ABC News reported the results of an interesting public opinion survey yesterday, finding among other things that 70% of all adults oppose affirmative action, while 57% support gay/lesbian marriage, and 63% are in favor of granting such couples the same federal benefits as other marrieds. These results aren't particularly surprising, though I suspect they may be surprising to some who are on the opposite side of those questions.
Equally unsurprising, but more interesting, are the breakdowns provided by youth on the latter two questions, with younger people on the whole much more "in favor" than older folks, and all three race groups about equally opposed to affirmative action on university applications. I find myself with the majority in all three cases. Does that mean I'm an African-American 25-year-old? It doesn't.
It might mean, though, that I'm really a child of the 1960s. In my observation the liberalization of social attitudes in the U.S. has grown steadily since that decade of rebellion. I wouldn't call myself a rebel, far from it, yet no doubt my own opinions have been shaped by that environment. In the 60s the issues were broader: Desegregation and racial equality then, vs. a sub-element of the same big cluster -- affirmative action -- now. There have been bumps and setbacks in the trend, but it persists, and its future continuation seems assured when we look at the different views of young people versus older ones.
There are those in the country who still hope to reverse the trend, and return to the 1950s. Evidently they are the ones who DO need a weatherman to tell which way the wind blows.