The Washington Post reported that the political ideologies of most Americans have taken a liberal, progressive turn. The last time that a Democratic president was elected in two, consecutive elections after winning more than 50 percent of the vote was for Franklin Delano Roosevelt.
The report indicates that diversity of American voters is growing. This diversity creates a proportionately smaller number of white voters, which is the majority of the conservative Republican base. The “minority” vote; including blacks, hispanics, women, and gays, usually leans more liberally, and that growing diversity correlates with more progressive voting attitudes. The American, majority opinion is ultimately affected.
Studies indicate that these shifting attitudes occur across various issues; from the economy to issues considered to be on the fringe, like legal marijuana.
Although Wall Street has never been America’s sweetheart, Americans’ confidence in corporate America has drastically decreased in recent decades. In the 1970s, just over 40 percent of Americans said that they had “a great deal” of confidence in Wall Street. About 40 years and one Great Recession later, only 11 percent of Americans feel that way. Recent surveys now indicate that most Americans favor Wall Street regulation and reform.
The Center for Responsible Lending and Americans for Financial Reform Financial Reform released a joint study that surveyed American voters’ opinion of the country’s financial system. About 93 percent of those surveyed said that Wall Street regulation was important, with only a small variation of opinion between Democrat (96 percent) and Republican (89 percent) samples.
Americans also have a favorable opinion of the Wall Street federal watchdog group, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB). When asked who they trusted more to ensure fair services and products for consumers, the CFPB enjoyed 53 percent of the voters’ trust. Only 18 percent said they trust banks and credit card companies.
Conservatives on Capitol Hill have long opposed raising the federal minimum wage, arguing that it could damage employment despite little or no evidence backing their opinion. The Miller-Harkin bill was designed to raise the federal minimum wage from $7.25 an hour to $10.10 an hour and has received support from the White House and Congressional Democrats. When American voters were asked their opinion, 63 percent said they support the Miller-Harkin bill.
Gay marriage support has experienced a steady increase, especially since the mid-90s. According to a Gallup survey, voters who think that gay marriage should be lawfully recognized increased from 27 percent in 1996 to 54 percent in 2013. That July, when the survey was conducted, Gallup used two different approaches in the survey and only saw a -2 percent difference in the results.
This small deviation indicates that the majority is very certain of their opinion regarding gay marriage. And federal court have been increasingly overturning state gay marriage bans, more recently recognizing gay marriage in the conservative states of Utah and Oklahoma. However, there has been some legal waffling on gay marriage recognition in Utah in recent days.
But the issue that has the highest turnaround in opinion is marijuana legalization. Since the 1930s and the appointment of drug czar Harry Anslinger, fake studies, scare stories, and propaganda demonized marijuana. In 1969, only 12 percent of Americans thought marijuana should be legalized. In 2013, 58 percent of Americans polled in favor of marijuana legalization.
Gallup attributed this increased acceptance to in-depth studies and widespread knowledge about the medical uses of the plant. Dozens of states have either decriminalized marijuana or legalized it for medical use. Washington and Colorado have fully legalized marijuana, permitting its recreational use.
These progressive ideologies are mostly those of the younger generation. If current trends continue, then the once minority, liberal opinions of Americans should become the majority. This growth should slowly, but surely, drown out the conservative, Republican opinions and policies that have slowed the country’s progress in implementing effective, and sensical, laws and policies.