No One Should Be Surprised That Social Conservatism Is On The Rise

Photo by John Moore/Getty Images

Gage Klipper Commentary & Analysis Writer
Font Size:

Liberals love to claim they are on the “right side of history.” They talk about history as if it inevitably goes one direction: toward a progressive utopia.

This article of faith is the crux of the liberal worldview. But “history” and the social values it is said to produce are not pre-determined. Insisting otherwise tends to alienate many normal people, as a recent Gallup poll seems to suggest.

The poll found that the percentage of people describing their social views as “conservative” or “very conservative” reached its highest point in over a decade. It increased from 33 percent last year to 38 percent in 2023. A five point bump is notable because the social conservatism figure has remained relatively stable since 2012, the last time it stood at 38 percent, and it also tends to shift in smaller increments.

Republicans experienced a 7 point increase over the past year, Independents saw a 3 point bump, and even Democrats gained a point. Social conservatism increased 6 percent among young people aged 18-29, while Millennials and Generation X (30-49) saw the largest increase at 13 percent.

The new trend towards social conservatism comes at a time when social issues are increasingly top of mind. As the poll points out, “transgender matters, abortion, crime, drug use and the teaching of gender and sexuality in schools” are all hotly debated topics taking up an outsized portion of daily headlines. The radical positions Democrats have adopted on these issues represent the ideal in progressives’ dream society.

Former President Barack Obama is arguably most responsible for injecting the hyper-focus on social progressivism into the public consciousness. In 2012, his “coalition of the ascendant” re-election strategy sought to lump together “oppressed” minorities and young white progressives into an unbeatable political coalition. Social issues were used to unite and mobilize these demographics, getting them to turn out at the polls despite being among the least likely groups to vote, according to the Center for American Progress, a progressive think tank.

Since 2012, Democrats and their media allies have aggressively pushed all of these issues into the public spotlight, despite their policy preferences often being wildly out of touch with the public sentiment. (RELATED: Speakers At Little-Noticed Biden Admin Webinar Urged Teachers To Avoid Using ‘Girl’ And ‘Boy’ To Refer To Students)

Transgender issues, we are told, are the “next civil rights frontier” akin to the original civil rights movement to end racial discrimination that succeeded in the 1960s. The left tells us small children must learn about transgender issues from an early age in order to defeat “transphobia” wherever the left finds it. Yet according to a PRRI poll, 65 percent of Americans believe gender is binary and less than 10 percent feel it’s acceptable to teach about gender identity in grade school.

On abortion, Democrats have retreated from the 1990s “legal, safe and rare” position, instead embracing abortion as good under all circumstances. “Shout your abortion,” they proclaim, despite most Americans holding moderate views on abortion and preferring restrictions after the first trimester, according to an AP-NORC poll.

The left believes violent criminals are the real victims of an unjust society; crime victims are mere statistics who must be ignored on the path to utopia. Drug use and homelessness are a human right that government has a duty to facilitate, rather than a problem to protect the law-abiding public from, the left wants us to believe. Yet Americans say they are more worried about crime than any other time this century.

In addition to being unpopular, all of the left’s positions are a wild affront to common sense. It is impossible to come to these conclusions without years of steeping in academic abstractions or relentlessly devouring media propaganda. For example, an IPSO study found that media coverage of trans issues increased 400 percent between 2009 and 2019, ensuring Americans are fed a constant diet of “trans visibility” by activists in the press.

Americans are no longer allowed to simply tolerate progressive ideals that seek to supplant established norms. Rather, they must actively celebrate these developments as morally good, or else they are on the “wrong side of history,” a disparagement often used by President Obama. (RELATED: Obama, Biden Lunch At White House After Mysterious Phone Call)

After a decade, the Gallup poll now seems to suggest that progressive elites have pushed too far. The resistance to authority is a fundamental aspect of being human, especially among Americans who possess an inextinguishable streak of individualism. We do not like being told what we must do or how we must think. We tackle obstacles that seem insurmountable and challenge principles that appear beyond reproach.

Challenging authority has long been baked into our national DNA. It is the spirit that led the American Revolution and fulfilled manifest destiny. It built the railroads, skyscrapers, and the most powerful economy the world has ever seen. Yet it is also what stoked the countercultural revolution of the 1960s. 

The boomer generation was averse to the moral and political authority of their parents’ generation. In some sense, they had a moral leg to stand on — they demanded a more equal society that previous generations failed to achieve. However, they also wanted greater personal autonomy and sexual freedom to release themselves from strong familial, community, and religious obligations. Boomers drastically re-imagined what constituted the “good life” along these lines and embraced personal freedom.

What was once the counterculture has become the new authority, prescribing itself the natural course of history and turning socially conservative values into a marginalized counterculture. This year, it appears Americans are finally starting to realize they’ve had enough. The course of “history” is once again up for debate.