Here's my case: I was a Leftie from the 1960's until the Fall of the Wall; (my gradual drift to the center actually began from McGovern's massive defeat - which led me to believe that, (since the lesser of two evils is almost always a good choice), Democrats had to nominate more moderate politicians than McGovern to get, hold, and use power effectively. After the Fall of the Wall and the collapse of OSLO, I looked back and had to admit that Reagan and Thatcher (and Netanyahu and Sharon) had been right all along. I don't feel as if admitting that Reagan was right makes me suddenly "un-educated" - it makes me intellectually honest, and more commited to results than ideology.
Undeniably, in the USA there IS a great Left versus Right divide. The two things which are the BEST predictors of which side of the divide one is on are not sociological; they are better described as philosophical or metaphysical or ideological. They are: (1) how one feels about universalism versus relativism in the moral realm; and (2) how ones feels about individualism versus statism.
Those on the Left are relativists who believe in a strong state, and believe that individuals are defined by which groups they belong to. Those on the Right are universalists who believe that each person is sovereign over himself, and that the State derives its just powers ONLY from the consent of individuals. (This is why Leftists call Right-wingers "selfish.")
Hayek argued - and Thatcher and Reagan (and Teng Xiao Ping in China and Singh in India) proved - that Statism is the "road the serfdom," and that the Free Market is not only the most moral system, but the most efficient, creative and productive one, too.
Eventually, Leftists will be forced to admit this is as true in pension/retirement and health markets as it is in every other market. When that happens their jig is up. (Already sensing that their jig will be up soon, many of the Leftists are already fighting tooth and nail - deperately staving off having to admit they were wrong about everything either by using vicious attacks - as in "Bush is Hitler" or "BUSH LIED!"- or by just putting their head in the sand and denying reality - as when they deny that captialism saved China or that toppling Iraq is causing a klatogenetic explosion of democracy in the Middle East - just as the neocons said it could).
The demographic arguments - that Brooks and Lebedoff and Hindera make - are hollow compared to the ideological battle between what has failed (Leftist policies) and what is working (Rightist policies)!
That more Leftists live in cities - (Blue America is largely urban) - is partly a vestige of Democratic coalition politics and the welfare state - and partly a result of the fact that for too long the GOP never battled for voters in those hardcore Leftist urban centers. As the GOP continues to broaden its appeal to Hispanics and Blacks and Jews - (traditional city-dwellers and, generationally, core members of the Democratic coalition) - this will change.
Also: now that the "McGovern Wing" of the party has once again reasserted control of the party apparatus - (making the more centrist Clinton era seem more like an aberration when copmpared to the post-LBJ party) - they will drive out many of the remaining centrists - either to the GOP or or to official independence. And as a result, the sociological indicators will change - and be less predictive than they seem now.
In addition, as people like David Horowitz (with the unintended help of "Ward Churchillians") wrestle away the control of the Academy from the Leftists, fewer of our youngsters will be brain-washed into Leftist, anti-West, anti-traditional family, anti-American, morally relativist ideologies, (a Leftist program that - up until now - has been in full swing since the 1960's and the advent of "the counter-culture").
And as the Bush Doctrine is vindicated, more Leftists will be forced either to admit they were wrong - or condemn themselves to inane insignificance - the Loony Left.
When all this happens - (when the old Democratic coaliton splinters; when the Leftist Dems drive the rest of the Centrist Dems out of the party; when the Academy is liberated from Leftist control; and when the Middle East is more fully democratized) - the Left will simply fade away, vanish with a whimper - leaving an embarrassing question to posterity: "how could ANYONE have EVER really bought that Leftist CRAP anyhow!"
THIS NEEDS REITERATING: One of the major reasons many educated people "bought that crap" and became are Leftists is that they were BRAINWASHED BY THE LEFTIST ACADEMY. This is NOT hyperbole; it is fact. Here is an example: the "political spectrum" that we were all taught in the Academy places Communism on the Left and Fascism on the Right. BUT THIS IS FALSE. Need proof!? Where do you put ANARCHISM in that spectrum!? NO WHERE!
The TRUE poltical spectrum places communism and fascism on the extreme Left, and anarchism on the extreme Right, and mixed systems in the middle; (the USA system goes just Right of center and the Scandinaviam system goes just Left of center). Not only is this LOGICAL (first, because there is a proper place for anarchism, and second because it allows for a simple continuum of rights from MOST STATIST on the Left, to MOST INDIVIDUALIST/LIBERTARIAN on the Right), but it is HISTORICALLY ACCURATE: Mussolini and Hitler were BOTH SOCIALISTS - as were LENIN AND STALIN. Hilter was a National Socialist (= NAZI) who was ANTI-MARXIST; Mussolini was also a national socialist; the Russians were Marxists. They each had more in common with each other than with FDR or Churchill OR EVEN CHAMBERLAIN! Stalin and Trotsky and Hitler were all socialists - who hated each other as much as they LOVED the state and sought to get inidividuals to subordinate their personal liberty to the will of the state (as determined by an elite).
What does this have to do with BRAIN-WASHING!?!?!? EVERYTHING! The false spectrum was created by the Leftist Academy to make Marxism seem more like the IDEOLOGICAL OPPOSITE and enemy of Hitler and to have more in common with FDR than it did with Hitler - which is COMPLETELY FALSE.
There is another major LIE being foisted on to the students in the academy: that Gorbachev was more responsible for the Fall of the Wall than Reagan. And the reason for this lie is the same as the reason for thie other lie: to protect their FAILED Leftist ideology from utter disrepute.
Fortunately, the truth will win. As will markets that function. And, as will the universal human desire for liberty. Therefore, the Right will win, too.
ENDNOTE: because of the tenure-system, the Academy has become a closed system without the checks-and-balances necessary to prevent it (or any other system) from being taken over one group - and those who "play ball" with that group. This happens in ALL closed systems and is the basic reason why all system need checks-and-balances. Lack of checks-and-balances is also why the Catholic priesthood in America is such a mess. Opening up the Academy to Conservatives and the Catholic priesthood to married men will not only bring each system a balance of perspectives, but a natural and much needed check-and-balance.
ADDENDUM: There's another simple reason why I know that a sociological explanation isn't the best: it's too Marxist; it seeks to explain how individuals think by putting them into heuristic groups - managerial; urban; black; religious; rural - these are all epistemological groups that do not really exist; they have no ontological veracity. NEED PROOF?! A person is a member of many MANY groups/classes; how that person sees himself AT ANY GIVEN TIME is too complex for any prediction. During elections, politicians and pundits often want a people to see themselves - identify themselves - as mostly members of one group over the others - if they think it will help their candidate - but that doesn't make people more one thing or another. Take me as an example, again: I am an urban, Jewish, registered Democrat, graduate school educated person, in the Arts. And I voted BUSH! Like I wrote above: neither the Brooks, Lebedoff or Hindera dichotomies can explain me.
I simply argue that the current political divide is the result of the effects of the persistent bias in certain specific institutions, and the fact this bias is Leftist. (And I didn't even mention the MSM!) These institutions are gradually opening up to a plurality of views - and as a result the Left is losing their monopoly - and more and more people are seeing the Light, and the Left will be left in the shadows... Still Need proof? Look at Congress: it's been getting steadily more Right-wing since 1980. Want more proof? Only centrist southern Democrats have won the presiency since 1964! YUP: The country has been moving Right since at least 1980. And if the Democrat Party moves Left - as they seem to be - they will simply fall off the table, and into the dustbin of history. Where they'll belong.