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  #1  
Old 06-15-2008, 11:11 PM
TwinSwords TwinSwords is offline
 
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Default Are Americans Liberal?

"Liberal" is a bad word in the United States, after years of Republicans deploying it as an epithet. But the evidence suggests that in fact, most Americans are liberal. Because of the skewed nature of our national political discourse, I think most people would be surprised to find out that:

— Most REPUBLICANS support stronger measures to protect the environment,
— Most REPUBLICANS support unions
— Most REPUBLICANS support affirmative action
— Most REPUBLICANS believe corporations make too much profit
— Most REPUBLICANS believe that global warming is both real and man-made

Apparently, the Republican Party doesn't even represent its own membership on most issues. The national Republican Party's official positions are far to the right of most actual Republicans on these issues.

What is strange is that when directly asked "are you liberal," most Americans say "no." But when you ask about specific issues, most Americans are liberal on most issues.

Of course, there are issues where the public remains more conservative, such as gay marriage. But even on the topic of gay marriage, data indicate that the public is liberal and getting more liberal each year.







These are all from the same source: http://people-press.org/reports/pdf/312.pdf

This study didn't ask about every issue, but other polls indicate that Americans hold the liberal point of view with respect to:

— Abortion rights
— Stem cell research
— National/universal health care
— Immigration (let them stay; become citizens)
— Social Security

The remarkable thing is that most of this defies conventional wisdom. If you listen to the media or the Republican Party, you would scarcely suspect that most Republicans support unions or that most Americans support amnesty for illegal immigrants.

Last edited by TwinSwords; 01-16-2011 at 06:29 PM..
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  #2  
Old 06-15-2008, 11:12 PM
TwinSwords TwinSwords is offline
 
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Default Re: Are Americans Liberal?



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  #3  
Old 06-15-2008, 11:26 PM
TwinSwords TwinSwords is offline
 
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Default Re: Are Americans Liberal?




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  #4  
Old 06-25-2008, 09:18 AM
TwinSwords TwinSwords is offline
 
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Default Re: Are Americans Liberal?

53% is not nearly large enough, but it's a clear majority over the pro-barbarism position favored by conservatives.

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  #5  
Old 06-25-2008, 10:36 AM
AemJeff AemJeff is offline
 
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Default Re: Are Americans Liberal?

One thing that strikes me, looking at that graph, is that on the order of one in ten people worldwide believe that "torture should generally be allowed." That's a staggering statistic.
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  #6  
Old 06-25-2008, 02:44 PM
Thus Spoke Elvis Thus Spoke Elvis is offline
 
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Default Re: Are Americans Liberal?

As I've said previously, I'm skeptical of polls regarding political positions, as people's responses tend to vary substantially depending on how a question is framed, whether they are also asked to consider various costs, benefits, and other variables in relation to a policy, etc. For example, on the issue of torture, polls are all over the place, depending on when the question is asked and how it's phrased. I think a better assessment of people's ideology is based upon their actions -- both in how they live their lives (if you really think its so important to reduce carbon emissions, why the hell are you driving an SUV?!!) and how they vote. Judging by the polls you've provided, TwinSwords, a guy like Dennis Kucinich should be a far more successful politician. Why isn't he?

All that being said, I do think you've provided strong evidence that Americans are generally more favorable to liberal policies than conservative policies than they were fifteen years ago. Whether these polls measure actual political ideology, or simply dissatisfaction with the policies of the current administration, remains to be seen.
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  #7  
Old 06-30-2008, 03:47 PM
johnnk johnnk is offline
 
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Default Re: Are Americans Liberal?

— Most REPUBLICANS support stronger measures to protect the environment,
— Most REPUBLICANS support unions
— Most REPUBLICANS support affirmative action
— Most REPUBLICANS believe corporations make too much profit
— Most REPUBLICANS believe that global warming is both real and man-made



No
No
NO
NO
and No.

Keep dreaming.
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  #8  
Old 06-30-2008, 04:10 PM
bjkeefe bjkeefe is offline
 
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Default Re: Are Americans Liberal?

Quote:
Originally Posted by johnnk View Post
— Most REPUBLICANS ... [blah, blah, blah] ...

