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One Nation, Divisible

Stashed in: Wealth!, politics, America!, Politics Period

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"The source of our sense of disunity, it seems, is not so much the way we live, but the way our leaders do. When asked which figures in America do the most to divide our nation, every group in America, across age, gender, political party, and region said "politicians," choosing them at a rate of more than five to one over media figures, corporations, religious leaders, and others. Americans particularly blame "money in politics" and "Congressional gridlock" for driving us apart.

Americans think politicians are responsible for the other top driver of disunity, too: "wealth inequality." A remarkable 62 percent of Americans, including a plurality of Republicans, say elected officials "mainly reflect the values of the wealthy." Sixty-three percent of Americans -- including nearly half of Republicans -- say big corporations have too much power. In perhaps the most damning appraisal of America's current playing field, barely four in ten Americans say today's wealthy people got there by actually working harder than everyone else. Indeed, over 80 percent of Americans say that if we want to regain our unity, we need to shrink the gap between rich and poor.

No, Americans aren't feeling divided by a failure to agree on a set of common values; they feel divided by the failure of our civic and corporate leaders to represent those values themselves. In perhaps the clearest indication of our ambivalence toward our public leaders, President Barack Obama is called out in this poll as both the most divisive and the most unifying force in the country."

OF COURSE politicians divide the nation. That's their job, and they're damn good at it.

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