Posts Tagged ‘opinion’


It’s an issue that often comes up with my students. They believe the key problem in the country is the growing polarization between the two major political parties. Nothing gets done because politicians from opposing parties don’t seem to agree on anything.

But, as Robert Weissman [ht: ja] explains, “That story is not true.”

In fact, Americans overwhelmingly agree on a wide range of issues. They want policies to make the economy more fair and hold corporate executives accountable. They want stronger environmental and consumer protections. And they want to fix our political system so that it serves the interest of all, not just Big Money donors. These aren’t close issues for Americans; actually, what’s surprising is the degree of national consensus.

The problem isn’t that Americans don’t agree. The problem is that the corporate class doesn’t agree with this agenda, and that class dominates our politics.


The question in the table from a recent Democracy Corps/Roosevelt National questionnaire (pdf) is a good example. Fully 73 percent of those polled were (very or somewhat) convinced by the following story:

The rules that govern our economy no longer work for Americans. For 40 years, economic policies have rewarded large corporations and the wealthiest with the promise that their gains would “trickle down” to everyone else. It hasn’t worked. Instead we have faced sluggish growth and economic insecurity for more and more Americans with all the gains going to the top. It is time to rewrite the rules of our economy so small businesses and average American families have a chance too, not just the wealthy and well-connected. That starts with preventing corporations and CEOs from flooding the political process with money so they can manipulate the rules to their advantage. Then we can focus on policies that will grow our economy and level the playing field—rebalancing the tax code so those at the top pay their fair share like the rest of us, changing corporate governance so CEOs prioritize long term investments in workers and their companies over short-term gains and speculation, and ensuring banks do what they’re supposed to do and serve America’s families and provide loans to productive businesses. We can also raise wages for working people by guaranteeing equal pay for women and create more family-supporting jobs by investing in infrastructure and making college more affordable. We have the power to rewrite the rules of our economy.

The same is true on a wide variety of issues, from increases in the minimum wage to expanding Social Security.

American opinion is not divided. What is true is that the views of the average voter are trumped by a corporate elite that finances and writes the rules for political debate in the United States.

That’s the real gridlock that needs to be broken up.

union1 union2

Union membership in the United States, which has fallen to its lowest level in the postwar period, may finally have bottomed out.


Opinions of unions even seem to have recovered from lows reached in 2010 and 2011—while young people (18-29) especially have a positive (55 percent favorable versus 29 percent unfavorable) view of unions.

Now, the employees of Gawker Media [ht: sm] have voted by a substantial margin (80 to 27) to form a union, “a first for a prominent digital media outlet.”

the appeal of a union was clear to the employees, whose careers have been buffeted by instability and layoffs during the Great Recession and the unsettled economic recovery that has followed.


This one should be classified under Weapons of Mass Distraction.

According to Gallup,

Americans are now more likely to name dysfunctional government as the most important problem facing the country than to name any other specific problem. Thirty-three percent of Americans cite dissatisfaction with government and elected representatives as the nation’s top issue, the highest such percentage in Gallup’s trend dating back to 1939. Dysfunctional government now eclipses the economy (19%), unemployment (12%), the deficit (12%), and healthcare (12%) as the nation’s top problem.

Just when we need to get serious about discussing and debating problems like inequality, poverty, unemployment, and the economic system that has created them, the public’s attention is distracted and diverted to the insanity that has overtaken the nation’s political leaders.

New research on the tipping point where minority opinion becomes majority opinion may be quite useful.

The study, by members of the Social Cognitive Networks Academic Research Center (SCNARC) at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, concluded that

that when just 10 percent of the population holds an unshakable belief, their belief will always be adopted by the majority of the society.

That result may explain how the need for deficit reduction has become such a common sense among politicians, from both major parties, in the United States.

It may also give hope to those who, while still in the minority, believe that capitalism is a disaster and needs to be replaced.