Keep dreaming.
Assuming you're right, why are your party leaders so out of touch with the population, then? And why do so few of you have the inability to admit this, get over your built-in aversion to the name "Democratic Party," and come join up?
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  #9  
Old 06-30-2008, 08:10 PM
TwinSwords TwinSwords is offline
 
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Default Re: Are Americans Liberal?

Quote:
Originally Posted by johnnk View Post
— Most REPUBLICANS support stronger measures to protect the environment,
— Most REPUBLICANS support unions
— Most REPUBLICANS support affirmative action
— Most REPUBLICANS believe corporations make too much profit
— Most REPUBLICANS believe that global warming is both real and man-made



No
No
NO
NO
and No.

Keep dreaming.
Compelling and thoughtful argument on your part.

I will just note that all of those assertions are supported by the polling data provided in the thread. But I know: reality has a well known liberal bias.
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  #10  
Old 07-19-2008, 12:31 PM
TwinSwords TwinSwords is offline
 
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Default 75% support gays in the military

From The Washington Post:

Quote:
Public attitudes about gays in the military have shifted dramatically since President Bill Clinton unveiled what became his administration's "don't ask, don't tell" policy 15 years ago today.

Seventy-five percent of Americans in a new Washington Post-ABC News poll said gay people who are open about their sexual orientation should be allowed to serve in the U.S. military, up from 62 percent in early 2001 and 44 percent in 1993.

As with so many issues, the Republican Party doesn't even represent its own members:

Quote:
Majorities of Democrats, Republicans and independents alike now believe it is acceptable for openly gay people to serve in the U.S. armed forces. Shortly after he took office in 1993, Clinton faced strong resistance to his campaign pledge to lift the military's ban on allowing gay people to enlist. At that time, 67 percent of Republicans and 75 percent of conservatives opposed the idea. A majority of independents, 56 percent, and 45 percent of Democrats also opposed changing the policy.

Today, Americans have become more supportive of allowing openly gay men and women to serve in the armed forces. Support from Republicans has doubled over the past 15 years, from 32 to 64 percent. More than eight in 10 Democrats and more than three-quarters of independents now support the idea, as did nearly two-thirds of self-described conservatives.
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  #11  
Old 07-19-2008, 12:38 PM
TwinSwords TwinSwords is offline
 
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Default "Far left" positions actually mainstream

Iraq War:

Do you favor or oppose the U.S. war in Iraq?

Favor: 30
Oppose: 68
Unsure: 2


If you had to choose, would you rather see the next president keep the same number of troops in Iraq that are currently stationed there, or would you rather see the next president remove most U.S. troops in Iraq within a few months of taking office?

Keep Same: 33
Remove Most: 64
Unsure: 3


Stem Cell research:

There is a type of medical research that involves using special cells, called embryonic stem cells, that might be used in the future to treat or cure many diseases, such as Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, diabetes, and spinal cord injury. It involves using human embryos discarded from fertility clinics that no longer need them. Some people say that using human embryos for research is wrong. Do you favor or oppose using discarded embryos to conduct stem cell research to try to find cures for the diseases I mentioned?

Favor: 73
Oppose: 19
Unsure: 8


Abortion:

Do you think abortion should be legal in all cases, legal in most cases, illegal in most cases, or illegal in all cases?

Legal:
All: 19
Most: 38

Illegal:
Most: 24
All: 13
Unsure: 6


Minimum wage:

Do you favor or oppose an increase in the minimum wage?

Favor: 80
Oppose: 18
Unsure: 2
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  #12  
Old 07-19-2008, 01:20 PM
bjkeefe bjkeefe is offline
 
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Default Re: "Far left" positions actually mainstream

Twin:

I wouldn't call the results on the abortion question "far left," but your larger points stands.
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  #13  
Old 09-18-2008, 05:32 PM
TwinSwords TwinSwords is offline
 
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Default Re: "Far left" positions actually mainstream

Americans support stricter gun control laws.

(h/t AEMJeff)
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  #14  
Old 09-18-2008, 05:52 PM
nikkibong nikkibong is offline
 
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Default Re: Are Americans Liberal?

Twin Swords is right: The problem is not that (most) Americans are fundamentally conservative. Rather, the problem it's that they are fundamentally cynical about what government - and especially politicians - can accomplish.

