by Andrew Trunsky
Americans largely agree on rights and values that they deem fundamental to the United States, a Harvard University Carr Center poll shows, despite all-time high political polarization.
The survey shows that over 70% of Americans “have more in common with each other than people think” and that they favor an expansive view of rights beyond those in the Constitution. The poll also shows that most Americans believe those rights are under threat.
“Overall, I think Americans want not to be as divided as politics are forcing it to be, and that’s probably the biggest message of this poll,” John Shattuck, the director of the Carr Center team that commissioned the poll, told Politico.
“Division is not what most Americans are seeking,” he said.
Over 80% of those surveyed said they believed that “America is nothing” without the freedoms that the nation grants, and indicated that those freedoms extend to issues including health care, the environment, privacy and more.
Ninety-four percent of Democrats and 95% of Republicans said that they believed access to clean air and water to be an “essential” right, while 94% of Democrats and 91% of Republicans said the same regarding access to a quality education, the survey shows.
Those surveyed also said they believed that access to “protection of personal data,” “affordable health care” and “a job” qualified as essential rights as well, with 93%, 89% and 85% of respondents saying so, respectively.
Over 90% of the adults surveyed said that voting, equal protection under the law, free speech, equal opportunity and racial equality were “essential rights important to being an American” as well, 90% said the same for religious liberty, 73% said the same regarding the right to bear arms and 71% said the same for LGBTQ rights.
Despite widespread agreement over what qualified as a right, a majority of those surveyed believe that their rights are “not very secure,” according to the poll, with over half of voters considering either “government” or “politicians” to be the greatest threat to voting, equal protection, free speech, equal opportunity, privacy and racial equality.
Additionally, while 87% of those surveyed said that the “government has a responsibility to protect the lives, livelihoods and rights of all Americans,” less than half agreed that the government was doing an acceptable job in doing so.
“There’s a strong belief that rights are under threat and that the principal dangers are coming from government and politicians,” Shattuck said. “I guess my concern here is that democracy is really at risk when the very values that Americans believe they have in common are under attack.”
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Andrew Trunsky is a reporter at Daily Caller News Foundation.
Photo “We the People” by Michael Brown CC2.0