I just completed some personal research of some of the top liberal forums, social media, and blogs on the Internet in search of the top ten issues that America faces today from a liberal perspective. Obviously, this is not a scientific survey, but based on what I’ve seen, I think it fairly represents the broadest scope of liberal thought in America today.
So, without further ado, here are the top 10 issues among American liberals today.
1. Health Care – Despite the passage of the landmark health care reform bill in 2010, popularly monikered “Obamacare” by the press, health care continues to be the overwhelming number one issue among American liberals today. This is in part due to the fact that the 2010 law was watered down from the perspective of most liberals, and in the opinion of most liberals it won’t get the job done. Liberal support for universal health care regardless of pre-existing medical conditions or ability to pay remains a major driving force within the movement. With insurance and health industry costs continuing to rise, this issue will not go away soon from the liberal camp, and I fully expect it to remain in the number one position for years to come.
2. Civil Rights and Liberties – Not surprisingly, this is the number two issue, as it has been for quite some time. Concerns for (among other things) the rights of gay and lesbian people, religious intolerance, and the erosion of personal liberties has, if anything, increased since the last presidential election. The issue is actually an umbrella for a range of related issues, and you’ll get different answers from different liberals as to what are the most important of the issues under the rights umbrella, but that doesn’t take away from the fact that the overall issue still dominates the thinking of most American liberals today.
3. Jobs/Unemployment/Economy/Poverty/Foreclosures – I’ve grouped these together because, as with civil rights and liberties, these four issues are all closely grouped under the same umbrella in the minds of most of today’s liberals. The common perception is that if government leads the way toward job creation, economic progress will follow. I included poverty in this group, although it is not usually addressed by liberals as much as it used to be as a specific issue. This could, in part, be due to the fact that with the middle class under attack economically since the onset of the Financial Crisis of 2008, the poor have had to share the spotlight where economic issues are concerned.
4. Climate Change and Environmental Issues – This has long been a stereotypical liberal issue, and it hasn’t lost its status in any significant way. The recent earthquake and tsunami in Japan and its resulting nuclear mess has only served to enhance the issue in liberal eyes. There is a growing sense of “we told you so” in the liberal movement regarding this issue.
5. Education – Long a bastion of liberal thought, education still places high on the average American liberal’s agenda. The perception continues to exist among most liberals that not enough is being done to educate children and college students and to make access to such education affordable and reachable for all, regardless of their economic circumstances. A general loathing of “no child left behind” also permeates the movement, although it’s not clear whether this is due to the fact that President Bush, a conservative, originally proposed it or whether its implementation has been done contrary to the way many liberals would like it to have been implemented.
6. Ending Corporate / Government Ties – Though not new, this is a relatively newer issue for the typical top 10 list of American liberal priorities compared to some of the older, longer-standing liberal issues. The Financial Crisis of 2008 particularly seems to have raised this issue higher on most liberal agendas, with the perception that the crisis has been addressed by politicians from both parties working in congruence with corporations and corporate interests rather than holding corporations, especially banks, responsible for what happened. Ending lobbying in Washington is listed as an honorable mention on our top 10 list, but it could easily be included as part of this issue, because so many liberals consider the two to be closely linked.
7. Bring The Troops Home / Foreign Policy / Foreign Aid – There is a strong tendency among liberals today to want America to stop interfering in other countries and bring the troops home from Iran and Afghanistan. This issue is not homogenous among liberals, however, as there are a significant minority of liberals who have a more interventionist view of what America’s role in the world should continue to be.
8. Energy – Curiously, while this shows up on the radar of a lot of liberal minds, very little attention is given to any actual developments going on in America regarding wind, water, and solar technologies, although that is beginning to change as the market begins to respond to public demands. The general perception among liberals is that not nearly enough is being done in regard to creating alternative energy sources by either the government or the private sector.
9. Social Safety Net and Children’s Issues – Surprisingly, with all the attention given by liberals to health care, the rest of the social safety net doesn’t get nearly as much attention these days by comparison. These issues are barely on the list at #9. I’ve grouped children’s issues in here because for many liberals the social safety net seems primarily to be about taking care of the needs of children, including economically, educationally, and in their health care. Still, one should not underestimate the importance that the leading social programs have in the minds of liberals. Social Security and Medicare are still untouchable, and for many liberals the feeling is that not enough has been done to make these programs universal and more comprehensive.
10. Disease Research – a surprise result at #10, government funding of research into dread diseases scores remarkably high on the agendas of many liberals. This is probably in part related to all of the attention given to the #1 issue, Health Care, but the issue is sufficiently separate from Health Care in the minds of modern American liberals that it gets its own, separate issue slot.
Honorable mentions: religious intolerance, abortion, lobbying Washington, the “Arab Spring” in the Middle East, political reform, democracy, and financial system reform.