by Aaron Foltz (Sider scholar)
A new poll out from Quinnipiac University shows that 77% of Republicans do not want their members of Congress to sign pledges to never raise taxes on the wealthy—77%, which is also known as a majority. This poll indicates that most Republicans are not buying into the rigid politicking that no-tax pledges represent.
Overall, 85% of Americans agree that no-tax pledges are a bad idea. In a political environment that can seem incredibly polarized, it is interesting that most Americans are eschewing the method of uncompromising politics that no-tax pledges represent. Most Democrats and independent voters support higher taxes on individuals that are making more than $250,000 a year, and Republicans are only slightly opposed to that measure (53% opposed, 41% in favor). Again, this poll is showing that the polarized political environment that is commonly portrayed might not be accurate.
Either of two things could be occurring: The poll is flawed, which is unlikely considering the source, or the image of an ultra-polarized American political environment is flawed. Media often paint a picture of an America deeply divided over differing ideologies. Pundits consistently warn of internal and external threats to the "true American way." Politicians talk about uncompromisingly representing what their constituency "really wants." If this poll is correct, then those images projected are a gross misrepresentation of the actual beliefs of most Americans.
While politicians play fiscal chicken over the fiscal cliff, this poll shows an American people that are much more willing to compromise and work alongside individuals with differing political beliefs to provide a better future for America. Perhaps Americans are going to hold their representatives accountable for the inflexible manner with which they have been conducting themselves in leadership. Politicians, if convinced by their population and not by corporations, could truly take their cues from the communities that they are representing and work across ideological aisles to pass essential legislation to avoid fiscal dramas.
This would be wonderful news for Christians concerned with justice for the poor and the oppressed in our country. God is not a Democrat or a Republican. Both political parties have elements in their platforms that would move America to a more just environment, which shows just how important it is to collaborate politically. President Obama has consistently extended honest offers to negotiate with Republicans in order to come to a just deal to avoid fiscal crisis. In John Boehner's reigning in of several Republican House members who were extremely divisive with regards to fiscal negotiations, Republican leadership has also taken a serious step away from the stubbornness that has defined the last four years. Willingness to collaborate on issues that are as ideologically divisive as taxation show a glimmer of hope that politicians are willing to move forward, look past differences and attempt to lead the country towards a just future.