So, is the country becoming more conservative?
According to the Pew Research Center, from 2008 to 2011, more people claim to be Republicans, and Dems are losing in some ways and holding their own in others. Of course, 2008 was good for the right concerning elections. But turnout is way low for the Republican Primary, which has led to a Tea Party Evangelical favorite who has little mainstream appeal to surge these days. Consequently, Obama seems to be gaining in the polls.
Trends are that less education is associated with conservatism, so is religious affinity. And the converse is true as well.
What should we make of all this? Well, it all depends on what is important to the beholder.
If the bottom line is who gets elected President, then things look good for Obama right now.
If the bottom line is public opinion, then we are still factional and bitterly divided.
If the bottom line is getting the country to agree with you, then you are going to be frustrated. If you are liberal, you probably imagine this transformation through education. If you are conservative, you probably imagine this transformation through coercion. The latter ticks me off, and the former is really difficult.
Education is a funny thing. The liberals want to invest like crazy in it; it is the fundamental equalizer. The conservatives want to allow it to protect wealth and privilege, and maybe let some rare genius through. There are poor and ignorant people who just don’t get it; they reject the fabulous opportunity education does or should bring them. Many of the same people who do act likewise and vote against their own interests. I’m talking about poor people who vote for conservative ideals, against government assistance.
That last paragraph was not just rambling and incoherent thinking; it leads me to MY bottom line: How much can society improve itself? That is, are there people who will remain somehow lesser than others, no matter how much help they receive?
But this question of inequality brings me around to another way of looking at things. Status is in the eye of the beholder, too. I have a great deal of respect for some people who happen to have little money, but have plenty character. And I am quite ready to look down upon some pretty wealthy people for their lack of character. There may be some poor people who have really good reason to vote against their own financial interests, even their own morals. How much can we really understand others? Are the people who act differently really just being manipulated?