Wednesday, August 09, 2006

The Overblown Culture War

I've said for years that the notion of a divided America is nothing more than hype -- while there is an enormous amount of hot air expended over so-called hot button issues, most Americans don't fall into one camp or the other.

My theory is that we are not a nation that can be easily pigeonholed as Red State vs. Blue State, left vs. right, Democrat vs. Republican, Label One vs. Label Two. Sure, you have a very loud 10% on one side trying to shout down the very loud 10% on the other side, but the other 80% of us refuse to fall into convenient categories and labels.

The Pew Research Center has just released a poll of 2,003 American adults which backs up my argument. It shows that on supposedly defining issues like abortion, gay marriage, and stem cell research, most Americans do not take consistent stances. On some, they lean one way; on others, they lean the other way, according to the study:

"Despite talk of 'culture wars' and the high visibility of activist groups on both sides of the cultural divide, there has been no polarization of the public into liberal and conservative camps."
We are the Great American Middle (and not just geographically), regardless of what politicos, pundits, and special interest groups would have you believe.

The truth is that the average American is more concerned about how much it costs to fill their gas tank, whether there's enough time in their day to get through traffic and still get their kids to soccer practice on time, whether that kid is going to a good safe school, what might happen on their favorite TV show tonight, and whether the next storm might knock out their electricity again.

Unfortunately, talking about those issues won't get you elected in this country.

Or would it? I've yet to see a politician try, making an effort to relate to real people and what they honestly worry about. It all seems too mundane in the world of power and ego.

I'm not saying that social issues aren't anywhere on America's radar, I'm just saying they're not as high on the priority list as the news media (both mainstream and blogosphere) and political propagandists insist they are.