According to the most recent data from Pew Research Center, National Election Studies, Gallup, ABC/Washington Post, CBS/New York Times and CNN Polls, only 21% of Americans say they trust the government in Washington, D.C., to do what is right. The headline from Dante Chinni’s June 10 NBC News article sums it up: “Americans agree on one thing — DC isn’t getting the job done.”
Thanks to tainted social media, prejudice-laden cable news, biased left- and right-wing think tanks and the disinformation and misinformation provided by politicians and their party, one can only surmise Americans are greatly divided.
The surprising reality is Democrats, Republicans and independents agree on more issues — about 150 — than they disagree.
Here are some examples:
Abortion: Sixty-one percent of Americans think abortion should be legal in all or most cases (Pew Research Center, June 13).
LGBTQ+: Gallup notes in a June 2022 report that 70% of Americans support marriage between people of the same sex.
Gun control: Background checks are approved by 89% of the public. Banning assault weapons has 63% support, 64% want to ban high-capacity magazines and 60% want to have a nationwide database to track gun sales (ABC News, May 27).
Voting: Data for Progress reveals 66% of voters want to prevent state lawmakers from overturning elections, 60% support universal vote-by-mail and a majority want to make it easier to vote (Sept. 24, 2021).
Health care: Providing Medicare for all Americans to ensure everyone has health care coverage garners 69% support (The Hill, April 24, 2020).
Cannabis: NORML reveals from its April 8 research that 68% of Americans support legalizing cannabis, plus 60% favor expunging cannabis-related convictions.
Racial justice: Eighty-six percent of citizens agree that racism is a problem, and 87% believe that books that discuss race or slavery should never be banned (CBS News, Feb. 22).
Taxes: An Oct. 16, 2021, Vox article notes 71% of voters support raising taxes on the wealthiest 2% of Americans.
The Program for Public Consultation at the University of Maryland released an Aug. 7, 2020, report identifying nearly 150 issues on which the majority of Republicans and Democrats agree, including:
Social Security: Raising the cap on income subject to the payroll tax to $215,000 or more.
Poverty programs: Increasing Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program funding.
Energy and environment: Reducing U.S. greenhouse gas emissions by 2% a year and providing tax incentives to promote clean energy.
Government reform: Overturn the Citizens United decision by the Supreme Court and regulate campaign financing.
International trade: The U.S. should continue participating in the World Trade Organization and rejoin the Trans-Pacific Partnership that former President Donald Trump abandoned in 2017.
Federal budget: Roll back the tax cuts from President Trump’s disastrous 2017 tax bill, impose a 4% surtax on income over $5 million and add a 1% surtax on corporate income over $100 million.
Let’s face it. Polarization has largely been brought on by political parties wanting to be in control and — let’s not forget — ego-driven and power-hungry politicians.
Examine the issues identified above and note if your legislator is going counter to the “Will of the People.” If so, as Peggy Noonan — revered conservative journalist of The Wall Street Journal — stated in her July 27 op-ed, “vote the bums out.” If your legislator’s voting record is in accordance with the majority of Americans, do your level best to insure their re-election.
Americans of all political persuasions are together on over 150 issues. But, now — more so than ever — we must have legislators who represent us before their party. For them to do otherwise is a dereliction of duty.
Steve Corbin is an emeritus professor of marketing at the University of Northern Iowa, Cedar Falls and regular contributor to the Nebraska Examiner, which first published this essay.