Visualizing the shift in the American Political Spectrum

XKCD posted a wonderful map of American Political History. Here is just an excerpt of the FULL MAP, for the US Senate:

The placement on left or right is by party offiliation. The color-coding (shades of blue or red) is by voting record and position on legislation issues.

What this shows is that the “shift to the right” of the US Senate is a lot more nuanced than the press explains. From 2000 to 2012, Democrats (Left-Leaning Parties) had the same number of Far-Left people in office, but many Lefts were replaced by “center-left” candidates, particularly in 2006 and 2008 at the end of Bush’s administration.

Conservatives over this time period had far fewer center-right members, and a doubling of Far Right members in the senate. These Far-Right influxes happened in 2002 (post-9-11) and 2010 (post-Obama).

In the lower house of congress (House of Representatives for you international people), the political spectrum has swung simultaneously to the center-left and to the far-right. What has disappeared are Moderate Republicans.  This is a far more significant shift than any other trend, and yet the media has failed to notice nor explain nor report on this. When you have a consistent analysis method, the data are more likely to lead you to surprising conclusions. Here, the absence of the bright-red-scarlet shade of “Center Right” Republicans are entirely absent after 2008.

Implication: Obama got elected the year that no one in the Republican Party was even remotely interested in two-party governance.

At the same time, Democrats added two Center Right members in 2008 and doubled the size of their Center Left voting block. So many of those votes where not a single Republican supported a bill, there were actually fewer center-left and center-right members of congress voting on either side as there were under Reagan. With only 7% of the House in the 1980s being from the Far Right, national dialogue also reflected a broader spectrum of solutions :

Reagan House of Representatives had many more moderates

What is harder to see but significant is that since 2010, both parties have fewer centrists than at any time in history of the House of Representatives. About 35 Democrats and ZERO Republicans are centrists, for a total of 8%. In contrast, 47% of congress are radicals: 40 Far-Left and 165 Far-Right members.

These are the facts, and they explain a lot more than any of the media’s 24/7 inane marathon of lazy analysis.

Implications: If you want functioning government where two parties are capable of compromise, we must support and elect a lot more center-left and center-right members of both parties. Therefore, the most important information to seek out before November 6th is not the candidate’s party, but where they fall on this spectrum, and whether they are capable of NOT voting purely along party lines.

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