WASHINGTON: A new Pew Report survey confirms what we all know: “Overwhelming majorities in both U.S. political parties (85% of Republicans and 78% of Democrats) say divisions between the two are increasing.” The details, however, reveal significant roadblocks to overcoming growing socio-political divisions, something of concern to eight-in-ten Americans. And now perhaps best seen in the House Trump impeachment inquiry.
“From the 1980s through the mid-2000s, no more than about a third of Americans said there were major differences between the two parties,” the survey says. Today, 55% of Americans say that is the case.
The survey—“Partisan Antipathy: More Intense, More Personal,” conducted before House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced impeachment proceedings against President Trump—finds that Republicans more than Democrats are likely to say there are major differences in what the parties represent (74% of Republicans vs. 59% of Democrats).
No deep psychological insight is required to understand that we often accuse others of sins for which we, ourselves, are guilty.
In that light,
“75% of Democrats say Republicans are ‘more closed-minded’ than other Americans, while 64% of Republicans say the same thing about Democrats.”
Open-mindedness is a prerequisite for meaningful discussion, and as Pat Buchanan used to say, “You can’t solve what you won’t discuss.”
Instead of discussion, we commonly see epithets hurled across party lines, one of which is “unpatriotic.”
The perception of degrees of patriotism is a fundamental expression of the antipathy resulting from a difference in political beliefs and acrimony, and on that score, the gap between the parties is a wide one.
Sixty-three percent (63%) “of Republicans view Democrats as more unpatriotic. By comparison, just 23% of Democrats say this about Republicans.”
“Majorities in both parties say those in the opposing party do not share their nonpolitical values and goals,” the survey says.
Moreover, 73% of the public — including 77% of Republicans and 72% of Democrats — say that voters in both parties “not only disagree over plans and policies but also cannot agree on the basic facts.” (Dems Rely on Phony Impeachment Polling – Rasmussen Reports July 2019)
Even a cursory glance at House impeachment proceedings and media reports about the Trump presidency provides proof enough of that.
Meanwhile, Democratic presidential candidates double down on Leftist extremism in their calls for open borders; providing health care, voting rights, and benefits for illegal aliens. Democrats are promoting an environmental policy that would cost tens of trillions of dollars; student loan debt forgiveness; minimal guaranteed incomes; gun confiscation; punishing churches for their religious beliefs, and much more. All against conservative policy increasing the political divisions between the two parties. There is no coming to an agreement.
Extremism among voters
That extremism may pose a problem in 2020 for middle-of-the-road Democratic voters, of whom “nearly 6-in-10.…(58%) say it is more important for a Democratic…candidate, if elected, to find common ground with Republicans on policies even if that means giving up some things Democrats really want.”
Although the majority of the Democratic base seems to be more inclined to compromise with Republicans than party leaders, 41% of Democrats maintain that it’s more important for their party “to push hard for Democratic policies even if it’s harder to get things done.”
“About half of Republicans (53%), say Donald Trump should push hard for GOP policies even if that means less gets done; 45% say he should make compromises with Democrats even if that means giving up things that Republicans really want.”
“78% [of Americans] say divisions between Republicans and Democrats in this country are increasing,”
Republicans by a seven percent margin (85%-78%) see the increase in differences.
Pew Research conducted its Sept 3 to September 15, 2019, among 9,895 adult respondents.
David Alan Coia is a writer, editor and educator in Arlington, VA.