Skip to main content

Bad news for conservatives -- we’re becoming a more tolerant nation

Our vice presidential debate is in the history books. All of the judges are holding up score cards and reviews are decidedly mixed. I saw a clear win for Biden. VP debates hardly ever matter, though, and that’s probably true here.

But two recent polls reveal how the positions staked out by each VP candidate might play in the minds of voters. In the end, Biden’s win looks less important than the way his positions will be received by voters. And in that, new polls by Pew and Gallup – taken together – look good for Democrats.

Simply put, our society is inclined to be less coercively conservative and no longer dominantly Christian. We’re becoming more tolerant even if we’re not quite ready to call that “more liberal.” That doesn’t bode well for a candidate who wants to use government to enforce social doctrine or limit choices, both mainstays of conservative orthodoxy

The recent Pew poll upends the idea that we’re a “Christian nation.” For the first time in Pew polling, those describing themselves as protestant dropped below half. Today, approaching half of Americans are neither Protestant nor Catholic. In just five years, those who describe themselves as non-religiously affiliated grew from 15 percent to 20 percent – one in five Americans. But here are the big takeaways: Of all Americans, more than half believe that religions are too concerned with amassing wealth and promoting rules. Almost half say religions are too concerned with politics.

Together, these beliefs reveal an increasing willingness to apply a crap-detector test to pulpit politics. Gallup polling recently found that that only 44% of Americans have confidence in organized religions, a decline of almost 25 points from its high in 1975. In more assumption shattering news researchers also reported,

“For the first time, Gallup finds a majority of Americans, 52%, saying the government should not favor any set of values in society, while 44% believe it should promote traditional values. From 1993 through 2004, the majority of Americans consistently favored the government's promoting of traditional values, but views have since been more mixed.”

How does all this polling data relate to the vice presidential debate? It appears we are in the midst of an historic decline of public support for coercive conservatism. If that is true, it bodes well for abortion and family planning choice, marriage choice, and choice in general. It bodes poorly for choice-limiting law making, neoconservative adventurism in the Middle East (and its Crusader roots), for ending Social Security and for vouchering Medicare.

Why these last two? Because arguments for getting rid of Social Security and Medicare are rooted in conservative dogma that humans are lazy and selfish. They rely on the quasi-religious orthodoxy that people need to be scared into being good. The real purpose, of course, is simply to increase the size of the labor pool by making it harder to retire. This drives down wages for everyone to the benefit of their employers. (At the heart of most Republican social initiatives is a desire to make your labor worth less.)

Fire and Brimstone no longer have a stranglehold on the American psyche. We Americans no longer want government to enforce personal behaviors or religious tenets. Younger Americans are even more likely to put personal fulfillment and personal freedom ahead of government enforced choice limits. And this trend is accelerating. That’s not good news for conservatives, but it is probably good news for America.

Coercive Conservatism, Pew, Gallup, debate, election, 2012, Jimmy Zuma, religion, politics, liberal

We’re becoming a more tolerant nation. That’s bad news for conservatives.

EMAIL TO A FRIEND X
Your Email has been sent.
You must add at least one tag to this diary before publishing it.

Add keywords that describe this diary. Separate multiple keywords with commas.
Tagging tips - Search For Tags - Browse For Tags

?

More Tagging tips:

A tag is a way to search for this diary. If someone is searching for "Barack Obama," is this a diary they'd be trying to find?

Use a person's full name, without any title. Senator Obama may become President Obama, and Michelle Obama might run for office.

If your diary covers an election or elected official, use election tags, which are generally the state abbreviation followed by the office. CA-01 is the first district House seat. CA-Sen covers both senate races. NY-GOV covers the New York governor's race.

Tags do not compound: that is, "education reform" is a completely different tag from "education". A tag like "reform" alone is probably not meaningful.

Consider if one or more of these tags fits your diary: Civil Rights, Community, Congress, Culture, Economy, Education, Elections, Energy, Environment, Health Care, International, Labor, Law, Media, Meta, National Security, Science, Transportation, or White House. If your diary is specific to a state, consider adding the state (California, Texas, etc). Keep in mind, though, that there are many wonderful and important diaries that don't fit in any of these tags. Don't worry if yours doesn't.

You can add a private note to this diary when hotlisting it:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from your hotlist?
Are you sure you want to remove your recommendation? You can only recommend a diary once, so you will not be able to re-recommend it afterwards.
Rescue this diary, and add a note:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from Rescue?
Choose where to republish this diary. The diary will be added to the queue for that group. Publish it from the queue to make it appear.

You must be a member of a group to use this feature.

Add a quick update to your diary without changing the diary itself:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary?
(The diary will be removed from the site and returned to your drafts for further editing.)
(The diary will be removed.)
Are you sure you want to save these changes to the published diary?

Comment Preferences

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site