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Why Conservatives Turn Left (and Why They Don't)

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As we all know, many people become more conservative as they age. (Winston Churchill nailed the basic idea (wrongly!) like this: "If you’re not a liberal at 20 you have no heart, and if you’re not a conservative at 40 you have no brain.") Chewing on this conventional wisdom, Michael Tomasky got to wondering whether some people make the opposite journey: from right to left. "[I]s there no set of experiences," he asked himself "that can greet a person after youth that can persuade him or her to see the world with greater tolerance and reciprocity rather than less?" He looked into what the research has to say on the question, and found – no research. This doesn't mean right-to-left converts don't exist, writes Tomasky. Instead, he speculates, "there are facts usually hidden from view that would move at least some people to the left. Not a mass of people, but enough perhaps to make a difference every fourth November." What facts? Economic ones, about "the extent to which inequality has increased in this country, about the reduced tax burden on the rich, about the stagnation of middle-class incomes since the mid-1970s and the indecent explosion of high-end incomes over that same time." The reason these realities don't nudge more people leftward is that, having become a fixture of American life, they aren't "news"; and so "the vast majority of people still don’t know them and, because they’re not news, never will."

• 'The Big Goodbye: Why Some Abandon the Right' [Michael Tomasky/The Daily Beast]

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