A New Political Spectrum

This is a short piece following on one that Nate Silver wrote in his substack on the growing split between liberals and leftists. His article is anchored to the Israeli-Hamas conflict that grew out of the attacks of October 7. He focuses on the leftists who support the Palestinians versus the liberals who largely support Israel. Nate uses the example to model the spectrum slightly differently as a triangle with MAGA conservatives in one corner, social justice leftists in the other corner, and liberals in the bottom corner. I think this is a fair model, but I would take it one step further, as his spectrum doesn’t include space for those who are conservatives, but not of the MAGA variety. Yes, we can get really nitpicky here, but I think there needs to be a recognized distinction between those conservatives who are all aboard the Trump train (or nationalist conservatives), as opposed to those who are anti-Trump, and embrace liberal values and principles.

My spectrum would thus resemble more of a trapezoid with the bottom corner broken into two corners, but closer together so that one is right-liberals and the other corner is left-liberals. Liberals after all share some core principles in common, but emphasize different elements. Right-liberals are more conservative socially, but still recognize that rights rest inherently in individuals, just as left-liberals do. Left-liberals are much more comfortable with market regulations and redistribution of wealth, but share with right-liberals a key commitment to free markets of varying degrees. The spectrum as it has been is growing rather long in the tooth, and if differences continue to keep emerging between left-liberals and leftists, and right-liberals and MAGA conservatives, I can see the possibility of new coalitions forming within the parties. I’m sure Nate Silver would not necessarily disagree with this model as his focus was more on the cleavages occurring within the left.

Daniel Jeskey @danieljeskey