The Impact of Public Opinion on New York City Politics: An Expert's Perspective

When it comes to politics, public opinion can have a huge impact on the decisions made by elected officials. This is especially true in New York City, where the population is diverse and opinions are often divided. In this article, we'll explore how changes in public opinion have shaped the political landscape of New York City over time. According to Edsall, a columnist from Washington, DC, when the majority of voters prefer consensus to conflict, polarization continues to intensify. This phenomenon has been studied for more than 50 years and has been found to be present in all types of groups, formal and informal.

It does not discriminate between different types of beliefs, whether they are discussing banal issues of fact, issues of personal taste, or issues of value. The phenomenon operates regardless of the explicit point of the group's discussion. The ubiquity of polarization of beliefs is part of what makes it so perplexing. It prevails regardless of the nationality, race, gender, religion, economic situation and level of education of the members of the group. The social environment itself can cause changes in beliefs.

These indications do not have to be verbal, explicit, or literal; they can simply be implicit signs to the members of the group that some belief prevails among them; hats, pins, campaign signs, logos and gestures are all possible initiators of the polarization of beliefs. We can see this in action with current events in New York City. Republican politicians and citizens are optimistic about the American dream and pessimistic about the behavior of the poor; politicians and Democratic citizens are pessimistic about the dream and optimistic about the ability of the poor to succeed if given the opportunity. These patterns support beliefs about economic inequality both in terms of class and race. The variation between social and individual guilt is consistently associated with views on social welfare, taxes, and affirmative action. We concluded that Americans' beliefs about the fairness of the economy represent a crucial component of a redistributive rather than an anti-redistributive ideology that is increasingly associated with the two political parties. On the contrary, Suhay continues, many academics “lack increasing extremism on the political left”.

There is a wave of statements from the left that the economy is extremely unequal and that this is because our country does not offer the same opportunities to all its inhabitants. There has also been a parallel increase among liberals on the issue of “racial justice” both in the economic and criminal spheres. A third advance on the left has to do with gender identity. Democrats are increasingly saying that society must protect the rights of transgender people and the expression of transgender identity because gender fluidity is a natural part of the human condition and trying to curb their expression causes harm to people. The popularity of each view has increased recently on the left. There is more evidence that even people who know about complex issues are highly polarized for partisan reasons.

Their conclusions go against assumptions that elites are less polarized than the general public because they “tend to have more knowledge” which is associated with greater precision in beliefs. In fact, Lee and his colleagues respond: “The polarization of beliefs can remain unchanged or widen when accuracy increases”. The most important contribution of their study is to question assumptions that we will disagree less about facts if we know more. On average, elites are better informed than public but Democrats and Republicans remain deeply divided in their beliefs about these facts. Government officials are better informed than public but this does not mean factual divisions in our society will disappear. The polarization of beliefs is a reality that cannot be easily overcome. Most research on white racial attitudes and support for Trump assumes these attitudes are fairly stable predispositions that form early in life and later become important for political reasoning.

This implies politicians or political campaigns do not change levels prejudice but they can promote these attitudes or make them more or less prominent. The strong relationship between white attitudes toward African-Americans and support for Trump observed in previous studies is probably due both to white Trump supporters updating their responses to polls to give opinions more consistent with Trump's as well as Trump winning support from more racially antagonistic white voters. Similar results are obtained with respect to views on immigration. In an email Enns argued that strong association between white racial attitudes and support for Trump is part of tradition that assumes racial attitudes are fairly stable predispositions. In conclusion, changes in public opinion have had a significant impact on New York City politics over time. We can see this in current events such as Republican optimism about American dream versus Democratic pessimism as well as increasing liberal views on racial justice and gender identity.

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