The Public, the Political System and American Democracy


At a time of growing stress on democracy around the world, Americans generally agree on democratic ideals and values that are important for the United States. But for the most part, they see the country falling well short in living up to these ideals, according to a new study of opinion on the strengths and weaknesses of key aspects of American democracy and the political system.

Some of the most pronounced partisan differences are in views of equal opportunity in the U.S. and whether the rights and freedoms of all people are respected. Republicans are twice as likely as Democrats to say “everyone has an equal opportunity to succeed” describes the United States very or somewhat well (74% vs. 37%). [p. 8]

About eight-in-ten or more say it is very important for the country that the rights and freedoms of all are respected (84%), officials face serious consequences for misconduct (83%), that judges are not influenced by political parties (82%), and that everyone has an equal opportunity to succeed (82%). [pp. 23-24]

More than half (55%) say the executive, legislative and judicial branches of government keep the others from having too much power; and 52% think the country is described well by the phrase “everyone has an equal opportunity to succeed.”” [p. 25]

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