The American Dream – A Look at What Americans Really Want in the 21st Century
What do Americans really want? Here’s what they think about hot (and controversial) issues today.
Gun Violence: Survey results released by National Research in 2022 showed that 62 percent of Americans believe that not enough has been done to address these issues, and nearly three in five Americans want stronger gun laws. According to the New York Times, more than 90 percent of the American public support universal background checks for guns.
Abortion: A majority (6/10) of Americans believe that abortion should be legal in all, or most, cases. A study conducted by the Pew Research Center in 2019 found that 59% of Americans believe that states are making it too difficult to receive an abortion. As recently as February of 2022, a record-high 69% of adults in the U.S. are dissatisfied with abortion laws, including 46% who believe that abortion laws should be made less strict, marking a 16-percentage-point jump since January of 2022. 26% of Americans are satisfied with current abortion policies.
LGBTQ+ Rights: A majority of U.S. adults across age groups have expressed support for laws and policies that would protect transgender individuals and their rights. According to the Pew Research Center, an average of 70% of adults aged 18 – 49, and an average of 60% of adults aged 50+, have expressed support for laws that would protect them from discrimination in jobs, housing, and public spaces such as restaurants and stores.
Results of a recent poll conducted by The Human Rights Campaign released in September of 2022 show that “nearly two-thirds (64%) of likely voters in battleground states want same-sex marriage protections to be law of the land.” These states include Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Michigan, North Carolina, New Hampshire, Nevada, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin.
Critical Race Theory and Book Bans in Schools: While a very slim majority of Americans (51%) that participated in a national poll hold negative views about critical race theory (a way of understanding how American racism has shaped public policy), three-quarters of them believe that public schools should “be allowed to teach about ideas and historical events that might make some students uncomfortable”.
In an analysis of six high-quality voter-facing polls from 2022, Every Library Institute found that a mere 8% of voters think that “there are many books that are inappropriate and should be banned”, while a vast majority (91%) strongly or somewhat agree with the statement “if you don’t like a book at the library, don’t check it out”.
Climate Change: According to a survey conducted by the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication, 72% of Americans surveyed think that global warming is happening, compared to the 12% who do not. This corroborates results from a national survey conducted by the Pew Research Center in 2020 which found that a majority (65%) of U.S. adults not only want the government to play a larger role in fighting climate change, but they believe that the federal government is doing too little to reduce the effects of climate change.
Healthcare: A majority of Americans – 55% – support Medicare for All, while 58% of voters support the idea of increasing taxes on households making over $400,000 yearly to pay for Medicare.
Now, we’ve taken a look at some of the issues that have been at the forefront of the political conversation as of late, and it appears that what the majority of Americans want is not necessarily what we’re getting. So how do we affect change? We take these opinions and beliefs where they really matter – to the ballot box. We vote, and we make our voices heard. Not only can we let our leaders and elected officials know what values truly matter to us, but we can hold those accountable who would rather use their power to benefit the few, as opposed to the majority. And that is where the American Dream truly lies.
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