There is a lot of squawking and snarling about politics out there — and a lot of melancholy tales of families and friends who part ways over political beliefs. There’s hostility — and even murmurs of a possible civil war in the United States as political polarization gets extreme and compromise gets rare.
A pollster is watching.
“Personal political identity” now affects the public’s view of health care, the economy, education, job satisfaction and much more, according to Gallup’s editor in chief Frank Newport, who has conducted and analyzed polls examining those issues and many more. He now says that the impact of such political partisanship is increasing, and it’s taken on an “emotionally negative tone.”
Those are strong words for a pollster.
He says there are some benefits to passion in politics. People feel “social solidarity” when they side with other like-minded individuals. Politics can also inspire them to examine complex issues which previously had not been on their radar. And of course, ramped up and emotional politics also fuels the daily outrage fodder for cable news networks, talk show hosts and political consultants — which translates into robust business and public engagement.
“Today’s increase in partisanship in the U.S. also has significant harmful effects. Most importantly, polarization and partisan conflict lead to inaction, as ‘my way or the highway,’ ideologically rigid mentalities lower the probability of achieving the compromise that should be at the heart of legislative functioning,” Mr. Newport writes.
That phenomenon is eroding both social institutions and social structures, the pollster says — not good when external threats like rogue states, terrorists, shifting world economies and “massively” unstable populations are also in the mix.
“At some point, our society must balance the internal conflict resulting from differences in partisans’ views of the world with a broader agreement on how we as a society adapt to external threats and achieve societal objectives. What will it take to do that? Presumably we need leaders who don’t focus as much on taking advantage of, and stoking, partisan differences as they do looking at the larger picture. That’s a difficult challenge, but one to which the American public may well be quite receptive. It’s usually easier to criticize than to make efforts to agree on solutions. But we are going to need more emphasis on the latter in the years ahead, I think, if our society is to thrive and survive,” Mr. Newport advises.
Upon revealing that the impeachment process against President Trump would go forward, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi included multiple references to the Constitution and such Founding Fathers as James Madison and George Mason.
One observant Republican felt called upon to cite whom she chose to leave out.
“This morning I listened to Speaker Pelosi give us historical references,” Republican Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy noted in the immediate aftermath of Mrs. Pelosi’s big reveal.
“The one that she skipped was Alexander Hamilton when he wrote that there will always be the greatest danger that the decision to use the impeachment power would be driven by partisan animosity instead of real demonstrations of innocence or guilt. Today is the day that Hamilton warned us about,” Mr. McCarthy observed.
A BRIEF REALITY CHECK
A Rasmussen Reports daily Presidential Tracking Poll released after the aforementioned Mrs. Pelosi advised that impeachment was a go has revealed that 52% of likely U.S. voters now approve of President Trump’s job performance.
A REFRESHING HEADLINE
“12 times Melania Trump looked breathtakingly beautiful.”
This timely recognition of the first lady comes from Tristan Justice, a staff writer for The Federalist who has cited a dozen moments when Mrs. Trump proved to be a spectacular and gracious presence on the global stage. He deems her “stunningly fabulous” during a week which found some major news organizations particularly critical of Mrs. Trump’s sartorial choices.
Of note: Mr. Justice also revisits President Trump’s inauguration day in 2017, when the new first lady wore an impeccable pale blue suit and gloves, and later, an outstanding white evening gown for the celebratory moments which followed.
Another “good get” for Fox News. Country music star John Rich has joined Fox Nation, the network’s on-demand streaming service which just celebrated its first anniversary.
According to executive vice president for development John Finley, Mr. Rich will host a new program called “The Pursuit” from his home in Nashville, Tennessee “with signature star guests and personal friends of Rich who will delve into their journey to achieving the American dream.”
The new program debuts in February and will be ideal, Mr. Rich says, “to further connect with the Fox News family and continue to create meaningful content.”
Earlier this year, he teamed up with “The Five” co-host Greg Gutfeld to co-create “Shut Up About Politics,” a hit single that reached No. 1 on Billboard’s country sales chart.
Meanwhile, Fox News itself continues to flummox the competition with its coverage, continuing its reign as the most-watched cable network throughout the day for the week ending Dec. 1, according to Nielsen Media Research. This marks the 47th consecutive week the network has won the ratings race in the entire cable realm.
And yes, Fox News still dominates its news rivals as it has done for almost 18 years straight: Fox News drew 2.2 million prime-time viewers while MSNBC attracted 1.3 million and CNN 643,000.
POLL DU JOUR
• 80% of Americans wrap their holiday gifts themselves.
• 69% say they are “good” at wrapping gifts.
• 75% buy gifts for family members, 54% for their “significant other.”
• 37% buy for friends, 31% for pets.
• 13% buy for their co-workers, 10% for their neighbors.
Source: A YouGov poll of 1,240 U.S. adults conducted Nov. 11-12 and released Wednesday.
• Kindly follow Jennifer Harper on Twitter @HarperBulletin.
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