Ac­cord­ing to poll, po­lit­i­cal di­vi­sions in coun­try widen­ing

Houston Chronicle Sunday - - LEGAL NOTICES -

Seven in 10 Amer­i­cans say the na­tion’s po­lit­i­cal di­vi­sions are at least as big as dur­ing the Viet­nam War, ac­cord­ing to a new poll, which also finds nearly six in 10 say­ing Don­ald Trump’s pres­i­dency is mak­ing the U.S. po­lit­i­cal sys­tem more dys­func­tional.

The Washington PostUniver­sity of Mary­land poll — con­ducted nine months into Trump’s tu­mul­tuous pres­i­dency — re­veals a starkly pes­simistic view of U.S. pol­i­tics, wide­spread dis­trust of the na­tion’s po­lit­i­cal lead­ers and their abil­ity to com­pro­mise, and an ero­sion of pride in the way democ­racy works in Amer­ica.

Trump’s ar­rival in the White House in Jan­uary ush­ered in a pe­riod of big po­lit­i­cal fights — over is­sues in­clud­ing health care, taxes and im­mi­gra­tion — and an es­ca­la­tion in at­tacks on po­lit­i­cal op­po­nents, over so­cial me­dia and else­where. The new nor­mal

Seven in 10 Amer­i­cans say pol­i­tics have reached a dan­ger­ous low point, and a ma­jor­ity of those be­lieve the sit­u­a­tion is a “new nor­mal” rather than tem­po­rary, ac­cord­ing to the poll.

The poll finds seven in 10 Amer­i­cans view the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion as dys­func­tional. But dis­sat­is­fac­tion ex­tends be­yond the ex­ec­u­tive branch: Even more Amer­i­cans, eight in 10, say Congress is dys­func­tional, and there is lim­ited trust in other in­sti­tu­tions, in­clud­ing the me­dia.

In the poll, 14 per­cent of Amer­i­cans said they view ethics and hon­esty of politi­cians as ex­cel­lent or good, down from 25 per­cent in 1997 and 39 per­cent in 1987. And 12 per­cent say mem­bers of Congress base their poli­cies on a set of core val­ues; 87 per­cent say they mainly do what­ever is needed to win re-elec­tion. Con­sumers con­fi­dent

Re­cent sur­veys have shown con­sumer con­fi­dence is up and stands at the high­est lev­els in the past decade, so it does not ap­pear eco­nomic con­cerns are driv­ing dis­con­tent.

Over­all, more Amer­i­cans say Trump de­serves “a lot” of blame for po­lit­i­cal dys­func­tion (51 per­cent) than the Repub­li­can Party (38 per­cent) or the Demo­cratic Party (32 per­cent).

The poll also sug­gests Amer­i­cans are us­ing po­lit­i­cal la­bels to de­fine peo­ple more broadly. Half of Amer­i­cans say that if they know some­one is a Demo­crat, that not only in­di­cates what they think about gov­ern­ment poli­cies but also how they live. More than half of Amer­i­cans said the same thing about Repub­li­cans.

At the same time, many Amer­i­cans feel less com­mon­al­ity with their neigh­bors. A 56 per­cent ma­jor­ity says fewer things bind Amer­i­cans than in the past, a view shared by ma­jori­ties across party lines and most de­mo­graphic groups.

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