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When is a social issue not a social issue?

by Greg Krehbiel on 24 February 2012

It occurred to me today that the phrase “social issues” only appears when Republicans talk about social issues. At least that’s the way it seems to me.

When Santorum or Romney talk about the family, or abortion, or whatever, they’re talking about “social issues,” and the headlines are usually about whether or not this will hurt them.

But when Maryland politicians want to promote gay marriage, or Democrats want to use the military to promote some social goal, why isn’t that a “social issue,” and why don’t the stories follow the “will this hurt them” theme?

“social issues” +democrat in Google News gives you 1,770 results, but “social issues” +republican gives you 3,450.

“social issues” hurt republicans gives you 430 results, but “social issues” hurt democrats gives you 343.

That’s not conclusive by any means, but I wonder if any media watchdog groups have monitored this.

-- 2012-02-24  »  Greg Krehbiel

Talkback x 4

  1. RootCzar
    24 February 2012 @ 3:27 pm

    For me, and this is all just my opinion … :-D

    Republican takes on ‘social issues’ like ‘the family’ or ‘abortion’ tend to be restrictive and exclusionary …

    Democratic takes tend to be more inclusive …

    ‘The Family’ is a good example, as that plays into conceptualizations of formalized ‘Marriage.’ I’d submit that it’s predominantly the more right-leaning Republicans who want to restrict the definitions involved, and Democrats endeavor to expand them. With that, it’s the R’s that ‘take issue’ with the elements comprising the ‘social issue.’

    Abortion – Dems: everybody has the right; Reps: nobody should have the right. There’s perhaps more media story to the latter, as there seems much more to say on the topic … especially since the existing legal rights, are under intense workings to actually be taken away from people.

    I think it’s slightly misleading to indicate that ‘Maryland politicians want to PROMOTE gay marriage’ … I don’t know that is the right word. I think they might simply seek to establish the legal right to gay marriage, absent of some restrictive and discriminatory static. I think there’s been much in the way of paranoia about ‘The Homosexual Agenda’ … and use of the term ‘promote’ might further some of it.

    I’m not gay, but it certainly doesn’t sit right with me that a healthy % of our population, doesn’t enjoy the same legal rights and related benefits, that I do. If you’re endeavoring to limit someone else’s rights … I’d think you’d need to really evaluate what you’re doing, and why you’re doing it. Especially, if it really doesn’t directly affect you.

    I struggle a little to come up with a contemporary example of Democrats wanting to use the military, absent of at least some significant Republican cooperation …

    ‘Policy issues’ … I’d think that the D’s get the restrictive tag, as they tend to promote more regulation. Frankly, I’m thankful for it.

  2. smitemouth
    24 February 2012 @ 3:55 pm

    You’re correct with ” that’s the way it seems to me.”

    The rest of it is sort of like comparing apples to paper clips. If you had a hotly contested Democratic primary with 4 candidates vying for the presidential nomination, the you probably could draw some conclusions from the data you collected from Google. As it is, the Republican candidates seem to be getting way more press–after all, conflict and drama make for better (or at least profitable) news stories. Absent a way to balance out the comparison, I think it would not be wise to draw any conclusions from the data. YMMV.

  3. Greg Krehbiel Greg Krehbiel
    24 February 2012 @ 4:00 pm

    I guess the real question in my mind is whether the phrase “social issues” has become linked to “Republican / conservative take on social issues.”

    Democrats / liberals also have opinions on the same topics, but it doesn’t seem that their opinions are called “social issues.”

  4. John Krehbiel John Krehbiel
    26 February 2012 @ 10:37 am

    I think this is the way the media is still liberal. It is also the thing I don’t give a rat’s rear end about.

    It matters a great deal more to me that the press is living in gold-standard fantasy land when it comes to economics, and blame-the-unions Republican talking point land when it comes to education, labor, and many other things. I object much more when NPR was cheerleading for Bush’s Big Adventure in Iraq and Afghanistan than when Terry Gross (IIRC) was pestering Neil Clark Warren about not hooking up gay people on eHarmony.

    But to answer your question, the Republicans are 50 years or so “behind the times” on this one, and Democrats are only about 10 years “behind the times.” (I’m not necessarily saying that fads in social mores are always good, or always bad either for that matter– just observing) Neither party has very well represented the actual public view on most social issues, except in some infrequent cases like integration where public policy led public opinion.

    BTW, I read the other day that Maryland’s new same sex marriage law may hurt Obama due to his less than full-throated support for the issue.

    As to the label, I think that Republicans brought that on themselves with their own labeling, like “value-voters.”