Saturday, May 30, 2015

Is the US Getting More Liberal?

Vox has recently had a few articles pointing out that US sensibilities are getting more liberal.

For the first time, social liberals are as common as social conservatives.

Gallup social liberal conservative

This is mostly due to a change of heart — or at least a change of identification — among Democrats, who are much more likely to describe themselves as liberal than they used to be. It probably also reflects significant, fast-moving shifts of public opinion on social issues like same-sex marriage and marijuana legalization.

Americans are shifting left on almost every social issue you can think of


Just about the only things Americans are less likely to accept since 2001? The death penalty and animal testing. While the trend is shifting in a libertarian direction, the rising influence of "cultural liberal" values seem to move along with more libertine views about sex and a growing compassion toward convicted criminals and non-human animals.

More Americans now consider themselves pro-choice than pro-life


Much of the shift looks to be happening among middle-age Americans. Support for abortion rights among people between the ages of 35 and 55 grew from 40 percent in 2012 to 52 percent this year.

I don't find any of this surprising. The whole definition of liberal and conservative is how quickly they accept new things. To me the acceptance is inevitable, it's just the rate that's different. Gays rights has moved more quickly than I would have guessed, but now I'm not surprised by it. I remember when test tube babies were controversial and now IVF is common. The world that Mad Men showed seemed completely alien to me.

Of all these social issues the conflict I get the most is abortion. One side thinks they're protecting defenseless babies, that's not ignoble. But it's been pretty constant that if you ask the question differently you get about 70% think there are some cases where abortion should be legal, e.g., to protect the life of the mother. The Texas law that Roe v. Wade overturned allowed that as the only exception to the ban and the issue was to include the health of the mother. Now most people support that case as well. As I understand it some states allow exceptions for the mental health of the mother which is easy to extend to anytime and people get uncomfortable with that notion. Even many pro-choice people don't support it in order to choose the sex of their baby.

So next up we have climate change. With Texas under water and California wishing they were, I suspect those notions will change too. I haven't heard anyone blame the gays for either of these yet so that's already an improvement. With a slight decline in evangelicals and an increase in unaffiliated, maybe the hard right's war on science will come to an end.


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