Americans say they are more tolerant and open-minded than their parents. Among the issues that rate more morally acceptable today than a decade ago: homosexuality, human cloning, pre-marital sex, and having a child out of wedlock. At the same time, half believe the economic system is unfair to middle- and working-class Americans, and only 17 percent believe Wall Street executives share fundamental American values. In all, two-thirds think the country is heading in the wrong direction, 69 percent believe the country's values have deteriorated since the 1970s, and nearly half say values will further weaken over the next 10 years.
Such are the highlights of The Atlantic/Aspen Institute American Values Survey. Elsewhere on the site, pollster Mark Penn provides a full analysis of the survey, which was conducted by his firm, Penn Schoen Berland. Below, a brief summary in charts:
Two-thirds of those surveyed say the country is heading in the wrong direction ...
... 7 in 10 say people's values have been getting worse in America ...
... and nearly half expect American values to weaken over the next decade.
Americans are split over whether their values are stronger or weaker than the rest of the world's ...
... while freedom of speech and freedom of religion are cited as the top examples of America's superior values compared to other places in the world.
The influence of religion on American life is decreasing.
11 percent of Americans don't believe in God ...
... half seldom or never attend church ...
... but religion is still important to half of all Americans.
Most Americans say they are more open and tolerant than their parents.
Two-thirds of Americans think the U.S. economy is on the wrong track ...
... and half think the economic system is unfair to middle- and working-class people.
6 in 10 Americans believe budget deficits undermine American values ...
... and more than half would raise taxes on the wealthy and businesses.
Only 17 percent think Wall Street executives share America's fundamental values ...
... and of those who say Wall Street values are different, 9 in 10 say they are worse.
7 in 10 believe elected officials reflect mainly the values of the wealthy ...
... and Americans are broadly united in their belief that money and lobbyists have too much influence in politics.
More than half do not expect their personal information to be private when they use social media ...
... though Americans are more worried about government knowing their personal lives than about about private companies.
Finally, more than three-quarters of Americans believe people are typically motivated by self-interest -- and just 20 percent believe them to be generally altruistic.
Bob Cohn is the president of The Atlantic. He oversees the magazine's business and editorial teams on its principal platforms: print, digital, video, live events, and consulting. He was named to the job in 2014 after serving five years as editor of Atlantic Digital, where he built and managed teams at TheAtlantic.com, The Wire, and CityLab, growing TheAtlantic.com's audience ten-fold.
Conservatives once warned that Obamacare would produce the Democratic Waterloo. Their inability to accept the principle of universal coverage has, instead, led to their own defeat.
Seven years and three days ago, the House of Representatives grumblingly voted to approve the Senate’s version of the Affordable Care Act. Democrats in the House were displeased by many of the changes introduced by Senate Democrats. But in the interval after Senate passage, the Republicans had gained a 41st seat in the Senate. Any further tinkering with the law could trigger a Republican filibuster. Rather than lose the whole thing, the House swallowed hard and accepted a bill that liberals regarded as a giveaway to insurance companies and other interest groups. The finished law proceeded to President Obama for signature on March 23, 2010.
A few minutes after the House vote, I wrote a short blog post for the website I edited in those days. The site had been founded early in 2009 to argue for a more modern and more moderate form of Republicanism. The timing could not have been worse. At precisely the moment we were urging the GOP to march in one direction, the great mass of conservatives and Republicans had turned on the double in the other, toward an ever more wild and even paranoid extremism. Those were the days of Glenn Beck’s 5 o’clock Fox News conspiracy rants, of Sarah Palin’s “death panels,” of Orly Taitz and her fellow Birthers, of Tea Party rallies at which men openly brandished assault rifles.
A California company makes weed vaporizers to suit every mood—here’s what happened when I tried them.
I’d been traveling for work—to Europe then to Asia then to Europe again while pinging back-and-forth from L.A. to New York. For months my carryon contained the sneakers that I didn’t use in the hotel gyms I never visited. I was exhausted to the brink of tears since previous to this spate of travel. I had a schedule so rote I could give myself jetlag by sliding lunch up half an hour.
I’d gone straight to the weed store from LAX—ragged—trundling my suitcase past the spangly Turkish restaurant with the outline of a hookah on the sign, ducking into the alleyway with the Thai massage parlor on one end and my dispensary on the other. On the inside the shop looks like a cross between an Apple flagship and a Danish lighting boutique except there’s a security guard with a gun and a brown-haired girl who checks your I.D. and card and buzzes you through.
The ways some “healthy voice hearers” cope might be able to help people with psychotic disorders.
Jessica Dorner was lying in bed at her cousin’s house when her grandmother, a “pushy lady” in an apron who had been dead for several years, appeared in front of her. “I know you can see me,” Jessica heard her say, “and you need to do something about it.”
It was a lonely time in Jessica’s life. She was living away from home for the first time, and she thinks her grandmother was drawn by some sense of that. She eventually told her parents what happened, and according to her they were concerned, but not overly panicked. “My parents are probably the least judgmental people I know,” she said.
