Keeping the American Dream in 2010 Alive

With or without government intervention? Public Opinion and Facts

Following a pro-longed debate over health care reform, a new legislative battle over financial regulation is under the way. What remains consistent in the public discourse and in Washington is the bone of contention: the role of government.

But what is it that we really argue about it? It could be many things such as the wellbeing of the people, the financial health of the country or America's leading role in world politics. In the bigger picture, a lot of what we are arguing and fighting for are embodied in the idea of the American Dream, that "dream of a land in which life should be better and richer and fuller for every man, with opportunity for each according to ability or achievement" (James Truslow Adams).

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A Government that Reflects America's Values

According to a 2007 poll, Americans define human rights as the rights to equal opportunity, freedom from discrimination, a fair criminal justice system, and freedom from torture or abuse by law enforcement. Despite the current political wrangling over how to reform it, a majority of Americans even believe that access to health care is a human right.

There was a time when America’s leaders echoed those sentiments. President Franklin D. Roosevelt embraced them when he told Congress, “Freedom means the supremacy of human rights everywhere.” And in 1957, President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed into law the Civil Rights Act, forming the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights. The Commission was intended to conduct critical reviews of social needs and public policy – in essence, to be the conscience of the nation. Regardless of circumstances or leadership, the body was to operate as an independent voice for the broad range of civil rights issues facing the country.

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Bi-Weekly Public Opinion Roundup

The upcoming November elections draw near, both Democrats and Republicans are in an election state of mind. Both parties are focusing on trying to appease their voter base, while Obama and his administration push forward to make due on some promises such as health care reform and the repeal of the ‘Don't Ask, Don't Tell’ military policy.

According to recent surveys 32% of Americans affiliate with the Democratic Party and 26% self-identify as Republican, while 39% identify as independents. Regarding the upcoming fall election, 34% of Americans say that they will definitely vote Democratic, while 37% say that they definitely will not.A majority of the public view both Democrats and Republicans unfavorably. 51% of the public view the Democratic Party negatively, and 57% for Republicans. Three- quarters of the American public disapproves of Congress, which is their highest disapproval rating since 1977. Additionally, half of the public would like to see the filibuster rule changed, in order limit back and forth politics of Congress, and ensure sure legislation actually can be passed.

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Biweekly Public Opinion Roundup: Americans' Agenda for 2010

Americans perception of today's affairs and recent important events, such as the failed terrorist attack on Christmas Day, the President’s State of the Union Address, and the persistent effects of the recession form their agenda for 2010. Although the public's top priorities for the Administration and Congress laid out by recent surveys show that priorities remain similar to last year (jobs and the economy), there have been some notable shifts. These shifts will have an impact on what will gain enough public pressure to get legislation passed in an election year. Let's take a more careful look at how Americans think about the economy, terrorism, health care, and immigration.

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The Real Reason Behind Increased Global Warming Skepticism Hotlist

American concern for global warming appears to have reached a nadir. Poll after poll indicates that Americans are more skeptical of global warming; meanwhile the Senate cap and trade bill appears to be going nowhere fast. As with so many other liberal issues nowadays, the news is grim.

Most pundits attribute this skepticism to partisan politics. The theory goes something like this: with partisan bickering at an all-time high, Republicans are tending to reflexively oppose any Democratic proposal, and vice versa. Because preventing climate change has become associated with liberals, Republican voters are now automatically treading against it. This <a href="">Times</a>. article exemplifies the strain of thought; it is titled “Rising Partisanship Sharply Erodes U.S. Public’s Belief in Global Warming.”

There is only one problem with this theory: it is not true.

On the surface, there is a certain credence to this claim. Most would agree that partisanship is “rising.” Belief in global warming is also undeniably falling. Add consistent conservative disbelief of global warming, and everything links together.

In fact, increased skepticism over global warming is not confined to the United States – as would be the case under the “Republicans v. Democrats” explanation. In Australia, for example, an October <a href="">Lowy Poll</a> indicated that only 56% considered tackling climate change a “very important issue” – a 19% drop from two years ago. More globally, an online <a href="">Nielsen poll</a> revealed concern about climate change falling in 37 out of 45 countries, compared to October 2007.

There is only one thing has affected the entire world since October 2007: global economic recession.

As the picture above shows, it is this shift which holds responsibility for climate change skepticism – not partisan bickering in the United States or leaked e-mails of scientific lapses. (Also note the graph’s previous decline, which took place in the midst of the technology bust.) When people’s pocketbooks suffer, the environment automatically lessens in priority. The immediate disaster takes precedence over the disaster that will come in fifty years. Or, if one is a climate skeptic, it may never come.

To give conservatives credit for increased global warming skepticism, therefore, would be akin (warning: bad sports analogy incoming) to claiming Pau Gasol single handedly brought the Lakers last year’s championship ring.  It is to miss the elephant in the room: the economy, stupid.

-- Inoljt,



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