Reader John Winkler has sent a link to a rather disheartening report from the Gallup organization. According to a poll they took Feb 7-10:
Thirty-one percent of Americans believe building democracy in other countries should be a very important foreign policy goal. Conservatives (45%) are much more likely to believe this than moderates (25%) or liberals (19%).
Of course, as with all polls, the question-framing is open to, um, question but…wow! Back when I defined myself as a liberal or a lefty one of our policy keystones was the overthrow of dictators like Pinochet. The Fall of the Berlin Wall was a milestone and a cause for rejoicing. Apparently, things have changed radically. Also, “liberals” who once seemed to have a determinedly international outlook, now seem, in many cases, almost born-again Babbits. This is evidence that people’s politics, like beauty, is only skin deep (a scary thought, actually). Many people have no real politics at all other than social “self-description.” They hypnotize themselves into sets of beliefs they feel are in keeping with club or team membership. Then the franchise moves to another city and they switch beliefs to keep their rooting status.
And I don’t think self-described conservatives have anything to be smug about in all this. All sides are ever open to this kind of emotionally stunted behavior. My suspicion of labels of all sorts is not abating. I’m still with Chairman Deng Tsaio Peng (here it comes again): “I don’t care if a cat is black or white as long as it catches mice!”
UPDATE: For the heart-warming story of a man building democracy go here. (ht: Catherine)