why are so many dopers liberal?

I do enjoy looking through the message boards here, but I sometimes find myself wondering what is the reason behind the majority of posters here being toward the liberal side of the political spectrum. Surely there must be a reason that (I’d estimate) around 75% of the posters who make a distinction known seem to be quite left of center. (Or am I way off in my estimate?) Is it because conservatives are more, well, conservative and less likely to let their preferences be known? Is it some cultural or social reason?

I’m not complaining or anything; I’m just curious. Why the great majority? Is there a conservative version of these message boards somewhere?

And no conservative-bashing! I’m looking for a real answer, not anything jokey.

Maybe it’s because you don’t agree with the liberals and so they are more obvious to you? Whereas someone you agree with isn’t likely ping on your radar as loudly…

FWIW, it seems fairly well across the spectrum to me.

I think you’re off your estimate. There are quite a few of us fairly “conservative” posters here. We just post a lot and don’t necessarily take advantage of every opportunity to slam the other side. So you’re not as aware of us.

Well, this board is associated with The Straight Dope, which appears in a number of alternative newspapers, the vast majority of which tend be liberal in their editorial outlook.

I would assume that many posters here came here through the column and its website, so the population here is a bit self-selecting.

“Alternative” hardly means “liberal.”

Maybe I didn’t phrase it properly – the “vast majority” I referred to is of the papers carrying Cecil, not necessarily alternative papers as a whole (although, in my experience, most of them are liberal).

Hmmm. Some interesting theories so far. I suppose it could be that I just notice the liberals more, but I really think that they have the numbers too. I know there are other conseratives here, but it seems to me that they are the minority.

There’s also the fact that the medium we’re using is the Internet.

I’ve seen polls that show a correlation between liberal views and computer literacy, and especially between libertarian views and computer literacy. (I know, liberal and libertarian are not the same, that’s why I’ve broken them out.) So it may be that the medium attracts more people of liberal views.

And sorry, before you ask for cites, it was in some newspaper articles I read some time ago.

I’m an ultra right-wing Christian. I keep quiet because I don’t like getting yelled at. Rarely will anyone change their minds, so why set yourself up?


Offhand I’d venture there’s a limited cross section represented here, with appropriate caveats, of course. (Pure access is a bench mark right there, y’know? What voices AREN’T being heard–and why not? And how to handle that? And does one believes that even matters in the first place?)

I just question the queasy and sliding limits among labels.
“Conservative/liberal”–how? In my experience, the labels obscure more than than they identify when it comes to actual intent. There are HUGE gray areas for common agreement, no matter the particular spin. Oft times the differences are more perceived than real.

IMO it would be a happy, happy day when conservatives AND liberals reclaim principled duty, flowing both ways. (And government has NO role or interest in religious beliefs, bedroom activities, etc.) In the final analysis, I’m convinced both “ends” are striving for the same goals. And both “ends” are equally sidetracked–and disgraced–by extremists.

The point is thrashing out common ground, no matter how it’s reached.


Er, aren’t liberalism and libertarianism at the total opposite ends of the spectrum? I mean, we have “We, the enlightened ruling class, will use the government to dictate how to live your life” vs" the government should stay the hell out of everyone’s business."

I always thought libertarians were far closer to conservatives than liberals.

But Libertarians would tend to leave social issues like abortion, prostitution, drug use up to the individual, which conservatives reject, so you can’t place them in that camp either.


Nope, but that is a commonly held misconception.

So completely that they do not print any money and do not enforce any laws? That would be anarchy. I support that, but I think your typical libertarian probably would not. Most libertarians I’ve spoken to believe in the right to accumulate private property, and their greatly reduced government is tacitly assumed to continue arresting thieves and creating & maintaining a currency.

As for the liberals, although you’ve got some of the worst tendencies of their worst abuses pegged, but you’re nowhere close to a description of their perspectives or their motivations. Certainly they do not posit a ruling class (enlightened or otherwise) even if some of their career bureaucrats tend to constitute one and behave like one. If you want everyone to have a chance to accomplish things and earn money and participate, and you observe that this is not the case because opportunities are not equal and some disadvantages are prohibitively crippling, you conclude that we need some rules that we all must follow. In much the same spirit that we say that stealing money in order to get it is not fair, we can say that keeping someone from getting an equal education because of their skin color or their sex is not fair either.

