Horowitz: Americans Beliefs in Democratic Values are Holding Up
Tuesday, May 01, 2018
“The public places great importance on a broad range of democratic ideals and principles in the United States today,” states the written poll report. “Across 16 democratic values asked about in the survey – including respecting the rights of all, having a balance of power across government branches and having officials face serious consequences for misconduct – large majorities say these are very important for the country.” For each of these critical values, more than 9-in-10 Americans say that that they are at least somewhat important for the country.
I found it particularly encouraging that 6-out-of-10 Americans say that it is very important that people agree on basic facts, even if they disagree on policies and that this opinion cut across party lines. People recognize that our current politics and government fall far short of living up to this value. Only 1-in-3 votes say that ‘people agreeing on basic facts, even if they disagree on politics’ describes this country well today.
As Daniel Patrick Moynihan’s famously said, “you are entitled to your own opinion, but you are not entitled to your own facts.” Without an agreement on basic facts, reaching the common ground required for principled compromise will remain elusive.
More fundamentally, democratic decision-making relies on the recognition of reality, the use of reason and the search for truth. When that is no longer at least the standard to which we aspire, an environment is created where autocrats and demagogues can thrive. The undermining of this objective standard of truth is part of what is behind President Trump’s reckless falsehoods and sustained effort to create an alternative reality. When people become unsure of the difference between what is true and what is false, a politics based on fear and division has a much greater chance to succeed.
In keeping with these results, Pew finds that “fewer than half of Americans (45%) say Donald Trump has a great deal or fair amount of respect for the country’s democratic institutions and traditions, while 54% say he has not too much respect or no respect.” Not surprisingly, this result is marked by a fairly large partisan divide with a much higher percentage of Democrats than Republicans believing the president has little or no respect for democratic institutions and traditions.
The hopeful takeaway, however, is that there is fertile soil for elected officials, candidates, activists and regular citizens who come forward and speak up for democratic values. A receptive audience awaits. In a nation that is defined by shared ideals--not any specific nationality, race of religion-- this remains our most crucial task; especially at this crucial time.
Rob Horowitz is a strategic and communications consultant who provides general consulting, public relations, direct mail services and polling for national and state issue organizations, various non-profits and elected officials and candidates. He is an Adjunct Professor of Political Science at the University of Rhode Island.
- Horowitz: Flynn Plea Agreement Spells Trouble for Trump Administration
- Horowitz: Believing You Can Get Smarter Improves School Performance
- Horowitz: Immigrants Drive American Entrepreneurship
- Horowitz: Attacks on Mueller Don’t Pass the Laugh Test
- Horowitz: 5 Reasons for New Year’s Optimism
- Horowitz: It’s Time to Revive the “Death” Tax
- Horowitz: Backsliding on Birth Control Makes No Sense
- Horowitz: Trump Makes Wrong Choice on Healthcare Again
- Horowitz: Bush, Obama, and McCain Speak Up for American Values
- Horowitz: Russia is No Hoax
- Horowitz: State & Local Leaders Fill Void at International Climate Conference
- Horowitz: Trump Gives Dems Winning Hand Unless They Overplay It
- Horowitz: Trump Turns Celebration of MLK into a Surreal Occasion
- Horowitz: Bolton - Exactly What We Don’t Need
- Horowitz: Parkland May Break Gun Legislation Stalemate
- Horowitz: Standing up for Speech That We Hate
- Horowitz: Stepped up Protests and Higher Youth Turnout Fuels Democratic Optimism
- Horowitz: Comey Goes After Trump Where He is Most Vulnerable
- Horowitz: Voter Intensity Gap Favors Dems This Time
- Horowitz: Mueller’s Indictment of Russian Election Meddlers is a Wake-Up Call
- Horowitz: Flake & McCain Sound the Alarm on Trump’s Attacks on Free Press
- Horowitz: State of the Union Provides Trump With an Opportunity to Reset
- Horowitz: The Memo Farce
- Horowitz: Broadening Opportunity Pays Off for our Economy
- Horowitz: Earth Day 2018 - Best & Worst of Times