Non-Identifying Environmentalists And Liberals

According to Gallup, the percentage of Americans identifying as environmentalists is about half of what it was a quarter century ago, when I was a young teenager. Yet the other polls show that Americans are more concerned with environmental issues than ever before.

This is similar to how fewer Americans identify as liberal precisely during this time when polls showing majority of Americans hold liberal positions on diverse issues. Older labels have lost their former meaning. They no longer resonate.

It isn’t as if Americans are becoming anti-environmentalist conservatives. Quite the opposite. It’s just that an increasing number of Americans, when given a choice, would rather identify as progressive, moderate, independent, or even socialist. In fact, the socialist label gets more favorable opinion than the Tea Party label, although libertarianism is gaining favor.

Young Americans are the most liberal of any age demographic, in terms of their politics. They are more liberal than even the supposed liberal class, despite the young not self-identifying as liberal. They are so liberal as to be leaning leftist.

Conservatives are mistaken when they put too much stock in ideological labels and too little stock in substance of views. Their confusion is understandable. Many pollsters have had a hard time keeping up with changing labels, not initially realizing they needed to offer choices beyond the standard binary of liberal or conservative.

Not all of this can be blamed on pollsters, though. There was enough polling data to show major shifts were afoot. Some pollsters were able to discern that Millennials had a majority positive opinion of the ‘socialism’. That interesting fact of public opinion began showing up about a decade ago, but apparently few in the mainstream were paying attention until Sanders’ candidacy came along.

The older generations are shocked. As children of Cold War propaganda, they unsurprisingly have a knee jerk reaction to the word ‘socialism’. More interesting is that these older Americans also dislike libertarianism. For the young, socialism and libertarianism are two expressions of their growing extremes of liberal-mindedness.

So, it’s more of a divide of generations than of ideology.

Central to this are environmental concerns. Most older Americans probably assume they will die before major environmental catastrophes happen, allowing them to shut these problems out of their minds and pretend they aren’t fully real. Younger Americans, on the other hand, realize they’ll be forced to deal with these problems they’re inheriting.

* * *

Americans’ Identification as “Environmentalists” Down to 42%

Americans’ Concerns About Water Pollution Edge Up

U.S. Concern About Global Warming at Eight-Year High

For First Time, Majority in U.S. Oppose Nuclear Energy

Opposition to Fracking Mounts in the U.S.

In U.S., 73% Now Prioritize Alternative Energy Over Oil, Gas

Rasmussen & Gallup: Dishonesty & Disinformation

Voters Want Growth, Not Income Redistribution
A Commentary By Michael Barone

“He cites a recent Gallup poll showing that while 82 percent of Americans think it’s extremely or very important to “grow and expand the economy” and 70 percent say it’s similarly important to “increase equality of opportunity for people to get ahead,” only 46 percent say it’s important to “reduce the income and wealth gap between the rich and the poor,” and 54 percent say this is only somewhat or not important.”

This Rasmussen article is a simple but clear example of bad reporting, possibly intentionally misleading. Looking at the Gallup report, let me break it down:

First, reducing the income and wealth gap isn’t the same thing as redistributing wealth. The point is that the wealth was already redistributed which is why such a large and growing gap exists in the first place.

Second, it’s easy to manipulate the numbers. Why didn’t it get reported according to all Americans who support reducing the gap to some degree? 72% of Americans support it and only 28% are against it. This is either blatant dishonesty, propaganda even, or the person who wrote this is lacking in basic mental capacity.

Third, there is also the data about how many Americans support equalizing opportunity. The vast majority of Americans support this. This confirms the second point in that the gap of wealth can’t be reduced without reducing the gap of opportunity. The issue of redistributing wealth doesn’t even come up.

In addition, the Gallup report shares data on a related point. They put forth the following:

“Do you think the fact that some people in the United States are rich and others are poor . . . represents a problem that needs to be fixed or is an acceptable part of our economic system?”

The Gallup people are masters of propaganda. This is such a blatantly loaded question. Of course, there has always been poor people and rich people. Even in countries where wealth is spread very evenly, some people are relatively more poor and other relatively more rich. The issue isn’t the existence of a wealth gap per se, rather the existence of a large and growing wealth gap. I know the people working at Gallup know the difference. Their dishonesty is mind-blowing and heart-breaking.

I get so frustrated by this kind of thing. Instead of reporting on public opinion, Rasmussen and Gallup seeks to manipulate public opinion. I know Rasmussen has a conservative bias and apparently Gallup as well, but there is a big difference between a bias and outright dishonesty. Bias can be forgiven. Dishonesty, however, disqualifies an organization from being treated with respect. This makes all information from such an organization to be so untrustworthy as to be nearly worthless, except as being a comparison with more trustworthy sources.

“Political Winners” Circle Filled by Figures Close to Obama

“Political Winners” Circle Filled by Figures Close to Obama
Lydia Saad (Gallup)

This offers some useful insight.  It shows two things that I suspected.  The liberals are doing fairly well.  And the conservatives aren’t doing so well.

