Everyone knows America is deeply divided, blue and red, for the 2018 election so a new international organization called More in Common has performed a study
making it vivid just in time for the midterm election.
Merely 53 percent tell More in Common pollsters that they are proud to be Americans. 91 percent of Strong Conservatives do but only 18 percent of Strong Progressives.
Pretty much everyone believes in freedom, equality, and free speech but seven in ten say they will only speak freely about race, gender, immigration, and Islam “when I am with people who are like me.”
73 percent say it is essential for Americans to speak English — although merely 22 percent of Strong Progressives think so — only 50 percent of Americans say U.S. birth is necessary, and only 38 percent say any particular religion is important for citizenship.
More in Common finds the only way to make sense of America today is to divide the nation into what it calls its “hidden tribes,” divided into Strong Progressives (8 percent), Traditional Liberals (11 percent), Passive Liberals (15 percent), the politically Disengaged (26 percent), Moderates (15 percent), Traditional Conservatives (19 percent) and Strong Conservatives (6 percent), with the most consistent believers at each end of the political spectrum.
They differ on practically everything.
From the left, Progressives are characterized as rejecting traditional authority and privilege: with 86 percent saying social outcomes are beyond individual control, 94 percent saying white people start with an advantage in life, 91 percent saying men do, and 94 percent concluding government must “ensure everyone is provided for.” At the right end, only 2 percent of Strong Conservatives say individuals cannot control events, only a fifth say whites or men start with advantages or agree that people need government guarantees.
The difficulty for Progressives is that only a fifth of Americans support them in not voicing pride in their country, only 31 percent that outcomes are beyond individual control, and 46 percent that government must ensure outcomes. Conservative key beliefs in hard work, in religion’s importance, in well-behaved children, and in different roles for men and women do have the support of large majorities but they lack majority support on the key issue of immigration.
The study targets four issues as especially polarizing: immigration, race, gender and religion. When asked whether they thought immigration was good for the country or a burden, 56 percent of Americans said it was good and only a minority considered it a burden. Merely 41 percent believe undocumented aliens take jobs from Americans. Most also support paths to citizenship for alien children but 53 percent also say that immigrants these days are better protected than citizens with only Progressives, Liberals, and minorities (except conservative ones) disagreeing.
While majorities in all of the ideological groups agree racism is a problem and fear white supremacists, only 40 percent of Americans agree with large majorities of Progressives and Liberals that race is not taken seriously enough politically; while 69 percent actually say there is too much sensitivity to race in the country.
While a majority of the population believes whites do have advantages and 60 percent of Progressives support racial partiality in college admissions, 72 percent of the total population opposes such preferences. While 51 percent of Americans believe police disproportionally penalize blacks, 56 percent think Black Lives Matter has made things worse, especially the conservative groups.
While Americans find that sexism is still a problem and people are becoming more tolerant on sexual behavior, 55 percent say that such changes have had a negative effect on family values and have loosened the country’s moral foundations. Here differences between the ideological groups are especially large with Progressives and Liberals demanding action against sexism and LGBT bias and those on the right concerned that there is too much today labeled as sexual harassment that in fact is not. And a 51 percent majority of the public agrees. Even 46 percent of the population says that too many feminists are just out to “attack men.”
While 83 percent of the population believes in God and 63 percent says that religion is very important in their lives and only 21 percent that it is not at all important, religion is another area that dramatically divides the ideological groups. Majorities in all of the factions say that people of different beliefs can be good Americans but majorities of Progressives and traditional and passive Liberals say more belief in science and reason would help the country most while majorities of the Disengaged, Moderates, traditional and strong Conservatives have majorities saying more faith and religion would be best.
All in all, the division is clear. The right has some advantage on these critical cultural issues and this might suggest that a blue wave Tuesday might not turn into a tsunami. But whoever wins, the nation will remain divided and the politics distasteful.
Donald Devine is senior scholar at the Fund for American Studies, the author of "America’s Way Back: Reclaiming Freedom, Tradition and Constitution," and was Ronald Reagan’s director of the U.S. Office of Personnel Management during his first term. For more of his reports, Go Here Now.
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