In a just-released study by the Pew Charitable Trust about trends in political values and core attitudes the numbers show that the electorate is gradually getting fed up with socially conservative ideology and religious intensity.
The numbers are quite clear:
- Government should care for those who can't care for themselves - up 12% to 69%
- Government should help the needy even if it means greater debt - up 13% to 54%
- Old fashioned values about family and marriage - down 8% to 76%
- School boards should have the right to fire homosexual teachers - down 11% to 28%
- Prayer is an important part of my daily life - down 7% to 45%
- I never doubt the existence of God - down 11% to 61%
- People believe that the rich are getting richer and the poor poorer - up 8% to 73%
- Americans feel increasingly estranged from their government. Barely a third (34%) agree with the statement, "most elected officials care what people like me think," nearly matching the 20-year low of 33% recorded in 1994 and a 10-point drop since 2002.
- The public is losing confidence in itself. A dwindling majority (57%) say they have a good deal of confidence in the wisdom of the American people when it comes to making political decisions. Similarly, the proportion who agrees that Americans "can always find a way to solve our problems" has dropped 16 points in the past five years.
- Young people continue to hold a more favorable view of government than do other Americans. At the same time, young adults express the least interest in voting and other forms of political participation.
Increased public support for the social safety net, signs of growing public concern about income inequality, and a diminished appetite for assertive national security policies have improved the political landscape for the Democrats as the 2008 presidential campaign gets underway.I am heartened by this information. It correlates to my intuition, observations and other resources. And it bodes well for Democrats in the next election unless we shoot ourselves in the foot like we've done so many times before.
We all have the right to hope (so long as we are active in the pursuit of our goals).