More Americans say they are liberal

Published 10:30 am Friday, May 29, 2015

Once, many years ago, the predominant portrayal of American life was framed with television and by shows like Mayberry RFD and Happy Days. It was a representation of less complex times, and more simplistic modelling of American life as a pleasant uniformity.

Today television still attempts to reflect the lives of Americans but with shows like “Blackish” and “Modern Times.” Our world is fundamentally presented in richer, deeper, more expressive lives that often portray lifestyles and values at odds with each other.

The wealth of a society, often measured by its creativity, is best discovered in its diversity, for diversity stretches our imaginations, expands our horizons, and invites the unknown into our worldviews.

Diversity also teaches us that understanding our differences makes us, as a people, stronger and more versatile. But perhaps the most valuable attribute of diversity is that when approaching and understanding someone so very different from ourselves we discover tolerance in the process.

America is discovering tolerance as a byproduct of diverse lives, values, passions and creativity, and with that tolerance we are becoming a more liberal society.

This week Gallup released a report on the moral acceptability of 19 variables, a project Gallup has researched since the early 2000’s. In that report Gallup reports that more Americans identify themselves as “liberal” than ever in the past 14 plus years reporting by Gallup. According to Gallup, as many Americans now identify as liberal as those who identify as conservative.

Ten of the 19 moral acceptability issues are at their highest measure this year, including acceptance of gay relationships, up 23 percent this year alone. Having babies outside of marriage is up 16 percent. Acceptance of premarital sex is up 15 points. Support of using human stem cells in research is up 12 points, as is moral acceptance of divorce.

The death penalty, a conservative value, is down 3 percent, and support for using animals in research is down 9 points.

We are becoming a more liberal country.

At the same time we are becoming a less religious country, according to a Pew Research Center report from earlier this month. Pew reports that the number of Americans not identifying with any religion is growing the number of Americans self-identifying as Christians is shrinking.

America has long been one of the most religious Western democracies and remains so in spite of this shift, but clearly the influence of religion in our lives is changing.

What this means to our national political perspective in 2016 remains to be seen, for there seems little interest in the early campaigning in discussing social value issues.

Republicans seem to want to discuss foreign policy singularly, and while newly announced Presidential candidate Bernie Sanders discusses a wide range of issues, the leading candidate, Hillary Clinton, so far discusses very little on any topic.

Certainly foreign policy should be a topic for 2016 as the U.S. has to decide its role in the world where budgets and commitments now constrain our choices. And in domestic policy we must hope the issues of infrastructure, budgeting, Social Security and Medicare along with the ongoing expansion of the Affordable Care Act all deserve the attention of those who would need the nation.

It would be in the best interests of all if social morality and changing acceptance were left for the people to decide, and the politicians, instead of hyping sensitive differences as we change, focus upon the current failures of governing.

For make no mistake, there is very little effective governing going on in Congress.


Jim Crawford is a retired educator and political enthusiast living here in the Tri-State.