Two different realities

In his keynote address at the 2004 Democratic Convention, Barack Obama said, “There is not a liberal America and a conservative America — there is the United States of America.” I used to find the speech, particularly that part of it, inspiring. But it’s come to the point that I have to disagree. The two major sides of the political aisle in this country are different Americas. Each group has statistics and facts backing up their views, which means that each group has a completely different perception of reality. Not long ago, I was watching Hannity & Colmes and saw that two anti-war protestors who experienced police brutality were being interviewed. One protestor said, “… The majority of the Americans do not wish for the troops to be in Iraq. So we’re representing the will of the American people. And helping to support our troops in their-“ At this point, Hannity interrupted, “You couldn’t be any more wrong.” He went on to say, “the latest Gallup survey showed that … the American people want to win the war, … so you’re factually wrong.” He also cited a poll that said U.S. troops, “not only want to be there; they want more troops there.” The protestor being interviewed kept trying to mention a Zogby poll, but was not allowed to speak. The Zogby poll she was referring to asked U.S. forces in various branches of the military in Iraq, “How long should U.S. troops stay in Iraq?” The response to this poll painted quite a different picture than Hannity did, with 29% of respondents saying “immediately,” 22% saying leave in the next six months, 21% saying we should withdraw between six months and a year from now, and only 23% said they wanted troops to stay “as long as they are needed.” Discrepancies in reality like these are all over the polls. War supporters talk about a poll that shows 74% of Americans disagree with the statement, “I don’t really care what happens in Iraq after the U.S. leaves, I just want the troops brought home.” War opponents talk about polls that show 63% of Americans oppose the war when asked, “Do you favor or oppose the U.S. war in Iraq?” The reason for these discrepancies lie in the way the poll questions are asked. I certainly disagree with the above statement. I absolutely care about what happens in Iraq after we leave, but I still want the troops brought home and hate the war. I also wouldn’t know how to respond to a question about wanting the U.S. to win in Iraq. Our goal has been switched so many times that I’m not sure what victory (or defeat) entails. I certainly am not going to say that I want to see our country lose in Iraq, but at the same time I don’t think the war is realistically “winnable”. So what are the consequences of these polls? In short, a liberal America and a conservative America. This becomes most obvious in another Zogby poll that showed 97% of Republicans believe in a liberal media bias, while two-thirds of Democrats believe in a conservative media bias. I do believe that each side thinks that it is trying to carry out the will of the people. But the will of the people varies depending on how you ask.