Friday, February 24, 2017

What do we the people want, anyway?

I first was alerted to this poll because NBC/Survey Monkey found that fully 66 percent of us fear that the Trump administration "will become engaged in a major war in the next four years." I was tempted to snort: haven't we been at war for 16 years now? People in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Somalia, and Yemen certainly might think so. But of course I know what respondents mean and why they are concerned/scared. When the president is a brainless, bellicose boor with bombs, more war seems likely.

But there's a lot more in this poll of "a national sample of 11,512 adults aged 18 and over" taken last week to ponder. What people are most worried about is jobs and the economy (28%) and healthcare (16%). Nobody much likes either party in Congress and a majority (55%) disapproves of Trump's new presidency while 43% approve. This is low, but in the range of where Obama was much of his eight years in office.

But on a huge range of issues, random adults -- for their own mixed reasons -- seem to agree with positions in opposition to the Trump/Republican agenda. Sixty-five percent have "confidence in the judicial system" on which the Tangerine has declared war. Fifty-six percent oppose the Wall; fifty-eight percent say "immigration helps the United States more than it hurts it".

Sixty-eight percent don't want the Roe v Wade decision which established "a woman’s constitutional right to an abortion, at least in the first three months of pregnancy" completely overturned. They didn't poll whether chipping away at that right was okay, but the strength of the underlying sentiment in favor of choice surprised me. Can the right afford the magnitude of the backlash if they try to outlaw abortion completely, as many certainly aim to?

Respondents were mildly distressed by "globalization" (39%) defined as "the increase of things like trade, communication, travel and other things among countries around the world." However 31% thought we gained from "globalization" while another 28% were not sure. Nothing definitive there. Forty-one percent thought the US should be "less active" around the world, but 80% thought NATO was good for the USA. To be honest, I don't think most of us think much about these matters most of the time.

Keeping the Affordable Care Act, that is Obamacare, polls a few points ahead of getting rid of it. But more interestingly, 40% of those responding do not know their Congressperson's position on repeal. (They don't seem to have asked whether they knew their Congressperson's name; I would not be surprised if a majority did not.) If we want to keep some vestige of the government's commitment to ensuring access to doctors, we've got a clear education project here.

Perhaps most striking to me as that 58% of respondents "have a close friend or family member who immigrated to the United States in their lifetime." Also, 53% "personally know [some]one who is Muslim." Those of us who want a more inclusive United States have a strong base from which to build in this; in general, people don't take kindly to authorities mistreating people they actually know.

This is a big, complicated, fractious and frustrated country, but there are a lot of healthy trends in these findings on which to grow something better.

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