John Cassidy, staff writer for the New Yorker, has an interesting blog post regarding which way the country is shifting politically. Cassidy’s post presents some evidence that is good news for progressives, especially in regards to ending trickle down economics and creating a fairer tax system. Cassidy cites a new poll from Politico/George Washington University showing that 60 percent of Americans now back higher taxes on those earning more than $250,000 a year, and 64 percent support raising taxes on larger corporations. He goes on to state that support for higher taxes on the rich extends across the political spectrum, and even among Republicans, there is almost a 40 percent backing for a more progressive tax policy.
Cassidy also notes that support for gay marriage is at an all-time high, referencing a Gallup poll conducted in late November that showed 53 percent of Americans now support gay marriage or some form of a civil union. However, it’s important to point out that on other issues, the country is not shifting that much. Most Americans do not favor major cuts to the Pentagon budget or increased government spending to create stimulus programs.
The blog post reminds me of some comments I’ve heard from friends lately, friends so sure the country is shifting to the left because Obama won re-election and the Dems gained seats in the Senate. Some of them have even stated it will be nearly impossible for the GOP to win national elections again. However, these conversations have occurred before, and history has shown the opposing party has a way of bouncing back. After Barry Goldwater was soundly defeated in the 1960s, it was said the GOP was dead, but after a generation, they bounced back with the likes of Ronald Reagan and George Bush I. Then, after losing to Clinton twice, the GOP resurrected itself yet again in the 2000s, maintaining control of Congress and the White House for a few election cycles.
Right now, the GOP has a lot of soul searching to do, and the party is in disarray. For the party to stay relevant, it is going to have to produce a broader range of national candidates, perhaps pushing to the national stage politicians like South Carolina Gov. Nikky Haley, Florida Senator Marco Rubio, or Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal. It can no longer be the party of old white guys. The party also needs to move more to the center, especially on social issues and the tax code, because as Cassidy’s reporting points out, the country no longer favors trickle down economics, and that is indeed a huge victory for progressives and a sign that on the tax system at least, the country has indeed moved to the left.
The left, meanwhile, needs to keep the momentum and organization used throughout the election cycle, especially to pressure the president to close Gitmo, truly draw down the war in Afghanistan, and create more economic stimulus. Without maintaining organization, activism, and discipline, the Democrats could face some major losses in 2014, especially since they will have more Senate seats to defend than the GOP. For the country to truly move forward on a number of issues, the movements that got Obama elected twice have to continue.