Brad Wardell's views about technology, politics, religion, world affairs, and all sorts of politically incorrect topics.
Conservatives, Liberals, RadCons, and now RadLibs
Published on July 28, 2004 By Draginol In Democrat

Robert Reich has a new book that talks about the principles of liberalism, conserativism, and adds a new category "radcons". It's an interesting, if self-serving, look at things.  I say self-serving because he seems to imagine that the Democratic party is being run by the warm fuzzy liberals he describes.  But is that the case? Perhaps he should add one more category -- Radlib. Because apparently, in Reich's mind, based on his book and interviews, the radicals are all on the right.  Reich is fairly far-left.  Don't get me wrong, I like the guy.  When I see him debate the "RadCon" Sean Hannity I cringe because Reich comes across as very reasonable while Hannity seems to want to lump all liberals as tree hugging nuts. But I do suspect he is much further to the left than  he believes.  How can you tell? I use the "Bill O'Reilly" litmus test.  If you're describing O'Reilly as a radical conservative, you're probably pretty far left. Far left people tend to view those with any non-liberal views as conservatives just as far right-wingers tend to view anyone who believes in any liberal views as a liberal.

Let's look at the principles:

Issue RadCons Conservatives Liberals Radlibs
Religion Religious values should be imposed on society for its own good. Fuzzier line between church and state. Let local communities decide. Church & State should be kept separate but should be respected. Religion has no place in public life. Morality is subjective.
Economics Concentrated wealth in private sector benefits society. Slightly regulated economy strikes good balance. Heavily regulated economy strikes good balance. Concentrated wealth in public sector benefits society.
Foreign Policy Utilitarian view - work with existing institutions if they obey US wishes or work unilaterally if they don't. Prefers to work alone to avoid complexity of messy allies. Work to build international law and institutions to create a stable world of individual nation states. Act alone as last resort. Very strong international institutions and laws. International law supersedes US law when "necessary" (Kyoto, ICC, etc.). Act alone only as the very very last resort. Work to build a single world government where the US is just one state amongst many.
Society Government has no business providing "welfare". Self-reliance is the key to prosperity for citizens. Government should provide a basic safety net of temporary assistance to those down on their luck. Health care should be provided by private sector. Government should provide social insurance to help those down on their luck and basic health care to all citizens. Government should dramatically re-distribute wealth to ensure equality amongst citizens.
Trade Trade should only be done where it's to the benefit of US industry. (No free trade with China for example). Free trade amongst nations playing by the same trade rules. Less concern with how products are manufactured. Regulated trade amongst nations that adhere to the same internal regulations US companies have to abide by. Trade should only be done where it's to the benefit of US workers. (No free trade with China for example).

I added Trade since I felt that one needed to be broken out on its own.

The problem with Reich's principles is that he seems to want to pretend that the Rablibs a) don't exist and don't have significant influence.  I can't blame him for wanting to do that since it defeats his central thesis -- that most Americans are liberals and therefore the Democrats should win elections.  Democrats have both camps in there, fighting it out. Nader has managed to draw some of the Radlibs away but most have remained as part of the Democratic camp this time because of their loathing of Bush.

I'm described as "right of center" and yet I'm liberal on 2 of the 5 issues stated above (Religion and Trade).  So if a "conservative" like me is liberal on nearly half the issues, then it's reasonable to assume that most Americans are to the left of me and therefore make up the majority. But it's not that simple. The views of the Radlibs are such an anathema to most Americans that given the choice between a candidate that is mostly conservative and one that has a view Radlib views, they'll choose the conservative even if he's to the right of them on some of the issues.

Now, let's look at 3 groups: Bush, Kerry, and Independent voters.

Bush: Religion (RadCon), Economics (RadCon), Foreign Policy (RadCon), Society (Conservative), Trade (Conservative).

Kerry: Religion (RadLib), Economics (RadLib), Foreign Policy (Liberal), Society (RadLib), Trade (Liberal). Based on his voting record/statements.

Independent Voter:  Pretty much on every issue they are just slightly between the conservative and liberal view.  For example, most Americans support affordable prescription drug care.  But the liberals want to provide universal health care which is not supported by any distinct majority.  They don't want religious views being shoved down their throats but on the other hand don't object to having "Under God" in the pledge of allegiance.  And while they prefer to have the UN's approval, want other countries to like us, at the end of the day, would prefer the US act alone than to get clobbered. It's the RadLibs that see America as the greatest threat to the world. Does Reich believe that most Americans share that opinion?

In this election, the problem is that neither Bush nor Kerry represent the views of most Americans.  Bush is considerably further to the right than most Americans and Kerry is quite a bit left of where most Americans see themselves. It will be interesting to see where the cards fall.

As for Reich's thesis, me thinks he's spending too much time debating Radcons and hanging out with Liberals.  Most Americans are neither liberal nor conservative, they fall into that gray area in between. And what has made the Republicans so successful is that the RadLibs have become the most vocal part of the Democratic party in the past 25 years and the more moderate Democrats (liberals) have done nothing to distance themselves from it. 

When a Jerry Falwell says something nuts, the conservatives openly condemn him.  When Trent Lott says something insensitive, conservatives sack him.  But when a Michael Moore trashes America, the liberals applaud him.  When former Klansman, Robert Byrd says something outrageous in congress, the liberals salute him.  And for that reason, the Republicans have managed to become the majority party.  Because while the majority of Americans may have very centrist views, the Democrats have embraced the worst of the RadLibs while Republicans have managed to show more ethical spine in dealing with their more "radical" members.

Comments (Page 2)
on Aug 02, 2004

Very interesting. Don't know if it is all true but it is all interesting.
on Aug 03, 2004
I seem to be pretty conservative or radically conservative on all of these issues.