Finally, we social progressives seem to be winning in the opinion polls.
A new poll released by CNN yesterday shows a shift in the mind of the voting public — for the first time since CNN began asking the question in 1993, the percentage of voters who say that government should promote “traditional values” has fallen below 50% (full PDF of the poll results here). 50% said that government should not promote any type of particular values, while 46% said that government should promote traditional values.
This is the lowest number in these 18 years — and down from an all time high of 59% in October 2001. Not surprisingly, 60% of Republicans said the government should promote traditional values. But the number of independent voters — those swing votes needed for any national candidate — wanting to hear traditional values coming from DC dropped 12 points since last year. Economic issues like jobs and seniors’ Medicare are simply beginning to take the front seat in the mind of the American voter.
CNN notes — rightfully so — that this is far from the end of the “values voter”. We are far from having a social mandate: we are still unable to tell the powerful, socially conservative far Right where to go and how to get there. However, this shows cultural tides are shifting. Quick.
The “values” crowd went from a 16 point advantage in 2008 to a 4 point deficit now. Twenty points. Three short years. Who would have thought even a decade ago that we would see numbers like 70% of youth (18-34) — and 61% of men aged 18-49, an almost 1/3 jump in a year’s time — supporting same-sex marriage in 2011? A majority of voters supporting same-sex unions — in TEXAS?
Regardless of one’s faith, I believe that any voter who says that “I want to see my traditional values coming from Washington, DC in the form of legislation” is only asking for heartbreak at best and lawsuits at worst. Is Congress the group of people these voters truly believe are equipped to make moral decisions on behalf of their families?
How do the same people who clamor for the government to get out of their lives simultaneously clamor for anti-abortion, anti-woman, anti-LGBT, and anti-marriage legislation? Would they really like to see a law passed about same-sex marriage rather than simply teaching their own children their values – and letting other people live their lives in peace? Is this not antithetical to the entire “small government” doctrine of DC infringing as little as possible on the lives of citizens?
Our Constitution holds freedom of (or freedom from) religion to be sacrosanct. In America, one simply can not attempt to codify their religious doctrine into U.S. Law except in the area of religious accommodations (e.g., kosher laws, sharia-compliant banking, etc). This principle is invoked against Muslims continuously — the Christian Right would do well to heed their own advice. And let us not forget, many people of faith in America hold “progressive values” to be as close to their faiths as the “social conservatives” do.
We’re not out of the woods yet, but the Radical Christianist agenda is not sustainable. As voices of unity and equality begin to win out more and more over those of hatred, bigotry and inequality, these numbers will only continue to shift.