Americans resist the drift away from common sense
No crystal ball can predict the outcome of the 2020 presidential election, but surveys of public opinion offer insight into voter views that may shape the outcome. A look at how Americans regard the many challenges at home and abroad — among them immigration, health care, socialism and climate change — indicates an enduring affection for the conservative common sense.
A recent poll conducted by Heritage Action for America found that U.S. voters’ current views are generally in step with traditional values. It’s a promising sign for the coalition that elected Donald Trump in 2016 and hopes to re-elect him. The organization, started by the Heritage Foundation, analyzed the responses of 4,500 likely voters on issues considered pivotal for the upcoming race for the White House.
With the flood of humanity reaching the U.S. southern border the hot-button issue for Americans, 63 percent of respondents agreed with the statement, “The migration problem at the U.S. border is a national emergency.” Some 54 percent concurred that illegal immigration affects “my life,” with 43 percent disagreeing. Questioned about the biggest challenge to the country posed by illegal immigrants, the largest proportion at 37 percent named the overuse of social services.
The solution is less clear. Despite the number of immigrants arrested while crossing the southern border expected to reach 1.1 million this fiscal year, Americans are still not sold on a border wall: 49 percent opposed to its construction slightly surpassed the 48 percent who support it.
Costs and coverage of the U.S. health care system remain perennial problems with the slow-moving collapse of the Affordable Care Act of 2010. Heritage Action found 70 percent of respondents are opposed to banning private insurance companies and creating a government-run system. Nonetheless, Democratic candidates for the 2020 presidential election are racing in the opposite direction. Debating in Detroit last week, they threw nearly unanimous support behind a federal takeover of the U.S. health care system. It’s a risky move.
Equally perilous, the Democrats have joined Sen. Bernie Sanders’ efforts to make America safe for socialism. The U.S. has a history of tolerating a grab-bag a peculiar values, but voters draw the line at the S-word. Asked whether they agree that “socialism is a bad economic system that leads to bigger government, less freedom, worse economic conditions, and more welfare dependency,” a solid 65 percent answered in the affirmative.
The electorate is evenly balanced between pro-life and pro-choice positions, but 76 percent agree that doctors should “provide medical care for infants surviving an abortion.” Apparently, “Live and Let Die” works as a film title, but in the real world where babies are beloved, it evokes a level of heartlessness that most Americans won’t stomach.
Differences in deeply held values show up in attitudes toward threats beyond U.S. shores as well. A survey of major global flashpoints published last week by the Pew Research Center found that Republicans and Democrats disagree most profoundly about whether climate change is a major threat to the nation’s well-being. While 84 percent of Democrats and those leaning Democrat expressed deep concern over the state of the planet’s climate, only 27 percent of those voting and leaning Republican did.
Views on climate could hardly be more starkly divergent. “We’re too late” in halting the supposed warming effect caused by human activity, moaned Democratic contender Andrew Yang during the Detroit debate last week. He urged listeners to move to higher ground, on the assumption that melting glaciers will submerge populated coastal cities.
Other candidates trumpeted the “Green New Deal,” the progressive scheme to ban fossil fuels within 10 years and hope the global economy can function on solar and wind power alone. Renewable energy sources accounted for less than 20 percent of the world’s energy production in 2017. Republicans regard the notions of Mr. Yang and his fellow Democrats on a par with the hysterical zealot roaming the streets while holding a sign reading “Repent, the end is near.”
Toward the geopolitical climate, Americans evince varying gaps in attitudes. While 65 percent of Democrats agreed that Russia’s power and influence is a major threat to the United States, only 35 percent of Republicans expressed similar concern. In contrast, both parties exhibit lukewarm views about the threat from China and North Korea’s nuclear program.
As the political temperature rises in advance of 2020, Americans are signaling that the Land of the Free intends to stay that way.
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