…

            Is that it rarely has much to do with economics.

            “That is unless you think the USA military should close up shop around the world and leave the peace keeping to Norway. Of course that would probably destabilize many regions and constrain America’s ability to trade and support our GDP.”

            John, armies don’t make peace, they fight wars. The military isn’t an economic instrument. Do I need provide a list of US wars? The one we’re currently fighting is the longest in our nations history. These wars do not stabilize regions or economies. You’ll not that our big huge military failed to stave the big damn recession we just had. Our military interventions more often than not destabilize regions.

            The other thing you might want to is take a peek at is our Constitution. The function of our military is to defend the nation, not secure raw materials and markets around the world. And why is it when we point out that the Iraq war about oil, you guys deny it? So your saying we should buy our oil with American lives instead of money and THAT’s the function of our military?

            • Submitted by John Appelen on 02/09/2014 - 07:53 pm.

              What would you have done?

              So it seems you are lobbying to close most of our foreign bases, guard our borders and let the rest of the world “deal with it”. You are correct that it would save us a lot of cost. Pretty sure it would also cost us a lot of revenue and well rested nights.

              I am guessing that means you would have let Saddam keep our ally Kuwait. Or maybe you would still have us still patrolling the no fly zones while Saddam persisted and killed…

              And the folks in the Balkans should have been allowed to keep killing each other. And we shouldn’t have worked to get the chemical weapons out of Syria. Or try to toss the oppressive and terrorist friendly Taliban regime out of power. And we certainly should have never have entered South Korea… And we should pull out immediately.

              Personally I believe that with great power comes great responsibility. We may not be able to help everyone, but we should try when the problem coincides with an American interest. And since we have an all volunteer military, it is hard to claim that we are forcing citizens to participate against their free will.

  15. Submitted by Karen Sandness on 02/06/2014 - 10:05 pm.

    The problem with self-identification is that there are

    two kinds of liberalism and conservatism: political-economic and behavioral.

    For example, political-economic conservatives would want few restrictions on business, low and/or flat taxes, privatization of as much as possible, a strong military, and minimal assistance for the vulnerable, while political-economic liberals would want more restrictions on business, progressive taxes, public ownership of essential services, a less militarized foreign policy, and more assistance for the vulnerable.

    Behavioral conservatives would take traditional views of sexual and other social issues, while behavioral liberals would take a more laissez-faire approach to these issues.

    People are not necessarily conservative or liberal on both of these axes. For example, Libertarians are political-economic conservatives and behavioral liberals, while “Sojourners”-type Christians are political-economic liberals and behavioral conservatives.

    Even these classifications are overly simplified, because people can be liberal or conservative on most issues with one or two exceptions that they have a special personal interest in. For example, former Congressman James Oberstar was liberal on most issues but consistently voted for restrictions on abortion. Oregon Congressman Peter DeFazio is consistently one of the most liberal members of Congress, but he always votes against gun control.

    Human beings are complex creatures. Most of us don’t buy the whole package of any political stance.

    • Submitted by Dennis Tester on 02/07/2014 - 10:43 am.

      True, but what’s instructive

      is how people “self-identify,” which is what this poll is all about. It doesn’t attempt to gauge whether or not people are really liberal or conservative based on some universal definition but on how people perceive themselves.

      And that’s an interesting measure of the culture and the various portrayals of ideologies that people are exposed to and whether or not those memes are working in society.

      For example, conservatives are portrayed in the popular culture as cold-hearted, old, white, anti-minority, anti-women, etc., and yet with all that negative stereotyping bombarding the culture, twice as many people self-identify as “conservatives” than as “liberals.” I find that fascinating.

      • Submitted by John Appelen on 02/07/2014 - 05:48 pm.


        Like when I threw out “Selfish” as a label… (instead of Conservative)

        I think that the reality is that most of us know the truth. Most Conservatives are very concerned about fairness and their fellow citizens, maybe more so than the Liberals. It is core to our religious teachings and we are taught its importance from our first day in Sunday school.

