70% OF AMERICANS BELIEVE THE COUNTRY IS HEADED IN THE WRONG DIRECTION
STATISTICALLY TRUE BUT PROFOUNDLY MISLEADING
If you’ve heard this once, you’ve heard it hundreds of times. Just last night after Day 3 of the Democratic Convention it was tossed around several times by our chattering pundit class. And, it’s true. Polls that ask the question “Is American Heading In The Wrong Direction” – even in all of its pollster variations – are universally responded to with a resounding “YES!”
There is no question that a majority of Americans believe that America is heading in the wrong direction. Every poll registers this angst, typically between 55% and 70%, so there’s no argument that this feeling is indeed real. But this question and the collective responses mask what’s actually going on underneath this patina of broad consensus. Probing deeper, you discover that while the majority of Americans are pissed off about a whole lot of things, the motivations, the reasons why, let’s say, between those on the left and those of the right (Republicans vs. Democrats, Conservatives vs. Liberals, Trump Supporters vs. Bernie Supporters) could not be more different, could not be more at opposite ends of the spectrum as why we are heading in the wrong direction and what to do about it.
Here’s some data that illustrates what I mean:
And then there's this:
Overall, 46% of registered voters say that life in America today is worse than it was 50 years ago “for people like them,” while 34% say life is better and 14% think it is about the same. Republican and Republican-leaning voters are more than twice as likely as Democratic voters to say life in this country has gotten worse over the past half-century for people like them (66% to 28%).
66% Registered Republicans voters believe that their lives are worse than 50 years ago (thus the enormous appeal of Trump's "Making America Great Again") while only 28% of Registered Democratic voters feel the same. I mean obviously these folks are living in two starkly different Americas.
Now let's take a look at the Lefty-Liberal-Progressive reasons for their "pissed off" wrong direction view and the "Righty-Conservative-Reactionary" reasons for it:
Causes on the right: immigrants, Obama, high taxes, Obama, government regulation, Obama, liberal social and economic policy, Obama, government overreach, Obama, racial divisions, Obama, Democrats, Obamacare and Obama.
Causes on the left: conservative social and economic policies, low wages, student debt, college affordability, government inaction, poor trade deals, social violence, environmental inaction, unfair tax policies.
And, let's look at the solutions each side - as reflected in Democratic versus Republican policies - each side is proposing:
Solutions on the right: build a wall between the U.S. and Mexico, deport illegals, appoint conservative Supreme Court Justices, roll back EPA regulation, bigger tax cuts, ban Muslims from entering the country, scrap Obamacare, eliminate government regulations, more privitization, more guns.
Solutions on the left: stricter banking regulations, more public funding for college, increase taxes on the wealthy and corporations, end corporate welfare, promote alternate energy sources, embrace diversity, end voter ID laws, overturn Citizen's United.
This split between the right and the left, between Democrats and Republicans, between Trump and Hillary is played out in virtually every single public utterance, document and policy each has produced during this election cycle. You can see it clearly in the vast differences between Clinton's voluminous documentation on her web site versus the scanty couple of pages on Donald Trump's. You can see it clearly in each party's Convention Platforms which could not yield more schizophrenic views of how to "fix" what's wrong with America and how to close the chasm between the Left and the Right. You can clearly see it in Speaker Paul Ryan's "A Better America" that triples down on the exact same economic and social policies that have caused this widening chasm in the first place. Thirty years of "cutting taxes creates jobs" has gone leagues in creating enormous wealth for 10% of American society while leaving America's working and middle classes in the dust. Yet the Republicans are proposing more of the same.
Democrats, on the other hand, seemed to have recognized - if not fully embraced - the concerns and issues that Bernie Sanders' "Democratic Socialism" raised during the campaign and have proposed doing something about it. And nothing could be clearer than the stark differences between the dark, tumultuous, and violence ridden picture that Donald Trump - to the roars of approval of the Republican delegates - portrayed that is the real America and the hopeful, brighter, inclusive and flawed but ultimately correctable America through unity and perseverance of the Democratic Convention.
So when you hear that 70% of Americans feel that the "country is headed in the wrong direction" remember the vast divide between the Left and Right, Liberal and Conservative, Democrat and Republican about the reasons why and their respective proposed solutions. They are vastly different. This is the real story behind that poll question: "Do You Feel That The Country Is Headed In The Wrong Direction?" that our chattering pundit class ignores. If you don't get underneath this statistic, you will not understand what's really going on in America. And why.
The Pew Research organization released an extensive poll on July 7, 2016 which is quite interesting.
PEW POLL RESULTS
Have a good day!