At a bar I frequent, far on the outskirts of Portland, Oregon (real red state/neck country), the overwhelming majority of the regulars are fundamentally liberal on the issues. They rail against private health insurance, against the "greed" of Big Business, against the war in Iraq, and against the slowness the barmaid is taking in pouring that whiskey sour! (Sorry, I digress.) A lot of them still plan on voting for McCain, however. Why? Because they don't actually think the government can do anything about these problems. (Ironic, considering that the government was instrumental in generating a lot of these problems.) It's as if they think politicians are detached from the problems they face. Even when I point out that their position on the issues would put them in sync with Obama, they still claim "he's not gonna do anything about it."
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  #15  
Old 09-18-2008, 06:09 PM
bjkeefe bjkeefe is offline
 
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Default Re: Are Americans Liberal?

Quote:
Originally Posted by nikkibong View Post
Twin Swords is right: The problem is not that (most) Americans are fundamentally conservative. Rather, the problem it's that they are fundamentally cynical about what government - and especially politicians - can accomplish.

At a bar I frequent, far on the outskirts of Portland, Oregon (real red state/neck country), the overwhelming majority of the regulars are fundamentally liberal on the issues. They rail against private health insurance, against the "greed" of Big Business, against the war in Iraq, and against the slowness the barmaid is taking in pouring that whiskey sour! (Sorry, I digress.) A lot of them still plan on voting for McCain, however. Why? Because they don't actually think the government can do anything about these problems. (Ironic, considering that the government was instrumental in generating a lot of these problems.) It's as if they think politicians are detached from the problems they face. Even when I point out that their position on the issues would put them in sync with Obama, they still claim "he's not gonna do anything about it."
Yes, I think that's a real part of it.

I would point out, however, that the GOP and the rightwing noise machine in general have been pounding this idea into their head for decades, not to mention proving the point whenever they hold the reins of power.

I would also point out that the RWNM has so poisoned the word "liberal" that any proposal made by a Democratic politician can be labeled "liberal" by an idea-free Republican opponent. This usually makes too many people stop considering the idea on its own merits, and almost instantly.
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  #16  
Old 09-19-2008, 05:29 AM
Horza Horza is offline
 
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Default Re: Are Americans Liberal?

Yes, you're Liberals.

No real history of social democracy at a parliamentary level and largely lacking in an elite hereditary class or communal conservative political parties. This is largely due to your antiquated creaking electoral system and wierdo tax-protestor national origins. Your defining national myth tends to drive towards liberalism as well.

Last edited by Horza; 09-19-2008 at 05:33 AM..
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  #17  
Old 09-19-2008, 07:47 AM
TwinSwords TwinSwords is offline
 
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Default Re: Are Americans Liberal?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Horza View Post
Yes, you're Liberals.

No real history of social democracy at a parliamentary level and largely lacking in an elite hereditary class or communal conservative political parties. This is largely due to your antiquated creaking electoral system and wierdo tax-protestor national origins. Your defining national myth tends to drive towards liberalism as well.
This is an interesting post, and it sounds like you might have some interesting things to say, but you should elaborate and clarify your remarks.

For example, I don't understand how a lack of an elite hereditary class can be attributed to our antiquated electoral system. Could you explain a bit further?

In any event, good to hear from you.
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  #18  
Old 09-19-2008, 08:30 AM
Horza Horza is offline
 
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Default Re: Are Americans Liberal?

My apologies, I was being a bit flip. The elite hereditary class thing isn't due to your quaint electoral system but it does set your political culture apart from other democratic countries.

The United States doesn't have a social democratic/labo(u)r party or a communal conservative party in part because of political decisions (Gompers' decision to keep the AFL out of formal party politics, foremost) but the US two party system as well tends to encourage diverse coalitions between regional and sectional interest groups under the umbrella of the major parties rather than under their own parliamentary flag.

This two-party arrangement is inevitable under an electoral system that determines executive office through a combination of winner-take-all electorates (outside NE and ME) and first-past-the-post voting and a legislature without an independent electoral office to oversee redistricting and vote-counting.

