It was nice to take a little break from the news, I have to admit. To get us all back into the swing of things, I’ll start with some good news. Mr. Furious directed me to an article by Leonard Steinhorn at Salon (you may need to watch an ad to read it) that takes a look at the hope for progressiveness’ future. Apparently, when all the old fogies die, things will start looking up:

How little the "moral values" voter represents the future is evident in surveys of today's youth, who may be the most inclusive, tolerant and socially liberal generation in our nation's history. From the media we hear all about the controversies of the so-called culture war, such as the occasional school superintendent who shuts down all school clubs to keep gay and straight high school students from forming "gay-straight" clubs. But what we don't hear is that these clubs have quietly formed in about 2,800 schools nationwide. In fact, research on young people confirms that they have little patience for intolerance, that they have no problem accepting homosexuality, that most even support the right of gay people to marry.

Indeed, today's youth reject many of the social rigidities, prejudices and orthodoxies of old. As many as half of all teens say they've dated across racial or ethnic lines, including more than a third of white teens, and most of these are "serious" relationships. On race, homosexuality, premarital sex, gender roles, the environment and issues involving personal choice and freedom, younger Americans consistently fall on the liberal and more tolerant side of the spectrum.

If younger voters were the only ones with these attitudes, social conservatives might be able to lay claim to a "moral values" mandate for a very long time. But younger voters represent the mainstream much more than the initial exit polling would indicate. The illusion of a predominant "moral values" voting bloc has much to do with the fact that the most traditional and socially conservative Americans, pre-baby boomers, are living much longer lives and voting in very large numbers -- skewing exit polls and thus our image of the mainstream. Once younger voters begin to replace them, the socially conservative vote will return to the margins of American life.
I would have liked to see Steinhorn address in some way the tendency for people to trend conservative as they age, although perhaps that’s simply not quantifiable.

And, although Churchill famously said (to paraphrase) if you’re not a liberal at 20 then you don’t have a heart, and if you’re not a conservative at 40 then you don’t have a brain, I wonder is it really that people’s views change, or is it that the world changes, and someone who seems a liberal by 2004 standards will seem a conservative by 2024 standards? Hopefully, it’s a combination of the two, as neither option seems very attractive. I’d like to think that my views will change to reflect a world that is changing.

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