Tuesday, July 23, 2024

OPINION: Multiplication of division

by BRENT REGAN/Common Sense
| June 7, 2024 1:00 AM

America is divided. Ask most anyone and they would likely agree. However, you may not get consensus on the reason for the division, or where the fracture actually lies. It is as if we have a general feeling of division but among your known circle of friends and acquaintances, specific boundaries of disagreement become blurred.

The division nationally is evident in the Republican vs. Democrat makeup of Congress and the ubiquitous polling which seemingly documents the splits on various topics from abortion to the economy to presidential candidate preference. We are told these factions exist and the scope of their existence, but it is difficult to find those proportions within your immediate relationships. Polling tells us that for 20% of the electorate, the Trump felony conviction had a negative impact on their likelihood to vote for Trump. I know hundreds of people and not a single one is a member of this “one in five” group.

Could it be that these sharp divides are synthetic, a product of media “programming?” Is it possible that opinions formed about matters where we do not have direct contact are determined by which media we consume? If that is true, then the media is actually the source of the division, and the next question is “why?”

Earlier this year, pollster Scott Rasmussen conducted a first survey designed to reveal the opinions of those that control the media and other institutions; to see if they are the font of our national divisions. The results were eye-opening. 

Rasmussen identified a segment of the population he called the Elite 1%. Their defining characteristics are that they have an income of more than $150,000 per year, they live in densely populated urban centers and they have a postgraduate degree from one of 12 Ivy League schools (Harvard, Princeton, Yale, MIT, Cornell, Berkley, Stanford, Columbia, Johns Hopkins, University of Chicago, Northwestern and University of Pennsylvania).

Rasmussen’s methodology was to aggregate more than 20 separate surveys to achieve a statistically accurate sampling of the Elite 1%. He found that 73% identified as Democrats, 67% were between the ages of 35 and 54, that 86% were White and that 47% supported Bernie Sanders-like socialist policies. 

The opinions of the Elites are radically different than the average voter. 57% of voters believe there is not enough individual freedom while only 21% of Elites share that view. 47% of Elites say there is too much individual freedom compared to 16% of voters when asked that same question. This is nearly a three to one divide. But it gets worse. 

There is a subset of the Elites that is “politically obsessed” which is defined as engaging in political discussion at least once a day. 69%, over two thirds, of politically obsessed Elites believe there is too much individual freedom in America.

Public trust in government has been declining over the last 60 years while the size and scope of the administrative state has been steadily rising. 14% of voters trust the government will do the right thing most of the time. Among the Elites that number is 70%, five times higher. 

That divide is reflected in people’s trust in the professional class of occupations. 6% of voters have a favorable opinion of members of Congress but among Elites that number is 69%. Journalists are trusted by 10% of the voters versus 71% of the Elites. Voters trust 17% of professors while the Elites trust 76%. 

More than three quarters of Elites would like to impose strict restriction to fight climate change. This includes banning gas-powered cars, gas-burning stoves, sport utility vehicles, non-essential air travel, private air conditioning and meat. More than three quarters of voters oppose such bans.  

Voters see immigration as one of the top three problems facing America. Of the Elites, not a single respondent mentioned border security or immigration as a concern, and 29% believe China is an ally while less than one in 10 voters share that view. 

By far the most stunning fact to be revealed by Rasmussen is in regard to election integrity. 93% of Americans say that they would rather lose an election than cheat. Ask that same question to Elites and 35% would rather cheat than lose an election. If you think that is shocking, among the politically obsessed Elites, a disturbing 69%, over two thirds, say they would rather cheat than lose an election. 

Early in the 20th century, Woodrow Wilson ushered in the dawn of Progressive Thinking. He called for “a corps of civil servants prepared by a special schooling” whose role was to “make public opinion willing to listen and then see to it that it listens to the right thing.”

Elites occupy positions of great power in all segments of our society and economy. Our top educational institutions were captured in the early 20th century by progressive thought which has since metastasized throughout the ruling class.  

Clearly, the positions and views among the Elite 1% are radically different than those of the average person. Because of the power and influence, these differences are amplified, especially through the media. 

Perhaps what we perceive as a national division is only the radical views of one percent of the population that is amplified to appear much larger. 

It’s just common sense.

• • •

Brent Regan is chairman of the Kootenai County Republican Central Committee.