For over 20 years, our country has perceived itself as more divided than united, and it's not getting better. Right after the 2016 election, a poll conducted by Gallup found that 77% of Americans felt the country was divided on the most important values, a record high.
The percentage of Americans who agree that we disagree got higher. During the 2018 mid-term elections, a poll conducted by NBC News/Wall Street Journal found that 80% of Americans felt the nation was "mainly" or "totally" divided.
We head into the 2020 presidential election more divided than ever. A new poll from USA Today found that nine out of ten respondents felt it was important to do something about the conflict in our country. We can't keep on living like this forever.
Interestingly, three out of four respondents felt that they saw more agreement among Americans than is portrayed by political leaders and news organizations. They felt that divisions were both "exacerbated and exaggerated" to benefit those vested interests while hurting normal people. 78% of respondents said that political leaders "promoted a mostly destructive public debate." 74% of people felt that way about social media, and 59% said the same of journalism and the news media. Only religious leaders and "ordinary people" were the two groups viewed as having a constructive influence on society.
Most people would rather vote for a uniter, not a divider. Nine out of 10 people said that they wanted someone in office who "actively works toward unifying the country and making it less divisive." However, they feel that we're not currently getting that. 43% of respondents said the presidential election is bringing out the worst in Americans. Only 6% of people said it was bringing out the best. 50% of respondents said it was bringing out the best and the worst.
There is hope for our country. Most Americans want to fix the problem and do see the problem as fixable, as long as we have constructive conversations. Only one in 10 respondents said that Americans had too many disagreements on core values, implying that the rift is fixable if we come together.
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Most people feel the country is a giant dumpster fire, with only 28% of respondents feeling it was going in the right direction. However, Americans are more optimistic when it comes to other aspects of their lives. 87% of respondents also said that their personal lives were going in the right direction, and 69% of respondents said their communities were going in the right direction.
While we may not agree on everything, we at least agree on a common point. We all want the great divide to end. Hopefully, we can work together to become one nation, indivisible once again.
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