America turns on Trump — we're not "polarized" after all

Another media myth busted

A quick pre-election pitch.

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As Trump's failed presidency limps into the final stages of its first term and he trails Joe Biden by historic margins, a key media myth is being burst right before our eyes. Instead of the deeply "polarized," bitterly divided country the press insists we have become, where every hot-button issue divides the nation by a razor-thin 51-49 margin, we're seeing swelling momentum of agreement. Poll after poll confirms the tide is moving away from Trump and away from the conservative agenda in America.

Picking up the electoral energy that was ignited during the 2018 midterm elections, a wide coalition of voters are not only opposing Trump, but are rejecting Republican initiatives across the board in large numbers. A silent majority of sorts, this partnership is often ignored by the press, which seems wed to the idea of portraying America as being impossibly divided in the age of Trump. In truth, Trump is helping to unite the country.

CNN's final poll of the campaign season this week found Biden leading Trump by 12 points. For context, that's compared to the four points Hillary Clinton led Trump by four years ago this week. More context: No incumbent has lost the presidency by more than ten poi loo nts since Herbert Hoover in 1932, amidst the Great Depression.

In one sense, America does remain deeply polarized in terms of how Democrats and Republicans view Trump. That's driven by the president's cultish following, which remains allergic to facts. According to the CNN poll, 78 percent of Republicans think the worst of the Covid-19 pandemic is behind us, the exact opposite of what Democrats think. One group is in denial, the other has accepted the scientific reality about the pandemic.

That divide is cavernous, in part because after four years in office Trump has been unable to win over any support from voters in the other party, a remarkable failure for any sitting president. At the end of his first term, nearly 30 percent of Democrats approved of Ronald Reagan's performance of office. Today, just 5 percent of Democrats approve of Trump's.

Yet, despite how critical issues are often covered in the press against the "polarized" backdrop— "re-opening" the country and wearing masks amidst a pandemic — the truth is America under Trump is not deeply fractured. Large swaths of the country are united in their opposition to him and to Republican policies.


© 2018 Gage Skidmore used under a Creative Commons license


Do deep divides persist in America? Of course, and they always will. But when you dig a little deeper, issue-based polling results are often startling in terms of the lopsided agreement that exists on key topics.

From the very beginning of the pandemic, Americans have been remarkably unified. Back in April, 66 percent said their major concern was that state governments would lift restrictions too soon, not too late. (By August, that number had increased.) The same percentage faulted Trump for being too slow to take action to protect the country.

In July, three out of four Americans, including a majority of Republicans, favored requiring people to wear face coverings while outside their homes. A strong majority of Americans today don't trust Trump when he discusses his own health, a stunning finding for any sitting U.S. president.

Speaking of healthcare, a record-high 62 percent of voters today support the Affordable Care Act — a seven-point increase in less than a year —and a whopping 79 percent support health insurance protections for people with pre-existing conditions. The Trump administration is currently in court trying to nullify Obamacare, and in the process eliminating consumer protection for pre-existing conditions. (More than eight million Americans infected with Covid-19 now have a pre-existing condition.) Meanwhile, 63 percent of American adults say the government has the responsibility to provide health care coverage for all.

This rejection of Republican ideas is across the board:

• Two thirds of Americans (66 percent) say that civilians need to have the power to sue police officers to hold them accountable for misconduct and excessive use of force, even if that makes the officers’ jobs more difficult.

• 62 percent said in a spring 2020 survey that the federal government is doing too little to protect animals and their habitats.

72 percent agree that climate change is happening. (Just 12 percent do not agree.)

• Roughly two-thirds of Americans say the federal government is doing too little to reduce the effects of climate change.

• More than two-thirds of Americans now support same-sex marriage -- record-high numbers. That tally jumped nine points in just three years.

• An overwhelming majority of U.S. adults (91 percent) say marijuana should be legal for medical use, while 59 percent think it should be legal for recreational purposes.

• Just 19 percent of Americans think immigration is a bad thing for the country.

The media obsession with the "polarized" narrative over the years has helped normalize Trump's extremist behavior. So often viewed through the prism of deep partisan divide, there's a suggestion that Democrats urgently oppose Trump simply because he's a Republican, and that any Republican in the Oval Office would be viewed the same way Trump is by his political foes.

Lost in that "polarized" translation is the central fact that Trump's behavior is extreme, undemocratic, and dangerous as he spends months, for example, aggressively trying to undercut public faith in elections.

Trump hasn’t torn America in two equal halves. Most of the country still has its senses.

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Trump’s whirlwind of campaign chaos, where every hour brings another breach of decency, might sometimes create the illusion that traditional conservative prejudices, such as racism, are no longer part of the election run.

Jonathan Capehart at the Washington Post has a an excellent new column reminding us how central that is to today’s GOP, “Jared Kushner, Peggy Noonan and White problems with Black ambition”:

The path of destruction is still there. The stereotypical notions of Black Americans as shiftless, too ambitious or not serious enough remain. As do the negative and sometimes fatal consequences of “challenging the white world’s assumptions.” What’s different today is that more Black Americans and Americans in general are not tolerating the nonsense of the likes of Kushner and Noonan anymore.

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Jamestown Revival, “Temporary Revelation”

If your nerves are becoming frayed during the final days of the campaign, here’s a gorgeous tonic. With harmonies courtesy of Zach Chance and Jonathan Clay, this California band, via Magnolia Texas, consistently delivers memorable acoustic journeys that ride a transporting, melodic wave.

Temporary revelation
We are no different than the beach
Keep on looking for a lifetime
Miss the forest through the trees
Sometimes I catch a glimpse of color
I can see it plain as day
But all these revelations
Always seem to fade away