Sunday, November 22, 2015

America unsettled

At least I hope that's the case. Being unsettled is not fatal. Various dictionaries define it as "disturbed" but also "likely to change." The former is certainly true. The latter offers hope for a more peaceful state of national mind.

Here, from Greg Sargent at the Plum Line (Washington Post) is the evidence from a recent poll and why it matters.

In the wake of the Paris attacks, the new Washington Post/ABC News poll portrays a nation fearful of more terrorist attacks, ready for more war (including sending in ground troops), opposed to admitting more refugees, and quick to dispense with any niceties about civil liberties ...

Here is some of the evidence.

By 81-18, Americans think it is likely that there will be a terrorist attack in the U.S. in the near future that will cause large numbers of lives to be lost.
60 percent of Americans want to see an "increased use of U.S. ground forces" against ISIS, and 73 percent of Americans want to see increased air strikes.
By 54-43, Americans oppose taking in refugees from the conflicts in Syria and other Mideast countries even after screening them for security.
By 72-25, Americans say that it is more important for the government to investigate terror threats, even if that intrudes on personal privacy, rather than refraining from intruding on personal privacy.

And there is this.

By 55-45, Americans are not confident in the ability of the U.S. government to prevent further terror attacks against Americans here.

Sargent concludes:

Only time will tell how deep these public sentiments run or how durable they will prove. It’s hard to imagine that the American public would seriously be ready for another protracted ground war so quickly after the experience of the last decade, prompted by a terror attack on another country. But we’ll find out over time.

As I've said here in this blog before, it's also unclear whether the heated rhetoric from GOP candidates and other politicians cranks up those public sentiments or whether the candidates are representing transient trends in public attitudes. Or both.

No matter. Let's hope we can regain a more settled America - soon.

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