Now it happens that even with the caveats about broad coalitions, both of these major parties espouse variants of liberalism, the Republicans tending towards economic liberalism and the Democrats towards social liberalism, both reflecting aspects of the US national mythos - individualism, self-sufficiency, self-definition, frontiersmanship and free enterprise. Which isn't to say that their aren't conservative and social democratic strains of US politics and culture, but they aren't foremost in your political dialogue and national culture: liberalism is.

Last edited by Horza; 09-19-2008 at 08:34 AM..
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  #19  
Old 09-19-2008, 02:21 PM
bjkeefe bjkeefe is offline
 
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Default Re: Are Americans Liberal?

Horza:

Good critiques. I hope to hear more from you.
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  #20  
Old 09-25-2008, 11:29 PM
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Default Re: On Psychiatry, Psychology and interrogations.

I guess this is somewhat related to being liberal. Or ethical, which these days seems to be almost a synonym...
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  #21  
Old 09-26-2008, 03:59 AM
bjkeefe bjkeefe is offline
 
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Default Re: On Psychiatry, Psychology and interrogations.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ocean View Post
I guess this is somewhat related to being liberal. Or ethical, which these days seems to be almost a synonym...
I agree, but also in an unfortunate way -- the APA just now coming to this reminds me of the liberals who have been happily bashing Bush lately, but who were delighted to be hawkish during the selling of the invasion of Iraq in 2003.
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Old 09-26-2008, 07:22 AM
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Default Re: On Psychiatry, Psychology and interrogations.

Quote:
Originally Posted by bjkeefe View Post
I agree, but also in an unfortunate way -- the APA just now coming to this reminds me of the liberals who have been happily bashing Bush lately, but who were delighted to be hawkish during the selling of the invasion of Iraq in 2003.
No. Not even a remote resemblance. The APA never participated or encouraged this kind of activity. If you want to find objection, perhaps you can make an argument about a delay in response. But there was never direct or indirect support. Don't get confused. It's plainly inappropriate.
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  #23  
Old 09-26-2008, 04:22 PM
bjkeefe bjkeefe is offline
 
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Default Re: On Psychiatry, Psychology and interrogations.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ocean View Post
No. Not even a remote resemblance. The APA never participated or encouraged this kind of activity. If you want to find objection, perhaps you can make an argument about a delay in response. But there was never direct or indirect support. Don't get confused. It's plainly inappropriate.
You're right, I made it seem as though I was accusing them of completely flip-flopping by comparing them to the erstwhile liberal hawks. My analogy was a bit misleading. It was the delay in making a statement of condemnation that I was belittling, and not a (non-existent) complete reversal of position.

Still, though, there have been calls for a statement like this to be made for years now, as soon as it became known that psychiatrists were assisting in the interrogations at Guantanamo. Therefore, I still think the APA deserves long, slow, sarcastic applause for coming out with this statement just now.
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  #24  
Old 09-26-2008, 06:37 PM
Ocean Ocean is offline
 
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Default Re: On Psychiatry, Psychology and interrogations.

Quote:
Originally Posted by bjkeefe View Post
You're right, I made it seem as though I was accusing them of completely flip-flopping by comparing them to the erstwhile liberal hawks. My analogy was a bit misleading. It was the delay in making a statement of condemnation that I was belittling, and not a (non-existent) complete reversal of position.

Still, though, there have been calls for a statement like this to be made for years now, as soon as it became known that psychiatrists were assisting in the interrogations at Guantanamo. Therefore, I still think the APA deserves long, slow, sarcastic applause for coming out with this statement just now.
Well, yes, this I agree with. Inside professional associations there are politics as everywhere else. The APA has been walking a thin line, and depending on who are the leaders at the time, they may lean to one side or the other. I think there has been too much of looking the other way. And that's probably also political since the APA has its own lobbying agenda, and they may not have wanted to piss off the Republicans, who are usually the ones that block any initiative for parity (which the APA has been pursuing).

Sorry if I called you on your previous post, but, hey! you know we all have our hobbyhorses...
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Old 09-26-2008, 11:24 PM
bjkeefe bjkeefe is offline
 
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Default Re: On Psychiatry, Psychology and interrogations.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ocean View Post
Sorry if I called you on your previous post, but, hey! you know we all have our hobbyhorses...
Not at all. You were correct to do so. I wasn't clear in what I was criticizing, and it's good that you caused me to clarify.
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  #26  
Old 09-27-2008, 12:09 AM
TwinSwords TwinSwords is offline
 
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Default Re: On Psychiatry, Psychology and interrogations.

