Time for another quiz! It’s a three-parter, and assumes you’re either a Democrat or someone who feels closer to the Democrats than the Republicans.
Here’s the first part. Agree or disagree:
- The United States should have completely open borders.
- The United States should abolish ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement).
- Most police are bad people.
- America should be a socialist country.
- Law-abiding citizens should have the right to bear arms.
- It is important that men be protected from false accusations of sexual assault.
- I am proud to be American although I acknowledge my country’s flaws.
Okay, let’s move on to the second part:
What percentage of Democrats do you think Republicans believe agree with each of the above statements?
And now to the last part: What percentage of Republicans do you believe agree with these statements?
8. Properly controlled immigration can be good for America.
9. Racism still exists in America.
10. Many Muslims are good Americans.
11. Sexism still exists in America.
12. The government should do more to stop guns getting into the hands of bad people.
13. Donald Trump is a flawed person.
14. People are right to be concerned about how climate change might affect us.
These statements were used in a report called The Perception Gap: How False Impressions are Pulling Americans Apart produced by More in Common, an organization dedicated to building “societies and communities that are stronger, more united, and more resilient to the increasing threats
of polarization and social division.” More in Common first caught my eye last year, when its initial report, Hidden Tribes: A Study of America’s Polarized Landscape, made a minor splash.
Like Hidden Tribes, the new report is descriptive rather than prescriptive. I’m still waiting for a study of how other democracies, confronted with the poisoned politics America faces, have surmounted the challenge — assuming any of them have — and how those solutions can be adapted to our circumstances. From my perspective, that’s how More in Common fulfills its mission.
The new report furthers More in Common’s thesis that our differences are exaggerated and Americans of rival political allegiance agree with each other more than they think. Here are the results to the 14 questions.
- Only 29% of Democrats agree that borders should be completely open, but Republicans estimate that 62% of Democrats agree.
- 47% of Democrats agree that ICE should be abolished. Republicans estimate that 60% of Democrats agree — not a big miss, really.
- A mere 15% of Democrats feel police are bad people. The Republicans believe 52% of Democrats think so.
- 38% of Democrats believe America should be a socialist country. The Republicans think 63% of Democrats feel that way.
- 68% of Democrats go along with the proposition that law-abiding citizens should be able to own guns. Republicans have Democrats at 56% — another relatively close estimate.
- Nearly three-quarters of Democrats (74%) feel men should be protected from false accusations of sexual assault. The Republican perception is that only 45% of Democrats agree.
- An even bigger majority — 82% — of Democrats are proud to be Americans, whereas the Republicans think only 54% feel that way.
- 85% of Republicans agree that controlled immigration can be good for America. Democrats feel only 52% of Republicans hold that position.
- 79% of Republicans feel racism still exists in America, while Democrats believe only 51% of Republicans feel that way.
- 70% of Republicans agree Muslims can be good Americans. Democrats estimate only 41% of Republicans feel that way.
- Two-thirds (66%) of Republicans feel sexism still exists, as opposed to the Democratic estimate of 47%.
- Almost two-thirds (65%) of Republicans favor keeping guns out of the hands of bad people. The Demos believe only 47% of Republicans so favor.
- Wow, an accurate perception! 48% of Republicans feel Trump is a flawed individual, and Democrats estimate 47%.
- Democratic respondents nailed this one, too: 46% of Republicans feel we need to be concerned about climate change, close to the Democratic estimate of 44%.
As with the previous study, I have a ton of concerns about the methodology of The Perception Gap. Some of the statements are troublingly vague, such as the one about racism still existing. If you’re a Republican who believes American society is biased against white people, you answered yes to that question, although More in Common was undoubtedly trying to get at how many Republicans believe racism persists against dark-skinned people. And when it comes to taking guns from “bad people,” who might those people be?
Nonetheless, I’m inclined to believe More in Common is on to something, and that good-faith political negotiation would lead to overdue progress on a number of issues. But then, like MiC, I have a stake in believing people have more in common than they believe; my first premise is that all of us are vulnerable, and that much, perhaps everything, we do — choosing political sides included — is intended to protect us against one another and our random, indifferent universe.