US public, tilting right, sees Reagan 'playing our song'
The conservative wind is blowing hard -- inward from all around the United States and outward from here in Washington. Reporters and pollsters alike are finding there is a decided majority among Americans who now advocate a shift away from big government and toward individualism. It also wants the US to take a stiff anti-Communist line.
The new administration, led by President Reagan himself, is playing that same tune -- to Congress and to the voters.
President Reagan fully orchestrated this issue with his comments to the Conservative Political Action Conference over the weekend when he attacked the Soviet philosophy, saying that "the Marxist vision of man without God must eventually be seen as an empty and false faith."
Monitor checks with political leaders, both here and across the nation, indicate there is no decline in the conservative mood of the nation evident in the last election.
Furthermore, these findings show that there is a widespread feeling that the governmental approaches of the past generation, brought into effect by Franking D. Roosevelt and the New Deal, must give way to something new.
Even many liberals are joining with the conservatives in refusing to fight the battle for New Deal-type programs -- thus tacitly helping the conservative cause by not putting up much resistance.
Democrats in Congress are, indeed, putting up an alternative economic program. But it is not in confrontation with the basic thesis in the Reagan economic spending-cuts package -- that big government must be reduced.
Instead, for the most part Democrats are merely challenging the President -- and not very hard -- on the specifics of where these spending reductions should be made.
Actually, Senate Democrats appear to have almost given up on any attempt to roll back or substantially change the Reagan econmic spending-cut proposals. Instead, they appear to be saying that it now is up to the Democratic majority in the House to make that fight.
But even in the House, where on the surface it would appear that Democrats could prevail in saving the present social programs, there seems little will to fight that fight.
Indeed, Democratic leaders in the House concede that they are listening to the folks back home these days and not to the liberal drums to which they have marched since the early 1930s.
Monitor findings further indicate:
* More and more Americans today are willing to identify themselves as "conservatives."
For years, pollsters have found that many people who expressed conservative ideology shunned the conservative label, often saying they were "in the middle of the road" or "moderates."
Now the social stigma connected with conservatism seems to have disappeared --and those who support this ideology display the conservative name with pride.
* Conversely, the "liberal" label appears to be losing its popularity. In academic circles, some professors and students now say they are uncomfortable with the "liberal" description. They won't accept the conservative label; but they often talk about the need for cutting back on government spending and call theirs a "new liberalism" which contains this conservative, spending-reductions element.
* Conservative causes and organizations are readily raising funds while many liberal-oriented groups are struggling to persuade people to help them with monetary contributions.
In fact, the Democratic Party -- at national, state, and local levels -- is suffering financially from a public perception that it is leaning too much in the direction of the New Deal philosophy.
* The new politicians, both Democrats and Republicans, are for the most part adopting a conservative or near-conservative line. They obviously have concluded that this is the philosphy that voters want to see expressed today by officeholders.