Here is an especially self indulgent post. I think the useful part is this link to a Data For Progress poll showing current US public opinion is way to the left of the inside the beltway Overton Window. Most US adults support proposals which are seen as fringe left in official Washington. The presentation is verbose. A good write up by Eric Levitz is here
This is interesting and raises the question of how a Congress which totally disagrees with a majority of the electorate got elected. I think the reason is that most voters don’t know the facts — that is don’t know what current policy is.
OK self indulgence after the jump
I was talking to myself. I do this often. I had an imagined dialogue with a Republican who claims that Democrats favor open borders. If I met a Republican, I would note that this is not true of any Democrat who matters. I don’t know if any elected Democrat supports open borders, but I am sure that, if they are any, they are elected to say the Berkeley City council. The proposal to open borders is not on the agenda.
However, the qualifier “who matters” is necessary. I can’t deny that I am a Democrat because I am an officially registered Democrat. I support open borders. My view is that people should be allowed to move to live where they want and become citizens of a country if they live in it for 5 years. This is my view, because I believe all people are created equal and have the same rights. I therefore oppose hereditary privileges such as birthright citizenship.
Don’t worry. I really don’t matter. I have no influence.
I then tried to think of other extreme opinions which I have. Here as always, I define extreme as at the extreme of public opinion, and I rely on polls.
1. Foreign Aid. A solid majority wants to cut US foreign aid spending. I want it to be increased tenfold. But oddly I agree with the median voter on what share of the US Federal budget should go to foreign aid. When asked the median answer is about 5%. That is roughly what I propose, because foreign aid is currently about two thirds of one percent of the budget. My extreme opinion is the opinion that foreign aid is currently about two thirds of one percent of the budget. When people are polled on that question, the median answer was much higher. So in a Kaiser Foundation poll the median guess of the current level was 26%. My answer 0-1% puts me in the fringe extreme 5%.
So extreme opinion 1, foreign aid is less than 1% of the US Federal Budget.
2. I recall a poll where only a minority reported believing that there was no conspiracy to Kill John Kennedy and that Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone. I see opinion has shifted, but in 1992, I was a member of the small fringe minority who were no-conspiracy theorists.
3. Welfare. I think the word refers to TANF which is an even tinier share of the US Federal budget. I believe much more goes to the working poor through the EITC. I believe that programs which give cash to the able bodied no working poor are dwarfed payments for Social Security disability benefits. I believe most of SNAP (food stamps) spending goes to the working poor, the elderly, and the disabled. I think cash assistance to the non working able bodied poor is a tiny part of US government budgets especially the Federal Budget.
The point is that most of my extreme opinions are opinions on matters of fact. (the open borders advocacy is definitely an exception). When asked the median poll respondent supports policies far to the left of the DC Overton window. For example a solid majority thinks that workers should elect some members of the board of directors of corporations (as they do in Germany which somehow manages to export a huge amount even though workers’ total compensation is immense and they work very few hours a year).