        We just don’t think that government can do welfare effectively or efficiently. And we believe that entitlement rewards and encourages the wrong behaviors and habits, therefore robbing humans of some very important self fulfillment and joy.

        • Submitted by jason myron on 02/08/2014 - 12:10 pm.


          your proselytizing is just an attempt to rationalize the lack of empathy for others that you and other conservatives deem unworthy. Judging from the actions of conservative lawmakers and the vast majority of comments I read, I’m inclined to believe the latter.

          • Submitted by John Appelen on 02/08/2014 - 05:56 pm.

            Can’t speak for everyone

            Not sure about all Conservatives, however I did some interesting math. It seems that ~10% of my gross income flows through the tax code to fund the “welfare” bureaucracy and support the needy. Now I could easily rationalize that I meet my religion’s tithing recommendation.

            Instead I strive to give above and beyond. (about another 6%, working toward 10…) My favorite charities are the United Way, my public school district, my Church, PRISM, Memorial Blood bank, Cancer research, etc. I have no shortage of empathy, I just believe government does “charity” very poorly with some pretty bad side effects.

    • Submitted by John Appelen on 02/07/2014 - 07:46 pm.

      Nolan Diagrams

      I like the various Nolan diagrams, they take some of this into account.

      Being a anti-abortion pro choicer, I pick on the inconsistency of my Conservative commenters. Continually they say they want government influence minimized, yet they have no hesitancy trying to pass laws to control the morality of others. (ie abortion, euthanasia, gay rights, prostitution, strippers, drugs, pornography, etc)

      Of course the Liberals often say and do similar things. The Nolan diagram explains why this normal.

  16. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 02/08/2014 - 09:51 am.

    Dennis and John almost make a good point


    “For example, conservatives are portrayed in the popular culture as cold-hearted, old, white, anti-minority, anti-women, etc., and yet with all that negative stereotyping bombarding the culture, twice as many people self-identify as “conservatives” than as “liberals.” I find that fascinating.”

    The problem is that some people rely less on stereotypes than others, and not everyone relies on the same stereotypes. The “liberal” i.e. “popular culture” Dennis refers to is a conservative stereotype, not a real entity. Neither or media or our culture are monolithic enough to produce this stereotypical image of conservatives. It’s also more than a little illogical to assume that people who self identify as conservatives are relying on a negative liberal stereotype to make that identification. Obviously conservatives don’t pull their image out of the liberal bag of stereotypes, and since (as Dennis points out) there are more of them than are liberals, the popular culture must not be dominated by liberals.

    John says:

    ” Most Conservatives are very concerned about fairness and their fellow citizens, maybe more so than the Liberals.”

    This whole notion makes sense on a superficial level, the problem is the way American conservatives put their ideology into practice they end up promoting unfair trick-down economics and public policies based on “disciplining” rather than assisting their fellow citizens. They turn public policy into a series of moral judgements rather than rational analysis. This is kind of ironic since it flows out Christian churches, if I’m not mistaken, Christian aren’t supposed to leave moral judgement up to God? Yet here they are building an entire ideology around their own moral judgments.

    • Submitted by John Appelen on 02/08/2014 - 06:04 pm.

      Moral Judgement?

      I am not sure what you are talking about.

      I don’t think expecting citizens to strive to work hard, learn, improve and follow the laws is a religious issue. To me it just good common sense.

      • Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 02/09/2014 - 11:31 am.


        “I don’t think expecting citizens to strive to work hard, learn, improve and follow the laws is a religious issue. To me it just good common sense.”

        That’s common sense all right. That’s why these are NOT unique conservative values. The moral judgement is your assumption that people who receive assistance are lazy and lawless.

        • Submitted by John Appelen on 02/10/2014 - 10:05 am.

          Lost Comment

          A comment was lost, but in essence it said.

          Some are and some are not. Are you arguing that 0% are lazy and/or lawless?

          • Submitted by Matt Haas on 02/10/2014 - 11:36 am.

            Of course some are

            Which is more important however, helping those who need it, or destroying the system to exact retribution on those who do not.

