The United States is becoming a more liberal country than ever at the current moment, and this is not surprising at all.
A recent study published by the Pew Research Center found that highly educated democrats are abundantly more liberal than less educated members of the party. The study is clear in that this does not mean less educated democrats are moving closer to center; they are still becoming more liberal, but at a slower rate. So what can we infer by this new data? Why are more educated democrats becoming more liberal? The study does not pose any answer as to why this is happening, but the following paragraphs will provide reasoning and conjecture behind this shift. This inference is purely based off of correlation, but as the US has become abundantly more progressive in recent years, so this synthesis is logical.
Completing postsecondary and postgraduate education fosters a level of critical thought at arguably the most vital time in a person’s life: around the ages of 20-25, our brains are near full development, we are deciding what we want to dedicate our life too, and most importantly, we decide intrinsically what kind of person we want to become. The ability to vote also gives our opinions a new level of meaning.
By completing higher education, individuals begin utilizing their newfound abilities to analyze social issues at a much deeper level than those who do not complete this education. At the surface of many social issues, it can be simple to come to a certain synthesis without fully gathering all of the details.
Conservative viewpoints have a tendency to take the stance of arguing for a certain goal without fully acknowledging the outcomes. Take tax cuts for example, many conservatives are highly in favor of cutting taxes, yet fail to realize that if we cut taxes, eventually we will have to burden our children or grandchildren with tax hikes. If we look at the actual causation deeper, lowering taxes does not seem as appealing as originally. This is but one example, but conventional conservative views on other issues such as gay marriage, welfare, privatized health care, climate change, etc: are all vastly short-sided in their rationale, and nowadays it is increasingly harder to back up this illogical rhetoric.
Liberal viewpoints operate inversely to conservative ones in that initially may not appear attractive, but deeper research unveils some true benefit. As the case with programs like welfare or single-payer healthcare: a common conservative argument is that people need not to rely on others to take care of them, but they must work hard and take care of their own necessities. This argument is incredibly reasonable, but deeper research shows that many of these impoverished individuals are burdened with certain circumstances, which inhibit them from achieving this simple idea.
People who have completed a postgraduate education are arguably the most enlightened individuals around. This wisdom allows them to look beyond potentially self-serving ideologies or shallow ideals, and reason leads them to the most fitting belief. This is not any new idea either, a 2005 study by political science professors Stanley Rothman of Smith College and Neil Nevitte of the University of Toronto found that university educators are overwhelmingly liberal as well. Especially at Ivy-League institutions, where 87% of faculty were found to be liberal. With this, the strong correlation between higher education and liberal viewpoints is increasingly apparent.
The rise technology and sophistication have also benefited those with higher education. Research into happiness and well-being can be very telling into the efficacy of certain public policies. It is now generally understood that egalitarian societies take much more care of their citizens, poverty lines are lower, university participation is higher, and overall well-being is much happier in these countries. The US’s reliance on capitalism, despite its benefits, has largely turned its back on those that are less fortunate. As Harry Truman proposed universal health care back in the 1940s, private insurance organizations lobbied heavily against this to protect their business. These capitalistic motivations, which have played a detriment to the masses of society, have occurred regularly in the US throughout the years. I am not arguing against capitalism, but I do believe that our indifference to regulate it has caused a number of issues.
It is not to say democrats are solely becoming more liberal, this same study by the Pew Research Center found that young conservatives are significantly more moderate than their older counterparts, and many other studies have confirmed this as well.
This article is not about attacking one political party or championing another. It is just simply showing that the United States as a whole is becoming more liberal, and it is logical as to why. There is certainly no financial benefit for taking on these beliefs. We are moving towards a more liberal society because it is one that focuses on the well-being of all of its citizens. We know that developing a social safety net, which is a cornerstone belief for the highly liberal, allows people to fall back should they find themselves in harsh financial times. This fosters a sense of relief and encourages well-being for all.