Personally, I think the unimpeded processes of the market economy are inherently inclined to create and maintain unfair inequities, and I think the liberal agenda is one of trying to patch and counteract and intervene, and the result tends to be as klunky and awkward as a steam-powered automotive refrigerator. And the Marxists are just more of the same, with more centralized and potentially oppressive personnel implementing the patches and interventions.

You want fair, quit trying to fix the market economy and replace it instead.

Libertarians themselves often favor a two-axis “four quadrants” model over the one-axis “political spectrum” model. According to this model, libertarians and liberals (or “left-liberals”) are on adjacent quadrants; libertarians border “right-conservatives” on their other border. Libertarians and left-liberals agree about censorship of pornography or abortion rights; libertarians and right-conservatives agree about economic regulations or gun control. Left-liberals and right-conservatives would be diametrically opposed; libertarians would be diametrically opposed to “authoritarians”; this would include a Soviet model (free enterprise capitalism and pornography or homosexuality got you sent to the gulag), but it could also include some members of what is loosely described as the “right” in the U.S. who favor both “traditional values” conservatism (government action against pornography or abortion) and, say, protectionist economic policies. (Possibly a less inflammatory term for the “authoritarian” quadrant would be something like “populist”–think “Reagan Democrats” here, strong on defense, anti-abortion, pro-traditional family values, but also pro-union, and distrustful of unfettered capitalism when it comes to things like protectionism against foreign imports, and probably not inclined to scrap Medicare or the G.I. Bill.)

The usual term for the opposite of libertarian is statist, that is, in favor of the state having more power.

Maybe, and this is JUST a maybe, it’s because most people ARE liberal (at least until it comes to election time).

Well, at least that seems to be true where I live (but then I live in a pretty cool city). Around here, the rednecks keep their opinions to themselves (except on talk-back radio and in the tabloid press).
They’re in the minority…
(Am I being naive here??)

“Most people are liberal”? No way. Most people at this message board, sure. But most people in society? Can’t be.

In Kambuckta’s post, “liberal” equals “cool,” while conservatives are “rednecks.” It’s subtle, and maybe not even intentional, but it’s conservative-bashing. To me, this seems the prevailing attitude here. Again, I still immensely enjoy reading threads here, but I think jsleek had it right. I’ve felt the occasional (not always!) hostility toward those “redneck” conservatives here. I don’t see as many instances of liberals being called freaks or whatever. (I’m sure these instances are there, but as Zyada said, maybe it doesn’t “ping the radar” as much.)

Liberals, IMHO, are more likely than conservatives to self-identify as intellectuals. I reserve comment on the accuracy of those assessments. :wink:

The SDMB is a hangout for self-appointed intellectuals.

Ipso facto. I think. At least I know it’s Latin (or maybe Greek?), and is used in situations similar to this, so I’m guessing it’s appropriate here given my level of certainty about the answer.

See what I mean about “self-appointed”? There are no competency tests around here to expose our individual ignorances, but if we babble on long enough it becomes apparent anyway.

Being conservative myself, I am of course biased (aren’t we all?) but it has always seemed to me that, in general, liberals are “noisier” about proclaiming their political affiliations; they’re more likely to mention their party for the sake of mentioning it, rather than mentioning it in conjunction with talking about a specific political issue. There’s nothing wrong with being proud of your beliefs, though, right?

Slight hijack:
Just curious here, but whichever side you are on now, is it the same side as your parents when you grew up, or the opposite?

My parents were conservative when I was growing up, although they started migrating more to the left upon retirement.
I would have to say I’m a liberal (perhaps slowly migrating to the middle.)

Is it a generational thing?
I know people with ex-hippie parents who are now staunch conservatives.

Is it that those of us from the 60’s grew up with JFK, MLK, the Beatles and Dylan, while those who came through the 80’s had Reagan, Bush and disco?

Where are dopers on the spectrum compared to their parents?