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Voters Show More Unity in the COVID-19 Crisis Than Their Political Leaders Do

Clarence Page, Tribune Content Agency on

Are we all socialists now?

In numerous intriguing ways, the pandemic appears to be pumping up the popularity of big government, even among (gasp!) Republicans — as long as you’re not talking about the current crop of the Grand Old Party’s lawmakers.

Republican lawmakers displayed impressive unity as Democrats passed President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion COVID-19 aid package without a single Republican vote.

But the package received a warmer reception from Republicans outside of Congress.

While conservative media have tried to distract us with chatter about “cancel culture,” Dr. Seuss and disputes within the British royal family, polls taken over the past four weeks show one-fourth to one-half of Republicans have endorsed provisions of the package to which their representatives didn’t give a single vote.

For example, a CNN poll released as the package moved toward passage last week found that three-fourths of Republicans favor provisions to fund a return to the classroom for K-12 students (77%) and sending stimulus checks worth up to $1,400 per person to most families and individuals (76%).

 

Both of those policies also had majority support across party lines. Some 55% of Republicans support each, compared with more than 90% of Democrats.

Similar results turned up in a Politico/Morning Consult poll that found only a slight drop-off from 59% of GOP voters to 53% after they were told it was the Democrats’ plan, compared with a drop among overall voters from 77% to 71% when the party label was attached.

One message I take away from those green shoots of bipartisanship amid the rubble of our current political battles is that voters may have a better sense of bipartisanship than our political leaders do.

After years of success by conservatives at turning “socialist” into a political career-killing epithet for even moderate liberals, I am reminded increasingly of a Newsweek cover headline that rattled national political chatter two weeks after President Barack Obama’s inauguration: “We Are All Socialists Now.”

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(c) 2021 CLARENCE PAGE DISTRIBUTED BY TRIBUNE MEDIA SERVICES, INC.
 

 

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