The current debate…persistently exaggerates how divided we are…on core questions involving social justice, we are far more united than our politics permit us to be. A survey released at the end of December by Hart Research, a Democratic polling firm, found that Americans supported extending unemployment insurance by a margin of 55 percent to 34 percent. Several recent surveys, including a Fox News poll, found that about two-thirds of Americans support an increase in the minimum wage. […]
…most Americans broadly accept the New Deal consensus. We may disagree about this or that regulation or spending program. We may squabble over exactly how our approaches to policy should be updated for a new century. But there is far more agreement among the American people than there is among Washington lobbies, members of Congress or political commentators on the core proposition that government should help us through rough patches and guarantee a certain level of economic fairness…on matters of economic justice, we shouldn’t let a defective political system distract us from what we have in common.
“While it is true that the electorate is polarized in some respects, it is important to keep in mind that polarization doesn’t mean the public is evenly divided in its support for both parties’ positions. On many important issues, including raising the minimum wage, extending unemployment benefits, raising taxes on upper income Americans as part of a deficit reduction deal, and increasing spending on education and infrastructure, substantial majorities of voters, including large numbers of Republicans, support the Democratic agenda. The gridlock in Congress is largely the result of polarization that is asymmetric.”