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So the erosion of the taboo against homosexuality does not mean final cultural victory for the Left; it means perpetual oscillation between radicalism and tradition. Shifting Values The impossibility of sustaining a culturally “Left” style of life is also illustrated by voting habits of women after they marry and have children. In ever-increasing numbers, women have been putting off marriage to pursue careers. The abortion right is a valuable safety valve for this lifestyle, so these women tend to vote for pro-choice Democrats.

Most Americans are more worried about crime, the economy, and public education, the authors maintain. Smith is an assistant professor of sociology at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill. As you read, consider the following questions: 1. According to a 1994 poll cited by the authors, what did the majority of respondents believe to be the biggest problem facing the country? 2. What percentage of all Americans are concerned about culture wars issues, according to Smith and his colleagues?

According to a 1994 Roper poll cited by the author, what values do four generations of Americans share in common? John Harmon McElroy, American Beliefs: What Keeps a Big Country and a Diverse People United. Chicago: Ivan R. Dee, 1999. Copyright © 1999 by John Harmon McElroy. Reproduced by permission of the publisher. 62 A mericans believe in improvement, not decline. But should the formative and unifying set of beliefs that has been crucial to America’s astonishingly rapid rise to prominence ever become deformed, the United States would surely decline.

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