July 23, 2024
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Sightings Over Sixty: State of the Country

Possibly you’ve seen reports about a Wall Street Journal/University of Chicago poll that recently took the pulse of American sentiment.

To me the amusing — and somehow sad — thing about it is that the conservative press (like the New York Post) screeches that the poll is proof Americans have fallen for the “woke” agenda. They have become soft and spoiled, interested only in money and pursuing their own pleasures. They are not as patriotic, not as religious, and not as family oriented as they used to be. Young people aren’t even interested in having kids anymore! In other words, America is in deep trouble.

Meanwhile, the liberal press sees the same poll and massages the numbers to prove that Americans are becoming more progressive, more tolerant, more open to new ideas, more cognizant of our impact on the environment, and more focused on peaceful resolutions to our problems in the world. In short, we’re becoming more enlightened.

Of course, they could both be right, couldn’t they?

I went to the original poll, which I found in a link from a Wall Street Journal article. Here are a few of the results that stood out in my mind.

The economy — 80% say it’s bad. 20% say it’s good.

Yet 62% say they are satisfied with their own personal financial situation. Go figure.

Will life for our children’s generation be better or worse than it has been for us? 78% say it won’t be. Only 21% feel confident that it will be.

Yet 71% say the U.S. is the best, or one of the best, countries in the world.

And 68% say they’re happy. 27% say they’re not.

How essential, or important, are these qualities in defining your identity? Here they are in order of importance:

  1. Gender: 77%
  2. Occupation:  73%
  3. Family heritage:  67%
  4. Religion:  63%
  5. Race:  62%
  6. Political affiliation:  53%

So it seems, despite the ranting of the left and the raving of the right, race is not as important as some other things in life. And politics is less important still.

How much confidence do you have in our public schools? 26% say quite a bit. 40% say some. 33% say not much.

Four-year college degree. Is it worth it? 42% say yes. 56% say no. In my opinion, that’s not a great report card for our schools.

Do you favor, or not favor, people using “gender neutral” pronouns like she/her?  20% favorable. 45% not favorable. 35% don’t care.

Do you consider yourself liberal, moderate or conservative:  Liberal 23%. Moderate: 47%. Conservative: 28%. Really? So much for the theory that our country is caught in a stark partisan divide.

There’s more in the poll. If you want to dig deeper and do your own analysis, here is a link to the original site.

Like the conservatives, or the liberals or the moderates, you’ll probably find just what you want to find in the poll. That seems to be how the human mind works. What do they call it? Confirmation bias?

But even assuming you see what you want to see — and disregard the rest — just maybe you’ll recognize that other people can have a different point of view, and just because they do doesn’t make them stupid or hateful, or know-it-all self-important elites. You, uh, do agree with me, right?

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