Quote:
Originally Posted by bjkeefe View Post
You're right, I made it seem as though I was accusing them of completely flip-flopping by comparing them to the erstwhile liberal hawks. My analogy was a bit misleading.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ocean View Post
Well, yes, this I agree with. ... Sorry if I called you on your previous post, but, hey! you know we all have our hobbyhorses...
Quote:
Originally Posted by bjkeefe View Post
Not at all. You were correct to do so. I wasn't clear in what I was criticizing, and it's good that you caused me to clarify.
Rodney King approves of you two.



.
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Old 09-27-2008, 12:32 AM
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Default Re: On Psychiatry, Psychology and interrogations.

Quote:
Originally Posted by TwinSwords View Post
Rodney King approves of you two.



.
Heh. You wish your arguments had such happy endings... don't you?

We can all get along...
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  #28  
Old 09-27-2008, 02:16 AM
bjkeefe bjkeefe is offline
 
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Default Re: On Psychiatry, Psychology and interrogations.

Quote:
Originally Posted by TwinSwords View Post
Rodney King approves of you two. .

Heh. Newsflash: two liberals being courteous to each other!
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  #29  
Old 09-27-2008, 12:06 PM
TwinSwords TwinSwords is offline
 
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Default Re: On Psychiatry, Psychology and interrogations.

Quote:
Originally Posted by bjkeefe View Post
Heh. Newsflash: two liberals being courteous to each other!
Yeah, I officially applaud and approve of your civilized discourse and friendly exchange. I hope you guys didn't think I was being meanspirited with that comment; I was just kidding around. And I appreciate the fact that you can talk through an issue in an adult manner without either of you getting your back up and turning it into an argument.

Go rationality! Go mature discourse!!


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Old 09-27-2008, 12:16 PM
Ocean Ocean is offline
 
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Default Re: On Psychiatry, Psychology and interrogations.

Quote:
Originally Posted by TwinSwords View Post
Yeah, I officially applaud and approve of your civilized discourse and friendly exchange. I hope you guys didn't think I was being meanspirited with that comment; I was just kidding around. And I appreciate the fact that you can talk through an issue in an adult manner without either of you getting your back up and turning it into an argument.

Go rationality! Go mature discourse!!


.
Nothing to worry about. We thought very highly of you too. It's just too funny!

And I love all those smileys that you use. Where do you get them?
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Old 09-27-2008, 08:19 PM
bjkeefe bjkeefe is offline
 
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Default Re: On Psychiatry, Psychology and interrogations.

Quote:
Originally Posted by TwinSwords View Post
I hope you guys didn't think I was being meanspirited with that comment; I was just kidding around.
Not at all. That's how I took it.
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Old 09-30-2008, 08:48 PM
TwinSwords TwinSwords is offline
 
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Default Re: On Psychiatry, Psychology and interrogations.

Quote:
Originally Posted by bjkeefe View Post
Not at all. That's how I took it.
I should have known we can all get along.




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  #33  
Old 10-07-2008, 10:55 AM
TwinSwords TwinSwords is offline
 
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Default The Kids Are Alright

From Matt Yglesias:


Youth Decay

I used to sometimes think that the relatively left-wing views of the under-30 generation were basically just a reflection of the fact that the under-30 cohort contains many fewer non-hispanic whites than does the over-30 cohort. This new report from Amanda Logan and David Madlan makes it clear that’s not right — young whites have substantially more progressive views on a whole range of key issues than do older whites, and there’s substantial convergence between the views of young whites and young minorities:
Quote:
Young whites, again, hold markedly more progressive views than older whites on the issue of federal spending on child care, while black Millennials’ views are slightly less progressive than their elders’, and Hispanic Millennials’ views are essentially the same as older Hispanics.32 In 2004, 77.8 percent of 18- to 29-year-old blacks thought that federal spending for child care should be increased, compared to 85.5 percent of blacks aged 30 and older. In the same year, 71.4 percent of young Hispanics and 71.6 percent of older Hispanics felt that this funding should be increased. For whites, however, the picture was different in 2004, with 68.1 percent of 18- to 29-year-olds thinking federal spending for child care should be increased compared to just 50.1 percent of whites aged 30 and older.

