Wednesday, June 06, 2007

The Liberal - Conservative Gap

I recently received an email link to a Gallup survey that focused on American attitudes towards various social issues. While I encourage you to go look for yourself, it was the liberal / conservative gap between these issues that really focused my attention. For example, liberals approve of the following social issues over conservatives by anywhere from 20 to to 60%:

Homosexual relations
Sex between an unmarried man and woman
Having a baby outside of marriage
Doctor-assisted suicide
Medical research using stem cells obtained from human embryos
Cloning animals

Liberals approve of the following over conservatives by anywhere between 10 and 16%:

Cloning humans
Polygamy, when one husband has more than one wife at the same time
Married men and women having an affair

Uh, why am I conservative again? Oh, that's right...


Eric Stoller said...

Just to clarify, does this mean then that you do not approve of any of the issues on this list?

radar said...

Oh, I wouldn't say that I've made up my mind outright about all of these issues, but I find it very interesting alone (as is the reason for the post) that liberals approve of things like divorce (38% more), abortion (43% more) and suicide (21% more) that much more than conservatives. Interesting indeed.

Eric Stoller said...

I can understand the stats on abortion and divorce. However, the difference on suicide is definitely interesting. I wish the Gallup folks had provided more information on their survey methods.

Also, I'm glad that you did not state that you did not approve of homosexual relations.

That would have signaled to me that you did not value the dignity/existence of LGBT folks which would have been most upsetting given your current position as a university administrator.

radar said...

Is that a threat? I certainly have the ability to hold my own opinions on social matters regardless of my position within a university. It's interesting that you yourself surely are totally unable to support a conservative student based on your own political leanings.

Not to mention that there are more important issues in this world other than ones that concern homosexuals. You seem to be a tad obsessed.

Eric Stoller said...

Professionally and personally I am able to support the dignity of everyone that I interact with via compassion and charity. It is difficult to work with folks who seem to relish in maiming the dignity of others. It requires a lot of realization that my own self-awareness and identity has grown a lot since I left a small town in rural Iowa and that I was not always philosophically and practically grounded in social justice.

My comment was truly based in gladness. It was reassuring to me that you are able to work with all students regardless of your personal views.

I am indeed obsessed with furthering social justice oriented dialogues. I love talking to heterosexual folks who have not made up their mind about homosexual relations.

Do you regularly interact with openly gay or out students in your office/department? I wonder if they knew your personal views how that would affect that interaction (if it occurs at all...)?


Michelle said...

A couple of things:
1. It would be interesting to know what percentages of respondents identified as liberal, moderate, and conservative. My understanding is that there are a small percentage of people who identify strongly with either polarity, with most people somewhere in the middle, which would make a very big difference in the interpretation of these figures.
2. It is significant that the respondents' choices were 'morally right' and 'morally wrong;' though a few people did volunteer alternate answers, providing 'not a moral issue' as an option would give a more nuanced picture of what people really think. For example, a fundamental religious person might very well hold the position that homosexuality is immoral but simultaneously recognize the legitimacy of same-sex partnership legal rights. Or hold abortion to be morally wrong but also support it as a woman's legal right.

radar said...

Compassion and charity? Are you writing a Hallmark card? Eric, you are more obsessed with finding out who I am than ever actually understanding why I believe what I believe. My personal disapproval for homosexual acts and lifestyles does not negate my ability to work with homosexual students any more than your disapproval of conservatives and conservative viewpoints negates your ability to work with conservative or Christian students, right? Your hiding behind social justice allows you to never truly research or attempt to understand that with which you disagree. Do you interact with openly conservative students, or do any such students attend Oregon State? Or maybe conservative students tend to avoid you. I wonder why - maybe because you think them to be regressive simpletons needing their eyes opened to the glorious righteousness of a "progressive" (liberal) social order.

On one final note, I appreciate your interest in my blog. However, if you don't have anything new or unique to contribute feel free to frequent another site. Reading your posts is similar to my previous two years in a graduate program - a world filled with only social forces controlling our destinies while ignoring human agency and personal responsibility. If you do choose to respond, I ask you to ponder this (you wouldn't have learned it in graduate school):

“See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ.”

