Mark A. Smith is professor of Political Science and an adjunct professor of Comparative Religion and Communication at the University of Washington. His research focuses on economic and religious groups, ideas, and influences in American politics. In his new book, Secular Faith: How Culture Has Trumped Religion in American Politics, Dr. Smith argues that religion is not nearly the unchanging conservative influence in American politics that we have come to think it is and is best understood as responding to changing political and cultural values rather than shaping them.
In this week’s column for Figuring Faith, Dr. Robert P. Jones outlines why politicians should move past ideological logjams as they seek to find a solution to the impending fiscal cliff. Democratic and Republican voters, Dr. Jones writes, are for the most part united in their desire for a balanced solution to the budget crisis:
A balanced approach to solving the deficit problem, which focuses on raising taxes as well as cutting major programs, is popular among American voters overall. When asked in the wake of the election about the best way to solve the deficit problem, only 1-in-5 (20 percent) voters say we should focus mostly on cutting major programs, and less than 1-in-10 (6 percent) say we should focus mostly on increasing taxes. More than 7-in-10 (71 percent) voters favor a combination of the two approaches.
There is a near consensus among voters for President Obama (83 percent) that lawmakers should employ both tax increases and program cuts in tackling the federal deficit. Moreover, even approximately 6-in-10 (59 percent) Romney voters agree with this approach, although a significant minority (36 percent) believe that leaders should focus mostly on cutting major programs.
To read the full piece, head to Figuring Faith, Dr. Jones’ Washington Post blog.