The Corner

Michael Lind

has advice for the Democrats (via Instapundit): They need to stop being a socially liberal policy with economically liberal and economically conservative wings, and return to being an economically liberal party with socially liberal and socially conservative wings. Lind’s argument is being criticized in various places, but not, in the main, persuasively. Some of the critics slightly misdescribe Lind’s view–he didn’t say that the Democrats should become a socially conservative party, exactly. But that’s the least of it.

Some of the critics assume that there are many socially liberal voters who supported Bush because of the war on terrorism. This is true. But what matters are the net figures: Do socially liberal positions attract more voters than they repel? And here the views of commentators are likely to be skewed because they are more likely than the public at large to be socially liberal and economically conservative. In general it remains true that national-security and social issues tend to favor the Republicans, and economic issues the Democrats. This is true even if on some issues majorities of the public take socially liberal (or economically conservative, or dovish) positions.

The critics may, however, have a point when they say that Lind’s advice is impractical because the Democrats cannot cease to be the socially liberal party. But if Lind’s analysis of the electorate is right–and, again, I don’t think that the critics have scored a point against it–then their inability to shed this electoral liability should be a cause for gloom among Democrats.

Ramesh Ponnuru — Ramesh Ponnuru is a senior editor for National Review, a columnist for Bloomberg Opinion, a visiting fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, and a senior fellow at the National Review Institute.

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