Here are the highlights:

  • “In Americans’ estimation, the top three political winners of 2009 are all women closely linked with the Obama administration: Michelle Obama, Hillary Clinton, and Sonia Sotomayor.”
  • President Barack Obama, himself, also falls in the political winners circle, although the percentage calling him a political loser is somewhat higher than is seen for the three women.”
  • “More than half [of all Americans identify as a political loser] the Republicans in Congress generally.”
  • “Nearly half of Americans (46%) call Sarah Palin a winner, but slightly more (49%) call her a loser.”
  • “About equal numbers of Americans call… radio talk host Glenn Beck winners and losers, while a large segment has no opinion…”
  • Democrats are much more unified in considering Michelle Obama, Hillary Clinton, and Barack Obama winners (each called a winner by at least 90% of Democrats) than Republicans are in calling Sarah Palin a winner (at 76% among Republicans).”
  • “Now that the presidential election in which the McCain-Palin ticket was defeated is more than a year past, Sarah Palin is nearly as likely to be viewed as a political winner as a loser. Hillary Clinton lost a bitterly fought primary for the 2008 Democratic presidential nomination, but has been visibly filling her role as Secretary of State and has risen above the political fray…”

Even Obama is maintaining a positive rating despite the economy and terrorism, but maybe the American public is smart enough to realize that you can’t blame a president in his first year for what he inherited from the previous administration.  Furthermore, considering the top three political winners, the Obama administration as a whole seems to be going above and beyond merely maintaining a positive rating.

I’m happy that the American public has been critical of Republicans in Congress.  They’ve been playing a game of deception and obstruction with the Obama administration.  They’ve been able to cause problems in the political arena, but it turns out the American public would at the moment prefer their politicians to be part of the solution rather than part of the problem.

Most interesting to me were the results about Sarah Palin and Glenn Beck.  I had my suspicions that these two weren’t as popular as the media sometimes portrayed them.  Yes, they have some very devoted followers who have been quite vocal with the Tea Party and all.  There, however, is no majority of favorable opinion about either.  Actually, more people view Palin unfavorably than favorably and a large segment couldn’t care less about Beck. 

I’ve always been of the opinion that the Tea Party has been overly hyped.  Beck may consider himself a populist (“We surround them.”) as the leader of the Tea Party, but the fact that the Tea Party was heavily promoted by Fox News proves it never was primarily a grassroots movement (rather, what is called Astroturf).  The anti-war movement during the Bush administration was way larger and more organized than the Tea Party could ever hope to be.  The anti-war movement accomplished that without support and promotion by a major political propaganda machine.  In fact, the anti-war movement accomplished that even while mostly being ignored by mainstream media in the US.

I should give the Tea Party some credit.  Surveys do seem to show that it is a popular movement, but that seems mainly because the Republican party at the moment is so unpopular.  The ex-Republicans have to go somewhere.  However, it’s important to point out that not all people in the Tea Party are ex-Republicans or necessarily even conservative.  Many are independents and libertarians who may or may not hold any allegiance to the conservative movement, and I’m sure many of these don’t consider Beck and Palin to be their leaders.

Even though I’m obviously critical of Beck, I should thank him.  It was his e-mail newsletter that notified me of the Gallup poll.

Gallup Polls On Religion

I just came across a short article from UPI.com: Gallup poll: Religion, intolerance related.  It doesn’t go into much detail but points to some correlations.

The polls found that religion is less likely to be important to residents of rich countries, who are also more likely to be tolerant. But Gallup said the greater intolerance reported in religious countries cannot be explained just by differences in income.

Gallup analysts also said there are large differences among the world’s religions. Hindus are the least likely to perceive their countries as bad places for members of ethnic or religious minorities, while Jews are the most likely.

Christians also appear to be generally tolerant of minorities, while Muslims, Buddhists and Jews are not. Both Muslims and Jews in Israel appear far less tolerant than co-religionists living elsewhere.

This is the kind of information that is needed.  It’s politically incorrect to point out that not all religions are equal in all ways.  This is where a theoretical context is necessary.  Ken Wilber developed his Integral theory in order to make intelligent distinctions and understand the relationship between diverse factors.  Wilber says that not all religions are equal, but he also says that no one is stupid enough to be wrong all of the time.  It’s important to separate what is true from what is false, what is good from what is not so good.

Wilber favors Eastern meditation traditions, but this Gallup poll shows that there are distinctions.  Buddhism is popular in the US and yet Buddhism apparently is less tolerant of minorities than Hinduism.  This makes sense in that Hinduism seems very embracing of diversity.

To understand this poll data, further research would be necessary.  The type of research that I’m thinking of is something like Spiral Dynamics which is used by Wilber.  Spiral Dynamics is a model that clarifies the social development of values and how the different phases of development relate.  Another kind of research that would be helpful would be personality traits such as the Big 5.  Certain traits such as Openness would probably have direct correlation to tolerance.  Also, a different trait theory is boundary types.  Thin boundary types are more accepting of new experience.  Cultures encourage and discourage particular traits.  Both Spiral Dynamics and traits theories have been applied to various cultures, and it would be interesting to correlate the research of these with this Gallup poll.

On a related note, here is an article about Islamic Anti-Americanism.  The author discusses an earlier Gallup poll.  I only skimmed it, but it looks interesting.