Yet again, on the topic of spending for the poor, white Millennials have noticeably more progressive views than older whites, while the views of both black and Hispanic Millennials are relatively in line with those of their elders. In 2004, 82.9 percent of young blacks thought that federal spending for the poor should be increased, along with 88.1 percent of blacks aged 30 and older. For Hispanics, the support was even more uniform in 2004, with 65.9 percent of 18- to 29-year-olds and 62.3 percent of Hispanics aged 30 and older in favor of increased federal spending for the poor. In contrast, 57.6 percent of white Millennials thought that this spending should be increased compared to just 48.1 percent of whites aged 30 and older.
I believe it’s not online, but if you hunt down a copy of the current issue of The Atlantic you should find that it comes packaged with a separately published election supplement that features, among other things, a piece by yours truly observing that the present day conservative coalition seems to mostly be stuck with the shrinking slices of the demographic pie. This data shows us one of the major driving factors behind that.

-- Matt Yglesias
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  #34  
Old 10-25-2008, 03:20 PM
AemJeff AemJeff is offline
 
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Default Are Members of the Armed Forces Conservative?

An interesting perpective.
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  #35  
Old 10-25-2008, 04:46 PM
bjkeefe bjkeefe is offline
 
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Default Re: Are Members of the Armed Forces Conservative?

Quote:
Originally Posted by AemJeff View Post
Yes it was. Thanks for the link.

I found this telling:

Quote:
Interestingly, self-identified conservative officers often supplied moderate responses when asked about spending on Social Security, health care, and education. The same held for social issues such as the role of women in the workplace, affirmative action, gun control, and the death penalty. In fact, one-third of the officers who answered such questions in a consistently liberal manner still said they were conservative, suggesting that self-identification as a conservative may be as much a cultural norm among officers as a reflection of ideological preference.
I expect that, as with the civilian population, the rightwing noise machine has succeeding in making "liberal" a dirty word among the military. Doubtless, this feeling has long been enhanced by the institutional association of "liberals" with an antiwar, anti-military caricature. I don't doubt that the brass's choice to prefer piping in Rush, et al, and to suppress liberal talk radio, contributes.
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  #36  
Old 10-25-2008, 05:07 PM
AemJeff AemJeff is offline
 
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Default Re: Are Members of the Armed Forces Conservative?

Quote:
Originally Posted by bjkeefe View Post
Yes it was. Thanks for the link.

I found this telling:



I expect that, as with the civilian population, the rightwing noise machine has succeeding in making "liberal" a dirty word among the military. Doubtless, this feeling has long been enhanced by the institutional association of "liberals" with an antiwar, anti-military caricature. I don't doubt that the brass's choice to prefer piping in Rush, et al, and to suppress liberal talk radio, contributes.
I think you highlighted the most important graf in that article. Calling yourself "conservative" can be important to your survival in certain social settings - regardless of what you believe.
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  #37  
Old 10-25-2008, 06:28 PM
bjkeefe bjkeefe is offline
 
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Default Re: Are Members of the Armed Forces Conservative?

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Originally Posted by AemJeff View Post
I think you highlighted the most important graf in that article. Calling yourself "conservative" can be important to your survival in certain social settings - regardless of what you believe.
Exactly. I think we see the same thing at play with religious attitudes -- many people who never go to church, and who are even happy to admit to a pollster that they have no particular affiliation will nonetheless say that they consider themselves "religious" or at least "spiritual." I expect this habit of self-defensive self-identification is even more pronounced in everyday life. (It works both ways, in this case, of course; i.e., I'm pretty sure that devout people are a lot more circumspect in places where their peer groups are dominated by atheists and agnostics.)

I'd like us to get back to the place where people once again feel good about saying "I'm pretty liberal, I guess," and feel less sure that saying "I'm a conservative!" will automatically get them a pass.
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Last edited by bjkeefe; 10-25-2008 at 06:30 PM..
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  #38  
Old 10-25-2008, 10:11 PM
Ocean Ocean is offline
 
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Default Re: Are Members of the Armed Forces Conservative?

