The POLITICAL scene in the United States is about to change and the political climate is heating up with each passing day. Both parties – Democrats and Republicans – are busy preparing their candidates for the next big event – the 2024 presidential race. Although it is premature to predict the likely outcome at this point due to the mood of the people who present themselves. distrustful of the way politics is directed, controlled, managed and manipulated by the “big guys” of their country. It is no secret that elections in the United States are financed, supported and underwritten by large corporations and multinational business giants through substantial donations to run the party campaign and influence voters. The amount of party funding reflects the popularity of the candidate and, once elected, is expected to cater to the interests of big donors. This is how not only American politics works, but politics all over the world. Money has been the major element of political management everywhere in the world.
According to PEW Research, the public’s belief that special interests and campaign donors have too much influence over policy is not new. Since the 1970s, large majorities have affirmed that government “is run by a few big, self-serving interests” rather than seeking the benefit of the people as a whole. Yet money in politics continually emerges as a major source of public frustration. Most say the cost of campaigning keeps good candidates from running. An overwhelming majority (85%) believe that “the cost of political campaigns makes it difficult for good people to run for office.”
Members of Congress are widely seen as mixing financial interests with their work. About eight in ten Americans (81%) believe that members of Congress do a very bad or poor job of “keeping their personal financial interests separate from their work in Congress.” Americans believe that major donors have too much influence. Large majorities believe that large campaign donors (80%), lobbyists and special interests (73%) have too much influence on decisions made by members of Congress. In contrast, residents of members’ constituencies are widely seen as having too little influence (70% say so). A large majority (72%) – including comparable majorities in both parties – support limiting the amount of money individuals and organizations can spend. can spend on political campaigns. And 58% think it is possible to have laws that would effectively reduce the role of money in politics.
The United States is troubled by polarization and the philanthropic world is grappling with debates about what to do next. Some researchers say Americans are so polarized that they are on the brink of civil war. Other polls suggest that voters agree on many policies and that polarization is an illusion. Some philanthropists call for pluralism and civility, while others turn to activism, believing that polarization is a byproduct of change toward a more just world. So, is the United States polarized or not? If so, what is the cause of polarization and what are its consequences? Should polarization be resolved or tolerated? These are the big questions that dominate American politics today and which often remain unanswered. Yet such questions are real and require a solution, sooner or later. Just over a year before the presidential election, nearly two-thirds of Americans (65%) say they always or often feel exhausted when they think about politics, while 55% feel angry. In contrast, only 10% say they are always or often hopeful about politics, and even fewer (4%) are enthusiastic.
The survey also provides several opportunities for people to describe their feelings about the political system and elected officials in their own words. When asked to summarize their feelings about politics in one word or phrase, very few (2%) used positive terms; 79% use negative or critical words, with “divisive” and “corruption” being the most common. People were asked to identify the strengths of the political system, as well as its weaknesses. Among positive responses, about one in ten emphasize the structures of the U.S. government, including its system of checks and balances (12%), democratic freedoms and values (9%), and the ability to vote in elections (8%). . Yet it is telling that a majority of Americans are unable or unwilling to identify the strengths of their country’s political system. While about a third gave no answer, 22% wrote “nothing,” meaning that in their opinion the political system has no strengths.
These views and other negative sentiments are widely shared among older and younger Americans, white, black, Hispanic and Asian adults, people who are highly engaged in politics and those who are less so. And in most cases, partisan differences in these attitudes are relatively modest. In an era characterized by partisan polarization, the parties share little political commonality. But they share a deep dissatisfaction with the current state of politics. The impact of partisan polarization on the masses is profound. Ordinary Americans are more polarized than in the past. Partisan divides on issues are wider than they were decades ago, and many Americans hold deeply negative views of those on the “other side” of politics. Yet the public is also highly critical of the impact of partisan polarization on politics.
More than eight in ten Americans (86%) say a good description of current politics is that “Republicans and Democrats are more focused on fighting each other than solving the problems of the people and the country.” “. When asked to describe in their own words the biggest problem with the political system, 22% of Americans cited partisan polarization or a lack of partisan cooperation. Only criticism of politicians (31%) is mentioned more frequently. Most people (57%) also think conflicts between Republicans and Democrats receive too much attention these days. And 78% say there is too little focus on the important issues facing the country.
The chances of the Democratic Party winning the next election appear low at this point, primarily due to the policies that party has adopted. Trump will likely again champion the “race” factor in his campaign and it will be interesting to see how far he succeeds. Neither party is particularly popular with the public. Only about four in ten adults have a favorable opinion of the Democratic Party (37%), while about as many (36%) have a favorable impression of the Republican Party. A growing share of Americans express negative views of both parties. Currently, 28% of the public has an unfavorable opinion of both the Republican Party and the Democratic Party.
—The author is a former civil servant and consultant (ILO) and the International Organization for Migration.
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