About 70 percent of Americans believe our nation is deeply divided on most crucial issues. But while our differences of opinion often produce bitter debate and political gridlock, a review of numerous polls shows wide areas of agreement.
Apparently there’s much more common ground out there than most folks realize.
For instance, as The Associated Press reported in this newspaper Sunday, assorted polls document that roughly 70 percent of Americans surveyed support completing the Keystone XL pipeline, funding preschool for every U.S. child, raising the minimum wage and imposing congressional term limits.
The affirmative percentages rose to 80 or more for extending federal background checks to all gun purchases, strengthening border security and providing a pathway to citizenship for some illegal immigrants who meet such standards as having a job, learning English and paying fines and back taxes.
And it’s a safe bet that a vast majority doesn’t want the Internal Revenue Service picking its targets for investigation based on their politics.
Of course, poll results alone won’t ensure passage of immigration reform legislation this year. As for those congressional term limits, don’t hold your breath.
And the seemingly strong popular backing for a concept can break down over specific proposals of how to apply it. As the old saying goes, “The devil is in the details.”
Both sides of the political fence have helped drive Americans’ contradictory — and unsustainable — demands on the public purse.
Yet costly federal entitlement programs retain significant popularity — as does the idea of low taxes.
Meanwhile, the accelerating fiscal meltdown of Medicare and Social Security is further exacerbated by the ongoing advance of the massive Baby Boomer generation into retirement age.
However, though about 7 in 10 say the poor have grown overly dependent on government assistance, an even higher percentage wants more government intervention to make health care affordable and accessible.
Still, it’s reassuring to learn that we’re not as deeply divided as most of us think.
Now if we could all just agree that there’s no such thing as a free lunch.
Too bad that’s become a predictably hard sell in a nation where nearly half of the adult population pays no federal income tax.