Recent surveys dramatically illustrate the sharp divide between left and right in America
An imbalance between rich and poor is the oldest and most fatal ailment of all republics. — Greek historian Plutarch (46-120 A.D.)
This excerpt from a COLUMN by Thomas Edsall in The New York Times over the weekend speaks volumes about the current political condition of America:
Two post-election polls – one released Nov. 14 by the Democracy Corps…the other released Nov. 16 by the Public Religion Research Institute – reveal the decisively liberal views of the core constituencies within the rising American electorate and its support for government activism, especially measures to help the disadvantaged.
The findings from the P.R.R.I. survey are very illuminating:
*When voters were asked whether cutting taxes or investing in education and infrastructure is the better policy to promote economic growth, the constituencies of the new liberal electorate consistently chose education and infrastructure by margins ranging from 2-1 to 3-2 — African Americans by 62-33, Hispanics by 61-37, never-married men by 56-38, never-married women by 64-30, voters under 30 by 63-34, and those with post-graduate education by 60-33.
Conservative constituencies generally chose lowering taxes by strong margins — whites by 52-42, married men by 59-34, married women by 51-44, all men by 52-41; older voters between the ages of 50 and 65 by 54-42.
*The constituencies that make up the rising American electorate are firmly in favor of government action to reduce the gap between rich and poor, by 85-15 among blacks, 74-26 for Hispanics; 70-30 never-married men; 83-15 never-married women; and 76-24 among voters under 30. Conservative groups range from lukewarm to opposed: 53-47 for men; 53-47 among voters 50-65; 46-54 among married men; 52-47 among all whites.
One of the clearest divides between the rising American electorate and the rest of the country is in responses to the statement “Government is providing too many social services that should be left to religious groups and private charities. Black disagree 67-32; Hispanics disagree 57-40; never-married women 70-27; never-married men, 59-41; young voters, 66-34; and post-grad, 65-34. Conversely, whites agree with the statement 54-45; married men agree, 60-39; married women, 55-44; all men, 55-43.
The Democracy Corps survey specifically broke out the collective views of the liberal alliance and contrasted them with the views of those on the right. Some findings:
*By a margin of 60-13, voters on the left side of the spectrum favor raising taxes on incomes above $1 million, while voters outside of the left are much less supportive, 39-25. In the case of raising the minimum wage, the left backs a hike by an overwhelming 64-6 margin, while those on the right are far less supportive, 32-18. The rising American electorate backs raising the minimum wage by 64-6, while the people outside it back a hike by just 32-18. The left coalition supports a carbon tax or fee by 43-14 while right-leaning voters are opposed, 37-24.
Policies supported by the rising American electorate — which closely overlaps with the Obama coalition — provoke intense opposition from the right. In the aftermath of the election, Romney blamed his defeat on the “gifts” Obama handed out to “the African-American community, the Hispanic community and young people.”
In fact, the rising American electorate represents a direct threat to the striking array of government benefits for the affluent that the conservative movement has won over the past 40 years. These include the reduction of the top income tax rate from 50 percent in 1986 to 35 percent; the 15 percent tax rate on dividend and capital gains income, which was 39.9 percent in 1977; the lowering of the top estate tax rate from 70 percent in 1981, with just $175,000 exempted from taxation, to a top rate of 35 percent this year with $5.1 million exempted from taxation.