Who was surprised that UU's were as strongly affiliated with the Democratic Party as this poll shows?
What does it mean?
What one thinks about this probably has a lot to do with what you think the highest value of Unitarian Universalism is.
If you think that inclusion and diversity is the highest value, then the poll is discouraging news. We are not very good at making Republicans welcome in our congregations..
But if you think that living our faith is the highest value, the poll shows our growing maturity as a faith community.
Everybody says that we live in a politically polarized time. That means more than that people of similar political opinions are forming tighter associations with each other. It means that both liberalism and conservatism as becoming clearer, more defined, and more ways of life.
Corey Robin argues that modern conservatism is defined by the defense of local hierarchies of power, such as the power of the father in the traditional family or the owner of a business. Wherever there is a hierarchy, conservatives instinctively try to preserve it against any democratizing influence. Conservatives say they oppose the state, but only when the state is breaking down the many small kingdoms of the world.
This same line of thought shows up in the popular meme that the political differences in the USA all come down to differences in our parenting preferences: the authoritarian parent vs the nurturing parent.
The Republican Party has become the conservative party in our time. The GOP is becoming ideologically conservative; it supports the relationships of domination and subordination in just about any sphere that you can think of.
Unitarian Universalist thinking has been moving quite deliberately in the opposite direction. I think that our commitment to become an "anti-racist, anti-oppressive, multicultural religious movement" has set a moral imperative before us that is radicalizing us. We are increasingly seeing the petty tyrants and small kingdoms of this world, even in our churches and congregations, and opposing them.
You can even say that our vision of covenant as the ideal of all social relationships as being a direct contradiction of conservatism. A covenantal relationship is not one of domination and subordination but one of equality and mutuality.
I may be wrong, but I don't think that the 84% UU identification with the Democratic Party is really based on a commitment to the Party itself. I think it's anti-conservatism at work.
We are growing into the full meaning of our theological commitments. The evidence that we are gathering at one end of the political spectrum in a country polarizing over fundamental differences is a result of, and a sign of, that growth.