November 7, 2008

Election week: retrospective edition

I have been exhausted all week. This campaign has been pretty central to my mind for the last year, so perhaps it is no wonder.

This morning, I have been unable to stop reading Newsweek's 7 chapter series (5 available so far) on the campaign. Just finished chapter two on McCain's comeback in the primary, and am engrossed in chapter three's discussion of the Clinton campaign. Absolutely a great read, and a must for those political junkies out there.

Related topic, at least here in Oklahoma, has been the fact that our state voted more for McCain than any. Not one county went for Obama, and that has a lot of us shaking our heads. Not only that, but at the state level, Republicans made gains in the state legislature. Again, I don't have a problem with a lot of my Republican friends and family, but these Republicans are not mostly of that variety. They are the kinds who, as Rachel Maddow noted last night, are like hiring a vegan to be your butcher. They hate government and want to undermine it as much as possible.

What is more, they seem (and I stress the seem) to pursue ideology or belief with no regard for reason or outcome. Sally Kern, famous for comparing gay people to terrorists, appears to so badly want women to remain in the home, that she wants to undercut every program aimed at helping women or children. I had coffee yesterday with a former student who noted that he grew up in one of those suburbs, dominated by Christian conservative Republicans, all of which (or most) moved to the burb to create a little Christian cocoon. He said, however, that the teenage pregnancy and drug problems were sometimes worse there. I asked him why they continued to pursue such policies when the outcome and results were counter to their goals, and he noted that outcomes and facts were irrelevant when you dealt with belief.

Found this fascinating article on evangelicals and sexuality in the New Yorker that suggests that my former student isn't completely right, but not far off:
"But, according to Add Health data, evangelical teen-agers are more sexually active than Mormons, mainline Protestants, and Jews. On average, white evangelical Protestants make their “sexual début”—to use the festive term of social-science researchers—shortly after turning sixteen. Among major religious groups, only black Protestants begin having sex earlier.

Another key difference in behavior, Regnerus reports, is that evangelical Protestant teen-agers are significantly less likely than other groups to use contraception."
We have discussed this before, but it is interesting that the red states often have higher rates of teen pregnancy, divorce and abuse, while the supposedly godless blue states do better in most of those areas.

From my perspective, this is part of that anti-intellectual part of the right that places like Oklahoma have adopted with glee. I have no idea how to change that or approach it. I also wonder if our low electoral college numbers means that we get very little attention from national politicians, and so many in the state never hear an alternative explanation.

Anyway. Happy reading.


steves said...

I have worked with teens in the past and have seen similar things occuring. I think that very strict parents sometimes create a desire for rebellion, but I have also seen equally bad issues come from ones that were overly permissive. I would like to point out that just looking at statiscal data may be problematic, since there may be other factors that are accounting for the differences.

I saw it when I worked in a University Counseling Center. There was a dect of Lutherans that were very strict (no dancing, no cards, no TV, etc.). They would go to college and experience the same pressures and freedoms as other students, in terms of socializing and would get into a lot of trouble with binge drinking and partying.

Not only that, but at the state level, Republicans made gains in the state legislature.

We experienced the opposite. The Democrats made some gains. Not that there is anything wrong with that, but some decent Republicans lost.

Streak said...

Yeah, I felt that way in 06 when Lincoln Chafee lost his senate seat.

Unfortunately, our Republicans are not like yours, I don't think. If they were, I would be less concerned.

steves said...

Oh, we have some kooks up here, too. I have some disagreements with Chafee, but he seemed like a decent guy.