Sunday, August 19, 2012

Not Always So Different

Interesting article in today's Washington Post on the differences between and within the Democratic and Republican parties.  The  article reports on current and previous survey data to track the growth of partisanship over the past decade and a half.  Not surprisingly, partisan divisions have sharpened considerably.  The article also explores the divisions within each party, each party is seen as a mosaic of key groups.  Again, not surprising to anyone who has studied politics and parties in this country.

What struck me most, though, were the areas of, if not agreement, then at least some common ground.
Almost half of Republicans and three-quarters of Democrats say they favor a policy that would allow illegal immigrants to apply for legal status. And six in 10 Republicans, along with almost nine in 10 Democrats, say the government should regulate the release of greenhouse gases from power plants, cars and factories to reduce global warming.

There is also consensus on two international issues. Few in each party say the United States should play the leading role in the world. More say this country should play a major but not leading role, and around a quarter in each party would prefer the United States to play a minor role.
This tells me that a basis for building consensus is possible, even in this era of partisanship.  What we lack are leaders who will help that consensus find its voice in a society that no longer knows how to listen.

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