The Birth of the Left-Wing Wedge Issue

Written by scott on May 31st, 2015

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Here’s a little datum that may have slid by you: Gallup has just found that on social issues, the country is now equally split between liberals and conservatives. The question was: “Thinking about social issues, would you say your views are” very conservative, conservative, liberal, or very liberal?

And the answer came back: Grouping the first two into one category and the last two into another, it was a dead heat at 31 percent each. This is pretty close to seismic. Just five years ago, the conservative edge on social issues was 39 to 22 percent. Now it’s totally wiped out. The implications for our electoral politics are obvious and enormous, and I mean good-enormous.

I’m not sure when people started using the phrase “wedge issue.” But we’re all sure what wedge issues are: They’re cultural politics issues used in elections by the right–and always only the right–to drive a wedge into the liberal coalition. Nixon did it expertly, even though the phrase wasn’t in use back then. Reagan did it well, cleaving so many working-class white ethnics away from the Democratic Party. George H.W. Bush and Jim Baker did it–remember Willie Horton (race was the original wedge issue). And Bush the younger and Karl Rove expanded it out to include guns and gays.

Authored By Michael Tomasky – See the Full Story at The Daily Beast

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