Fortunately, these respondents overstate the depth of our divisions. While the loudest voices often preach discord, most Americans share many beliefs and want to escape the toxic politics tearing us apart at the seams.
Regardless of race, class and gender, Americans want to pursue their dreams free from outside interference. Most people don’t expect government handouts but do want equal opportunities and to be treated with dignity.
These points of agreement are often lost because politicians and social-media companies gain power and influence by amplifying inflammatory content.
Overcoming the noise and reviving the American Dream must transcend words. The first step is to unequivocally reject worldviews that demand people think or act in a certain way and policy proposals that weaken our communities and institutions. The goal should be a diverse and robust public square where everyone is unafraid to participate in day-to-day life and discussions.
As a former Antifa activist and a former Democratic candidate for Congress, we’re no strangers to radical politics. But we’ve come to the conclusion — through our own research and experiences — that the quieter pro-American majority has been drowned out by the vocal anti-American minority, which gets a much larger megaphone.
One of us ran for office in 2020 as a Democrat to help steer the party back toward the center but soon realized the damage was already done — the party had begun fully submersing itself in radical ideology. The other one has spoken on more than 100 college campuses to face that loud minority head on and to warn students against political extremism, violence, censorship and critical race theory.
Research indicates there is more agreement on fraught topics than most people realize — and issues the political class completely misunderstands. Take the “Defund the Police” movement.
Per many in the media, most black Americans support the charge, but nothing could be further from the truth. Only 28% of Black Americans back cutting police funding, while 64% want more officers on patrol. A recent Pew survey found 17% of Black Americans believe violence/crime is the most significant issue they face, a higher percentage than any other topic — with racism/diversity/culture the top concern of just 3%.
But instead of listening to their constituents, officials in dozens of major cities slashed police budgets, resulting in crime spikes. This crime wave jeopardizes many communities’ safety while curtailing economic growth because it disincentivizes business creation and development.
Similarly, Americans want a robust and open civic discourse whatever their political views. An overwhelming 69% think efforts to “cancel” people for their past statements are unfair.
People want to be able to express divergent opinions without losing their jobs or being publicly ostracized. Diversity and differences in opinion are America’s strengths.
Yet viewpoints that don’t adhere to the orthodoxy of political elites are being excluded from the public square. Countless topics are being declared out of bounds by radical activists who try to impose conventions like the use of “Latinx,” which only 4% of Hispanics prefer. Cultural elites tried to cancel comedian Dave Chappelle because he dared to joke about taboo gender issues. These efforts failed, and Chappelle has only grown more popular because people are sick and tired of efforts to silence controversial voices.
The same closed-minded approach is penetrating America’s schools. Students often hear their race or gender defines them. Educators teach the myth that white students “play a part in perpetuating systemic racism” while portraying black students as victims.
This is ridiculous and dangerous. Children should not be separated into different groups based on their race but judged as individuals.
Again, finding common ground in education is easier than it first appears. Parents want to send their children to schools that focus not on activism but on teaching students how to think for themselves and work hard. Instilling these skills means concentrating on reading, writing, math and science rather than politically motivated programs about group identity.
Hatred and vitriol have seemingly reached a fever pitch, but that doesn’t mean all is lost. While Republicans and Democrats sharply differ about many issues, there’s also plenty of agreement.
Most Americans still believe this nation is a land of opportunity where all should be able to chart their own destiny and speak their mind. Instead of emphasizing our disagreements, it’s time to identify and focus on unifying issues, including funding the police, protecting free speech and teaching the next generation American values.
Barrington Martin II, a former Democratic congressional candidate in Georgia, and Gabriel Nadales, a former Antifa activist in California, are co-national directors of Our America.