But like many folks on the left, Rosenthal is forced to make a big leap. He contends that a shift on social issues and the electoral success of (a now-unpopular) Barack Obama proves that the entire progressive buffet is destined for widespread approval. Guess what? It doesn’t work that way. Support for gay marriage does not mean support for unions. (Unions, one of backbones of political progressivism, have never been less popular in practice.) Pot legalization does not mean we’re ready for nationalize energy policy. And support for immigration reform doesn’t mean people are prepared to “Make Everything Owned by Everybody.” And while I certainly don’t believe we’re about to privatize Social Security, to believe that the philosophy of the electorate is on a fixed leftward arc — which seems to be conventional wisdom these days — is premature.
I’d actually like to see some empirical evidence on that. I think that positions held are likely to come in clumps and, possibly, increasingly so. However, I’m prepared to believe that they don’t come in the clumps that either progressives or conservatives cling to so that people don’t fit entirely neatly into the respective camps. Note, for example, that “None of the above” is the fastest-growing political party in the U. S.