The chart above, from an Op-Ed piece in yesterday’s New York Times (here), shows where our presidential and vice-presidential candidates stand on the ideological continuum from liberal to conservative.
Recently, on the Daily Show, Jon Stewart looked at how the media creates “conventional wisdom.” Generally, it seems, the strategy is to repeat certain sentences over and over and over again, such as “Kerry and Edwards are the first and fourth most liberal members in the United States Senate.” As Stewart observes, “Talking points: they’re true…because they’re said a lot.”
The chart would seem to indicate that Kerry and Edwards aren’t quite as liberal as one might think (Edwards showing up pretty close to Lieberman, who’s about as liberal as Zell Miller). What’s even more interesting, though, is where Bush and Cheney show up on the “conservative” side of the spectrum. Both of them are far to the right of the “Senate median,” and Cheney is as far to the right, if not farther, as Ted Kennedy is to the left.
The questions I find myself asking, then, are, how did it get to be such a dirty term to be considered a liberal, but being a conservative leaves one completely unchallenged? And why is it bad to be far from the mainstream on the left, but just fine to be as far if not farther from the mainstream on the right?
(graphic: Paul Sahre for the New York Times)