            • Submitted by John Appelen on 02/10/2014 - 05:01 pm.


              Who is trying to destroy it? We are trying to improve it.

              We are discussing this on G2A and a reader said that “Liberals have a more realistic view of the size of safety net needed and the most realistic efficient way to deliver it.”

              Based on the links below I said. “It does not seem that those “realistic efficient” methods are very “effective”. Or is the answer the usual, if only we spent more money on fish, we could fix the problem?”


              Given the poverty flat line and the increasing spend line, what is your rationale for increasing spending even further?

              • Submitted by Matt Haas on 02/10/2014 - 07:11 pm.

                Cutting for cutting sake

                Isn’t an improvement. Its your attempt to influence the morality of those you feel are simply leeching off the system. You personally don’t use the toxic rhetoric of many of your Libertarian brethren, but the sentiment is still there. The discussion will go nowhere as long as folks on the right honestly believe that any significant percentage of people actually choose to live in poverty, solely for the chance to collect meager government benefits. In my 35 years on earth, I”he met plenty of poor folks, not a one made it their life’s goal to avoid work at all costs to live in welfare. Lots and lots of them grew up poor, never had a chance to get a higher education for a variety of reasons, and struggled to make ends meet with dead end, poor paying JOBS. The right seems to believe that through the magic of “want to” all these folks will just find good paying employment if only they are forced to. The reality is that all you’ll be doing is punishing them further than their life if poverty already has, after which they’ll just be worse off than previously. All the his to reduce the what 5% or SK of federal spending that goes toward welfare and related social programs. As previous posters have noted, there are much bigger fish to fry, how’s about an fifty percent haircut on defense for starters, don’t worry, we’ll still far and away be the largest military force on earth, we just won’t be larger than everyone else combined. You might remember, the Cold War ended, its time the military noticed.

                • Submitted by John Appelen on 02/11/2014 - 03:03 pm.

                  What they don’t know

                  My belief is that many of them do not know that they are causing their own pain. At least that is how it is with my friends who never seem to be able to get ahead. ( ie problems conforming and getting along at work, relationship issues, not saving and spending unwisely, etc) They are great people who just seem to have a hard time. So why do you think poor people are poor? Here were some of my thoughts…

                  So why do you think the academic achievement gap exists? Poverty is highly correlated with it and we provide all children a free public education.

                  Regarding the defense budget, see my response to Pat.

    • Submitted by John Appelen on 02/08/2014 - 06:52 pm.

      Lifes Greatest Lessons

      Here are good ideas for everyone. No morale judgments required.

  17. Submitted by Todd Hintz on 02/10/2014 - 11:54 am.

    Military Spending

    One of the things I find missing from this whole discussion is that we simply cannot afford to be the world’s police force. Just looking at one aspect of the military, we have more aircraft carriers than the rest of the world combined. Why do we need so many? Perhaps instead of spending money on hardware that gets used up on the other side of the world we can instead use it to improve our own infrastructure here at home.

    • Submitted by Pat Berg on 02/10/2014 - 10:38 pm.

      John’s answer

      Earlier he wrote “Personally I believe that with great power comes great responsibility. We may not be able to help everyone, but we should try when the problem coincides with an American interest.”

      And that’s how they justify not simply the idea of being the world’s police force, but – since we can’t do it all – how we pick when and where we do.

      Yup – where conservatives are concerned, as long as it “coincides with an American interest” it’s all good . . . . . .

      • Submitted by John Appelen on 02/11/2014 - 10:36 am.

        Your Criteria?

        Maintaining the overall “relative global calm” through deterence and getting more directly involved when American interests are at risk seems rational to me. What would be your criteria?

        It seems some folks here want to cut Defense in half, which of course would be problematic since a large portion is “mandatory”. (ie vet benefits, pensions, etc) Here is an interesting report.

        As the “mandatory” spending programs continue overwhelm the discretionary, it looks like people who want to defund the military may get their wish. It will be interesting to see what happens if we pull out of countries like S Korea, Afganistan, Taiwan, etc.

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