Every aspect of U.S. society seems like it is getting more and more polarized. Politicians tear at each other. The news media and social media are divided between “fake news” and “lies.” Our institutions, including religious institutions, are no longer trusted. A part of several states wants to join a different state. Some states just want to split. The federal government makes Marie-Antoinette look like a conservative money manager. For a century and a half, the federal government has expanded its powers by diminishing the standing in the union of the sovereign states. And Americans are exhausted by politics.
It’s time to ask the question, can the U.S. unite? If not, how does it divide? What do the people say, after all, it is their country?
- Pew Research Center finds only about 25% of Americans believe they can trust the government in Washington to the what is right “just about 2% of the time and 22% most of the time. Trust in government is down from 75% in 1958.
- Gallup finds only 12% of Americans have a “great deal” or “quite a lot” of confidence in Congress.
- Rasmussen finds 59% of likely voters believe members of Congress care more about what the media thinks is more important than what the voters think.
- Gallup finds only 20% of Americans have a “great deal” or “quite a lot” of confidence in the criminal justice system.
- Gallup finds only 21% of Americans have a “great deal” or “quite a lot” of confidence in newspapers.
- Rasmussen finds 58% of voters agree media is the “Enemy of the People.”
- A survey by the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism found the U.S. ranks last of 46 nations in media trust, at 29% trust.
- A Gallup Poll finds 84% of Americans believe media is to blame for our political divide.
- A Public Agenda/USA Today/Ipsos poll found 90% of Americans “…are sick and tired of being so divided.”
- Gallup finds only 37% of Americans have a “great deal” or “quite a lot” of confidence in religious institutions.
- Only 37% of likely voters think the country is heading in the right direction.
Whatever trust the American people have in their institutions it is in the military, 73%; small business, 68%; and the police 53%, notwithstanding the absurd “defund the police” movement.
The fifty states are almost equally divided on every policy issue by political camp, “Red,” or “Blue.”
Even within states, the conservative parts of Oregon want to join Idaho, and parts of northern California want to separate from the rest of California and form its own state.
Pew Research Center finds two-thirds of Americans are “worn out” by the amount of political news.
The Georgetown University Civility Survey found while 80% of voters want both parties to find “compromise and common ground;” yet 67% believe the U.S. is two-thirds of the way to the edge of a civil war. Voters across all demographics believe “…political, racial and class divisions are getting worse.”
What are these polls telling us?
A June 13, 2021 poll by the bipartisan Georgetown University Institute of Politics and Public Service found “… voters now rate ‘division in the country as the most important issue.” Voters believe the level of division is alarmingly high and will get worse in the future. These voters want compromise, at least on the issues of spending and infrastructure; but on social issues, such as abortion and voting rights, voters, both Republicans, and Democrats, want members of Congress to fight for their principles.
The most interesting part of the poll, however, is the finding that there is “a strong correlation between where people get information and how they view key issues and figures.” For example, Fox News viewers have a favorable/unfavorable rating of 17/78 on Black Lives Matter. Non-Fox viewers, however, have a 59/35 favorable/unfavorable rating. Dr. Anthony Fauci has a favorable/unfavorable rating of 20/69 among Fox viewers and a 64/27 favorable/unfavorable rating among non-Fox viewers.
The American people are smart, they want the government to work on matters impacting their day-to-day lives but are willing to accept conflict on non-bread-and-butter issues. Unfortunately, due to the influence of the media on government and the obsession of government officials to be the “darlings” of the media, government is dysfunctional because politicians and the media have agendas that conflict with the American people.
Simply, the federal government is now separate from its citizens. Government is the ruler and citizens are the servants. Media is the government’s tool to maintain confusion within the electorate so they cannot unite. Being unable to unite, the nation remains polarized and will remain polarized until elected officials begin functioning as fiduciaries to the Constitution and the institution of government in which they serve. Only when the system works for the people, will the people have trust in it.
Part II of this series describes how difficult it is for states to protect their citizens from the federal government. When a State joins the United States, it checks in under the rules of the Hotel California; States can check out anytime they like, but they can never leave. No matter how bad it gets!