Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Permissive, The Restrictive And The Prohibitive

Also known as The Good, The Bad and the Ugly.  Nate Silver takes on the polls on Don't Ask, Don't Tell, where the three groups respectively are: for getting rid of the policy, for keeping the policy, and for no gays in the military at all.  The title to the post are the shorthand labels.  My first line is my take on that, snarky and biased, which comes as now surprise to followers of my Spews.

Anyhow, the important facts are these:
  • 70% of the military "believe that the impact of repealing the law would be positive, mixed or of no consequence at all."  This is significant since the military is, on average, pretty damned conservative.  They tend not to like change, they tend to vote Republican, and they tend to look slightly askance when a random academic is dropped in their midst and says things like "why does there have to be 'Under God' in the pledge of allegiance."  If 70% of these folks are not against the end of DADT, that says quite a lot.  You are not going to get more than 70% in such a poll.  Geez, the Quebec separatists would love to get 70%.  
  • We see significant change over time in the public's take on this (Silver uses two different sets of poll questions to distinguish between the permissive and everyone else and then the prohibitive and everyone else since polling questions have varied):

 This shows that the public has moved quite significantly over the past twenty years or so, is not out of step with the military.
  • "What’s most interesting about this plot, though, is the narrowing of the gap between the permissive and restrictive position. This gap is the percentage of Americans who believe gay men and lesbians should only be allowed to serve if they don’t reveal their sexual orientation. In other words, it’s the percentage of Americans who support the status quo. The gap between the permissive and restrictive positions offers an unobtrusive measure of support for the policy position behind “don’t ask, don’t tell.”
 Turns out, in my humble opinion, enough war and enough stories about the fine performance of gays and lesbians under fire have done enough to delegitimate the discrimination inherent in this policy.

  •  "Today, one position has emerged as the clear preference of the majority of Americans. Seventy-five percent of Americans support open service, 17 oppose any service, and only 8 percent support the compromise position of “don’t ask, don’t tell.”
So, if the US was a democracy, the policy would be changed.  Too bad it is not....*  DADT is a policy that will seen be OBE--overcome by events.  It will someday be seen as shameful (or nearly so) as segregation in the military.

 * Of course, as an elitist, I only like overwhelming public support when it favors something I like, such as getting rid of DADT, as opposed to something I don't, such as national language laws.

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