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Originally Posted by bjkeefe View Post
Exactly. I think we see the same thing at play with religious attitudes -- many people who never go to church, and who are even happy to admit to a pollster that they have no particular affiliation will nonetheless say that they consider themselves "religious" or at least "spiritual." I expect this habit of self-defensive self-identification is even more pronounced in everyday life. (It works both ways, in this case, of course; i.e., I'm pretty sure that devout people are a lot more circumspect in places where their peer groups are dominated by atheists and agnostics.)
As usual, I'm dropping in one of your 'conversations'. But I just found it interesting.
When I came to this country, and after the second or third time I noticed the reaction that people had when I said I was agnostic, I stopped saying it. After that, when asked, I would come up with some convoluted idea, not far from the truth in certain aspects, that most of my family was loosely Catholic, but that there were some Methodists and agnostics, and therefore I was 'non-denominational'. It wasn't until recent years that I decided to be open and say that I'm agnostic.

I would, however, be cautious in how you conceptualize the disclosure of something being "spiritual". It is unfortunate that some people may experience unusual states of mind and not know how to interpret them. While trying to look for information about such experiences, one comes across an extraordinary amount of writings of the most diverse origins. It may actually become an interesting topic to investigate and learn about. Since there is no clear cut description or explanation for some of those states of mind, a lot of the literature about that topic is going to be in the fringes, from the most absurd superstitions to quasi-reasonable pseudo-scientific explanations. If someone has a religious background, it would be very easy to fall into those kinds of interpretations. But for those who do not have a religious background, it remains an enigma. The quest for understanding is sometimes quite irresistible. I personally have been agnostic all my life, and I wouldn't accept easy answers, but only those that appear, at least to me, to be more rational. Why all this babbling? Just to say that this is the sort of thing that others would label "spirituality". I personally wouldn't say that. I don't even understand well what the idea of 'spirit' is.
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Old 10-25-2008, 10:37 PM
bjkeefe bjkeefe is offline
 
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Default Re: Are Members of the Armed Forces Conservative?

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I would, however, be cautious in how you conceptualize the disclosure of something being "spiritual".
Of course I was making sweeping generalizations, and of course there are exceptions to all of them. But the sort of person I'm thinking of, who says, "I'm a spiritual person," is generally not someone who has experienced the levels you describe. I can't back this up with data, but from a lifetime of talking to such people, my impression is that they're not talking about much beyond the usual sense of wonder at the universe, the feeling (or hope) that there is some sort of larger meaning, and things of that nature.

[Added] I should say that I don't mean to belittle this. If people want to call these feelings "spiritual," that's perfectly fine with me. My only point, in the context of this discussion, is that I believe people are eager to latch onto such a term because they are less comfortable identifying themselves as non-religious, and this label provides them a convenient out.
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Last edited by bjkeefe; 10-25-2008 at 10:54 PM.. Reason: 2nd paragraph
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  #40  
Old 10-25-2008, 11:08 PM
Ocean Ocean is offline
 
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Default Re: Are Members of the Armed Forces Conservative?

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Of course I was making sweeping generalizations, and of course there are exceptions to all of them. But the sort of person I'm thinking of, who says, "I'm a spiritual person," is generally not someone who has experienced the levels you describe. I can't back this up with data, but from a lifetime of talking to such people, my impression is that they're not talking about much beyond the usual sense of wonder at the universe, the feeling (or hope) that there is some sort of larger meaning, and things of that nature.

[Added] I should say that I don't mean to belittle this. If people want to call these feelings "spiritual," that's perfectly fine with me. My only point, in the context of this discussion, is that I believe people are eager to latch onto such a term because they are less comfortable identifying themselves as non-religious, and this label provides them a convenient out.
I entered this conversation rather abruptly, so I'm not sure where all this started or where it's trying to go (yes, I know, why am I writing this?), but, it seems to me that the overall topic is that of self-definitions or self-identifications and those are always concepts too complex. There are many reasons someone may say "I'm x." and perhaps not quite be so. You can find from plain lying to definitional confusion, to partial knowledge of the concept, etc. That's why, many people tend to accept, unless you have reasons to suspect foul play, whatever the other person chooses to be their self-definition.

I think you started this by talking about the military. I think there is definitely more difficult for, say, a liberal to disclose it. It would plainly be self defeating. Hopefully that will change in the future.
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