Colossians 2:8

radar said...

Michelle - interesting. I must admit that I find it hard to believe that a person who finds homosexuality or abortion morally wrong could support either of them based on... anything. Seems a bit contradictory to me.

Dennis said...


Isn't it a bit disingenuous on your part to say that liberals are in favor of suicide (wasn't it actually physician-assisted suicide?). According to the survey, liberals still overwhelmingly believed that suicide is immoral. Wouldn't that be the same as indicting conservatives as pro-killing because they are more in favor of capital punishment than liberals?

It never ceases to amaze me how small-government, fiscal conservatives are so interested in enlarging government's sphere of influence on social issues while arguing that government has a limited (or no) role to play in markets or in providing a social safety net for the working poor.

It appears that you're arguing that government is smarter than its citizens when it comes to matters of conscience, but (a la Ronald Reagan) that government is inferior when it comes to actually providing an economic infrastructure for the same citizens.

I'm curious how you resolve the apparent contradiction. Isn't it possible that so-called liberals are actually saying that it's moral for people to make their own decisions about whether or not to stay in or leave a marriage, to choose whom they sleep with, or to decide when to consult a physician about when it's time to end their lives when they're terminally ill?

Why are conservatives so concerned about the choices that their neighbors make? Isn't scripture clear that none of us (save God) is qualified to make those judgments? Who of us, after all, is without sin? And given that, who are we to cast stones?

And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother's eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?

Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam [is] in thine own eye?

Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother's eye.
(Matt 7:3-5)

radar said...


Very true, however I don't see that I am making any contradiction. I think you're confusing libertarianism and conservativism. I may support small government and free market capitalism, but I don't see my support for socially conservative issues as matters that help expand government reach. Overturning Roe vs. Wade and allowing the states to make that decision, or outlawing doctor-assisted suicide doesn't, from my perspective, expand the government's reach.

And believe me, I am not judging anything or anyone, but thanks for the verse.

Eric Stoller said...

Compassion and charity are part of my life philosophy. I hope that relating those facets of who I am to the writings in a Hallmark Card is some sort of bizarre compliment? Otherwise, I am unsure as to why you would diminish my personal stance with regards to compassion and charity.

I read your blog because I enjoy reading perspectives that differ from my own. Since you are a student affairs practitioner I enjoy seeing your take on the world via your site.

You are correct when you say that I want to know who you are...but let me be more specific. I want to know what the experiences of a conservative student affairs practitioner are like and how your identity plays into student interactions.

As to your identity, quick searches on Google, the Miami of Ohio site, and the Iowa State University student newspaper give a pretty good picture as to your name. I was a little disappointed when you would not friend me on Facebook.

Also, I am friends with a lot of people who self-identify as conservative. They know that I value them as human beings who live, breathe, dream, have hopes, etc. They also know that I do not value or validate views which seek to maim the dignity of folks in marginalized groups.

There are a lot of openly conservative students at Oregon State University. I have had the pleasure of a variety of interactions with students who identify as conservative. In the classroom, meetings, via email, in informal conversations, etc. I don't feel that students that identify as conservative are simpletons.

I'm not sure how I am "hiding behind social justice." My identity is in the public sphere. I blog at I grew up in a conservative environment and attended church every Sunday. I'd say I have about 20 years of conservative/Christian experiences.

How do you know what I learned or did not learn in graduate school? We went to two completely different programs in two different states.

I am glad that you appreciate my interest in your blog.


radar said...

I'm disappointed that you didn't ponder the verse and respond. Oh, well...

Eric Stoller said...

I read the verse. I've read it several times. I wonder if you believe that social justice is hollow and deceptive? What meaning did you want me to infer from the verse?

I do not feel that compassion and charity are "hollow and deceptive" philosophies...

radar said...

Maybe the second half of the verse is what you should pay attention to. You'll get it...

Anonymous said...

I am reading this article second time today, you have to be more careful with content leakers. If I will fount it again I will send you a link