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Photo by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash

When 7 Out of 10 Americans Agree on Something, Can We Stop Calling Their Views “Radical”?

Throughout the 2020 election season, one of the most common talking points has been that we’re hopelessly divided. “Half the nation adamantly thinks one way,” the saying goes, “and the other half of the nation adamantly disagrees.”

The biggest problem with that sentiment is that it’s not true.

In reality, we overwhelmingly agree with each other on a range of issues. Surveys of American citizens repeatedly show that roughly 70% of us favor a public healthcare option, public K-16 education, taxing the wealthy far more than we currently do, public investment in green energy, $15 minimum wage, and much more.

These aren’t just surveys from left-leaning sources. A national survey of 30,000 Americans published on Election Night 2020 by Fox News showed the exact same trends—namely, that 70% of us favor changing the health care system so that any American can buy into a government-run health care plan if they want to, increasing federal government spending on green and renewable energy, giving undocumented immigrants the chance to apply for legal status, and implementing major changes to the criminal justice system.

And it’s not even just surveys. For instance, even though Trump won Florida, the ballot measure for a $15 minimum passed by a supermajority. In addition, every single one of the 112 Democrats who co-sponsored Medicare For All (another policy supported by 7 in 10 according to many surveys) won their seats while many other Democrats lost.

When 7 out of every 10 people favor certain policies, you’d think that those who favor those positions would be considered “mainstream.”

But in America, you’d be wrong.

In America, if you agree with each of the policies listed above, you’re called “extreme” or “radical” and told a lie about how half the nation disagrees with you.

It’s a surreal experience. You’re told that public education for grades K-12 is good and American, but extending it to K-14 or K-16 is “radical” — even though a high school education increasingly isn’t sufficient to get a job with a livable wage.

You’re told that Medicare is worth keeping (only 6% of us want to cut it), but all forms of universal coverage are a nonstarter—even though our country is abnormal compared to other wealthy countries in not adopting a universal approach.

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You’re told that raising taxes on the wealthy is “un-American” when in reality, our current rates are an anomaly compared to the past 100 years, which had way higher top marginal rates. (Were the Eisenhower tax rates really “un-American”?)

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Top total tax rates for the rich have plummeted while the relative percentage from lower income households have risen. (Source)

You may disagree with the majority of Americans on each of these points, and you may have valid reasons for doing so. But what should stop, in my opinion, is the knee-jerk reaction to dismiss these opinions as fringe positions. They’re not fringe. They’re mainstream. And those who espouse them deserve a fair hearing.

Writing about Mormonism, politics, and philosophy on Medium.com

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