Pew’s identified group of Liberals (19% of the population) are outliers on many issues.
In every one of the identified groups there are people on both sides of the major political questions of the day – abortion, affirmative action, diplomacy vs. military intervention, health care, and a half-dozen others. But the percentages are wildly different among the liberals. Government health insurance: liberals 90%, more even than the other Democrats at 68% (Rest of the country 60%); lowering military spending – 65%, more than other Democrats at 35%. (All non-liberals 30%); posting the Ten Commandments in government buildings, 35%, rest of the country 80%; Gay marriage 80%, rest of the country 28%.
The most likely groups to join them at a pole are the Disadvantaged Democrats, especially on economic issues, or the Bystanders, the uninvolved, on social issues. The Enterprisers are the only other group which ever occupies a pole alone, on issues such as raising the minimum wage, Enterprisers 46%, rest of the country 90%; Tax cuts permanent 82%, rest of the country 35%. The Enterprisers and the liberals are usually opposites on economic and military issues. They are much less dissimilar on issues such as immigration and stem-cell research.
I’m not setting any of this forth as an argument whether they are right or wrong on those issues. I simply note that on cultural issues the Liberals are isolated and more extreme in their views than the rest of us, while the Enterprisers are less extreme, but noticeably different from other Americans on some economic issues.
This all began, for those of you just tuning in, when I began to speculate about the nature of what I called the Arts & Humanities tribe in America (and Europe). I noted that it was politically liberal and behaved very tribally. By this I meant that it protected its own at the expense of the whole - as all tribes do somewhat – that it had trust cues which created both identification and social pressure, and that it seemed to have changed over the years. I grew up in this tribe, and at least in my own generation and the one just prior, could recognize the verbal cues. I was intensely aware at one point of my life of the cultural enforcement the tribe uses to keep people from defecting. It now merely amuses and annoys to observe it.
If there were one identifiable tribe in America, why not more? I sketched out some other possibilities and tried to steer readers to reading I thought germane to the topic. I have sought comments and received some excellent ones.
I am not convinced that my proposed divisions will hold up well. They have some value, but they don’t break down into the neat categories I would like. If they did, I’d have a moderately popular $16.95 paperback on my hands. I am still convinced of the connection between my A&H Tribe and the Pew Liberal group, and of my Science & Technology and Business Tribes with The Pew Enterprisers and Upbeats. I am engaging in a temporary consolidation then, examining what I think I know from here. To keep the posts short enough for the occasional reader, I will divide the essays and launch them at intervals.