When Push Comes to Poll...
September 19, 2012 - Wednesday
You don't have to tell us how important values are to this election! And from the looks of our standing room-only crowd last weekend, you don't need to tell most Americans. The media, on the other hand, could use a reminder. And in John Zogby's latest commentary, they get exactly that. A world-renowned pollster, Zogby takes a break from the presidential race this week to analyze what's really fueling voters. His conclusion? "It's not only the economy, stupid." Voters, Zogby points out, are never one-dimensional in picking a candidate. "Even when the economy is bad, voters are ultimately deciding on their hopes and dreams, both for the present and for their children's future. Thus, if it is about anything, voting is about values, about principles that we hold closest to our hearts."
No election was a better example of this than 2004's. Zogby himself had surveyed the country in 2003 and noticed the deep divides. His poll of "red" and "blue" states shocked even the veteran statistician. "What was remarkable to me was actually how different the reds and blues were. In red states, 61% of voters owned a gun; only 36% in blue states. Most voters believed in God, but in the red states, three in four identified their God as omniscient and omnipresent, while 51% of blues saw God primarily as The Watchmaker. Voters were 9 points more likely to be single and never married if they lived in a blue state."
In recent days, Americans still strongly disagree about everything from the economy and immigration to exceptionalism and the role of government. But there is one area that continues to find a majority consensus: the definition of the family structure. Of all the policy areas that Zogby tested this month, more people were united on marriage than any other subject. There is "no doubt," John writes, "Americans prefer the traditional family as the ideal--with 51% [to 40%] agreeing with [this statement]... The family is the basis of a strong community and culture. The ideal family is built around a stable marriage between a man and a woman."
Let's hope the candidates are paying attention. John Zogby would be the first to tell them that values don't have to be the divisive issues of the election--but they could very well be the decisive ones.
Military Looks for a Suicide Balm
There are already too many casualties in our military without having to deal with suicides in the ranks. Yet, as Defense Secretary Leon Panetta shared this week, the number of troops taking their own lives is not only growing--it's epidemic. According to the Pentagon, this will be a record year of suicides among active-duty troops, with an average of 33 men and women ending their lives every month. And while the Pentagon insists it will pursue every solution to stem the tide, not one person has suggested a fundamental starting point, which is restoring faith to its place of prominence in our military.
The Pentagon can dispute the role of religion in the military all it wants--but it cannot dispute the positive effects religion has on a person's life. Study after study shows that men and women who have a vibrant faith experience less stress and depression. In fact, FRC's Dr. Pat Fagan points out, "People who are frequently involved in religious activities and highly value their religious faith are at a reduced risk for depression, according to a review of more than 100 studies. This review also found that 87 percent of the studies surveyed concluded that religious practice correlates with reduced incidence of suicide. Conversely, a lack of religious affiliation correlates with an increased risk of suicide."
Obviously, religion is not the remedy every ill, but it is, as President Franklin Roosevelt wrote in the front of the Armed Forces' Gideons Bibles, "a fountain of strength, and now, as always, an aid." Months before the start of World War II, President Roosevelt commended to our troops the reading of Scripture. Today, military leaders like General Norman Schwartz are not only indifferent about religion--but hostile to it. Leaders, Panetta said, "ought to be judged by how they lead on this issue." Yet in the same breath, he gives license to men like Schwartz, who would penalize commanders who take steps to promote religion--ignoring the courage and solace our service members derive from it. In my opinion, that's disingenuous. On one hand, the Pentagon says that "we have to do everything possible" to prevent these tragedies, and on the other it seems to be systematically uprooting one of our troops' greatest sources of encouragement: orthodox Christianity.
Is religion a military cure-all? Of course not. But it can--and does--help counteract the stress of life and combat situations. Unfortunately, this administration seems utterly indifferent to the fact that driving faith out only invites more problems in.
Students Go the Eggs-tra Mile for Tuition Money
Paying for college has never been easy. But these days, young people are resorting to some unconventional and dangerous avenues to cover their tuition. In a shocking new article on CNN, students admit to egg and sperm donation, medical experiments--even pawn shops--to find the money for their education. Some are even selling their bodies on online dating services for a chance at a higher degree. "One 21-year-old student said she receives a monthly allowance from a 37-year-old 'sugar daddy' she met through an online dating site... In exchange for her company, she says her sugar daddy has been making her full tuition payments..." The article claims that 350,000 young women are prostituting themselves on this one site. There has to be a better way to pay for college!
Next week, FRC's experts will try to find one as we host the discussion "Save Me from College Debt: Understanding and Avoiding the College Debt Tsunami." Together with our own Dr. Chris Gacek, Dr. Andrew Gillen of American Council of Trustees and Alumni and Sonphia Ephraim of Haven Financial Counseling Services will explore ways for students to reach their dreams without bankrupting their future. Where do we go from here at the policy level and in our personal financial planning? Find out at noon on September 27 at FRC headquarters (801 G Street, NW, Washington, D.C.). To register to watch either in-person or via live webcast, click here.