The dynamic reinforces Nate Silverâ€™s observation after the 2012 elections: â€œif a place has sidewalks, it votes Democratic. Otherwise, it votes Republican.â€
Among those who identified as most conservative, 75 percent reported theyâ€™d prefer to live in a place whereÂ â€œthe houses are larger and farther apart, but schools, stores and restaurants are several miles away.â€ Only 22 percent said theyâ€™re prefer to live in a place whereÂ â€œthe houses are smaller and closer to each other, but schools, stores and restaurants are within walking distance.â€
The situation was reversed for the most liberal class of respondents. Among this group, 77 percent said they preferred a smaller house, closer to neighborhood amenities. Only 22 percent would opt for the larger, more isolated house, Pew found. The proportions were roughly reversed for conservatives.
Americans overall were roughly evenly split, with 49 percent saying theyâ€™re prefer the bigger, more remote house, and 48 percent saying theyâ€™d prefer the walkable community.Â Interestingly, both classes of respondents â€” conservatives and liberals â€” showed little love for the suburbs. Just 21 percent of liberals and 20 percent of conservatives said they would prefer living in the suburbs.
Among the factors that were important to liberals and conservatives in choosing a place to live, there were some consistencies and some inconsistencies. Both liberals and conservatives rated living near extended family and strong schools highly. But access toÂ museumsÂ and theaters was particularly important to consistently liberal respondents: 73 percent said these amenities were important to them, compared to just 23 percent of consistent conservatives. Liberals were also more likely than conservatives to say it was important to live in a community with a mix of people from different ethnic and racial backgrounds.
Then there is the Canadian conservative movement, which seems capable of convincing itself of any number of conflicting ideas without visible discomfort of any kind. Nowhere is this particular case of cognitive dissonance on better display than at the annual Manning Networking Conference, where the movementâ€™s core gathers every year to congratulate itself on two things: the rightness of its beliefs, and the greatness of the government of Stephen Harper.
It seems to me a health psyche requires one to choose between the two (or indeed neither). But to spend the better part of a weekend reiterating your profound faith in the policies of conservatism, all the while roaring your approval for the government that has repudiated them at every turn, would seem evidence of some sort of pathology.
Oh, there was the odd sign of unease. At a question-and-answer session with Jason Kenney and Maxime Bernier, a woman went to the microphone to ask the two ministers why their government, with the national debt now in excess of $600-billion, was still spending more than any government in our history. (Which is true. Program spending had only once exceeded $6,500 per capita, in constant 2012 dollars, in all the years before the Conservatives came to power. It has averaged nearly $6,900 over the last seven years.) The ministers gave non-committal answers, though Bernier restated his heretical belief that spending should be frozen at current levels.
But soon she was replaced at the microphone by a young man who wondered how to â€œbreak throughâ€ to those on the left who persisted in the belief that massive deficits were the appropriate response to an economic slump. The ministers nodded sympathetically. Yes, they averred, that was a problem.
There are other problems
Well, no. But it is significant that he neglected to mention â€œfree market conservatives.â€ Once upon a time these were considered central to the definition of conservatism. Perhaps this was Manningâ€™s concession to reality, for whatever else the Harper government may pretend to believe in, it does not even pretend any more to believe in the free market. The addition of $150-billion to the national debt might have been put down to the exigencies of politics, but the announcements of recent weeks â€” hundreds of millions of dollars for the auto industry, hundreds of millions more for the venture-capital sector (â€œventureâ€ apparently has acquired a different meaning lately), billions in loan guarantees to a Newfoundland hydro project, plus that wholesale plunge into 1970s-style industrial policy via defence procurement â€” all too clearly reflect this governmentâ€™s most sincere convictions.
As I have said many times before, Stephen Harper’s Conservatives aren’t conservatives. Â I am not sure what to label them but conservative is not that label.