Recent surveys have found that America is becoming more socially liberal - a reality lost on the Republican Party as it remains in a Fox News/Rush Limbaugh bubble. For Democrats, its likely a positive development because by remaining slavish political whores of the Christofascists, the GOP will drive away more and more voters who simply are over the GOP's embrace of ignorance (and racism and general bigotry). The growing acceptance of gays is only part of the phenomenon as more Americans walk away from religion entirely. A column in the New York Times looks at the issue. Here are excerpts:
There is a fascinating phenomenon taking shape in America: As the country becomes less religious, it is also becoming more socially liberal.It makes sense that these two variables should closely track each other, but the sheer scale and speed of the change is astonishing.After a Pew Research Center report earlier this month found that “the Christian share of the U.S. population is declining, while the number of U.S. adults who do not identify with any organized religion is growing,” this week Gallup released a report that found that “more Americans now rate themselves as socially liberal than at any point in Gallup’s 16-year trend, and for the first time, as many say they are liberal on social issues as say they are conservative.”Gallup found this week:“The upward progression in the percentage of Americans seeing these issues as morally acceptable has varied from year to year, but the overall trend clearly points toward a higher level of acceptance of a number of behaviors. In fact, the moral acceptability ratings for 10 of the issues measured since the early 2000s are at record highs.”Acceptance of gay or lesbian relations is up 23 percentage points over that time. Having a baby outside of marriage is up 16 points. Premarital sex is up 15 points. Divorce and research using stem cells obtained from human embryos are both up 12 points.At the same time, the death penalty is down three points (within the four-point margin of error) and medical testing on animals is down nine points.This change poses a particular challenge for the Republican Party and its national aspirations, not so much at the congressional seats, many of which are safe, but for presidential candidates.Part of the issue, as the likely candidate Jeb Bush put it last year, is that for a Republican to become president, he or she would have to be willing to “lose the primary to win the general” election.It was a catchy phrase and everyone understood what he was saying: Don’t allow the Republican debates and primaries to drag you so far right that you will never be able to recover in the general election. But the problem is that there is no way to compete in the general without first winning the primaries securing the nomination.Republicans are now involved in another election season that feels like the movie “Groundhog Day”: trying to out-conservative one another to be in the good graces of Republican primary voters, who in many states can be disproportionately religious and socially conservative.Iowa and New Hampshire would be only the first two of a 50-state slog through a Republican electorate that is not necessarily where the rest of the country is — or is going — on religiosity and social liberalism.There is only so much skipping one can do. At some point, the candidates must face the most conservative voters and one voice must emerge.This process has not been kind or general-election-friendly for the Republican candidates in the last couple of cycles. But there is no indication that most Republicans — either candidates or voters — have drawn the necessary lessons from those defeats.