As Jessica tells it, over the next two years, spirits visited her every now and again. Her brother-in-law’s deceased father began forming before her, ghostlike, just as her grandmother did. And while the experiences were intense and at times made her feel “crazy,” she said, they were infrequent, and insists that they were never a real source of suffering.
And other tales from the intersection of science and airport security
When Martin Cohn passed through airport security at Ronald Reagan Airport, he figured that he’d probably get some questions about the 3-D-printed model of a mouse penis in his bag.
The model is 15 centimeters long, made of clear translucent plastic, and indisputably phallic— like the dismembered member of some monstrous, transparent, 11-foot rodent. One of Cohn’s colleagues had already been questioned about it when she carried it on an outward flight from Gainesville to Washington D.C. She put it through the security scanner, and the bag got pulled. A TSA official looked inside, winked at her, and let her go. She was amused but embarrassed, so Cohn offered to take the model home on the return flight.
Adam Hamilton takes on controversial social issues from the pulpit, challenging his politically divided congregation to find common ground.
A recent study found that Methodism is one of America’s most politically divided denominations, with both congregants and their pastors roughly split between the Democratic and Republican Parties. That makes rising partisanship a particular challenge for pastors like Adam Hamilton, of the Church of the Resurrection in Kansas City. He estimates his congregants are perhaps 60 percent Republicans, and 40 percent Democrats—slightly more liberal than the communities from which they’re drawn, but still a decidedly red-state congregation. And, he argues, it gives the ways in which he navigates those tensions broader import.
Hamilton wanted to challenge his congregants to address pressing social challenges, despite their partisan divisions. “I’d like for them to look at the news every day, and think: ‘I wonder how the Gospel calls me to respond to this,’” he said.
In dismantling Obamacare and slashing Medicaid, Republicans would strike a blow against signature victories for racial equality in America.
It was a cold March night when Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. turned his pulpit towards health care. Speaking to a packed, mixed-race crowd of physicians and health-care workers in Chicago, King gave one of his most influential late-career speeches, blasting the American Medical Association and other organizations for a “conspiracy of inaction” in the maintenance of a medical apartheid that persisted even then in 1966.
There, King spoke words that have since become a maxim: “Of all the inequalities that exist, the injustice in health care is the most shocking and inhuman.” In the moment, it reflected the work that King and that organization, the Medical Committee for Human Rights (MCHR), were doing to advance one of the since-forgotten pillars of the civil-rights movement: the idea that health care is a right. To those heroes of the civil-rights movement, it was clear that the demons of inequality that have always haunted America could not be vanquished without the establishment and protection of that right.
If reducing recidivism is the goal of prison education, what can be gained from teaching those who will be behind bars for life?
Lance leans over his desk, his round belly situating his body tightly between the wooden chair and plastic desk—both too small for someone with his girth. A collection of yellow notepad papers, their edges frayed after being torn from their original binding, wrestle alongside one another in his hands. It is a Saturday morning, and the classroom is small, and silent but for the friction of Lance’s papers and the grinding on the pen he bites out of nervous habit. His large fingers fiddle about the loose sheets, verifying that they’re in order as he mutters to himself, quietly reading his story aloud, restless in the anticipation of sharing with his classmates. Lance is often the first person to arrive in class, having rigorously prepared the entire week, perfecting his assignment so as to leave his peers impressed.
A Yale law professor argues that America has moved passed the relationship among states that the Framers envisioned––but that a new federalism is serving the country well in its stead.
For Yale law professor Heather K. Gerken, the question of how Americans can coexist in relative peace and prosperity, despite their many differences, has a temping answer: “The tempting answer to this question is to invoke our father’s federalism, a vision of democracy in which everyone retreats to their comfortable red and blue enclaves. Peace prevails because people never have to interact with one another.”
She argues that “we should not be tempted by this outdated view,” because “red and blue silos are not the products of a well-functioning democracy. Democracy requires us to work out our differences, not shelter ourselves from viewpoints we dislike.”
Besides, she continues, “ours is not your father’s federalism.” Her assessment of our present civic reality:
Defense officials initially were in the dark about the White House’s claim the Assad regime was planning another attack.
The White House said Monday night that Syria’s Assad regime was potentially preparing for a chemical-weapons attack that “would likely result in the mass murder of civilians, including innocent children.”
“If … Mr. Assad conducts another mass murder attack using chemical weapons,” the statement from the White House press secretary said, “he and his military will pay a heavy price.”
The New York Times, which called the statement “highly unusual,” noted: “Several military officials were caught off guard by the statement from President Trump’s press secretary, but it was unclear how closely held the intelligence regarding a potential chemical attack was.” By Tuesday, the Defense Department appeared to have gotten on the same page as the president. Captain Jeff Davis, a Pentagon spokesman, said the U.S. has seen “actions suggestive of intent to use chemical weapons” at the al-Shayrat airbase for several days. That’s the same airbase the Trump administration said was used by the Assad regime to launch a chemical-weapons attack in April against civilians in Idlib Province. In that incident, President Trump responded almost immediately, launching more than 50 cruise missiles at the base near the city of Homs.