What most Americans actually believe.
That's quite a claim. And it's presumably purely coincidental that this undiscovered majority is so sympathetic to the Esquire agenda.
Both Sides Now
The false ideology of Beltway-insiderism can also be found in this Esquire paragraph:
"To be sure that its findings were as far removed from the prevailing political interests as possible, the poll was designed and conducted in ecumenical fashion, by both the Benenson Strategy Group, President Obama's pollster, and Neil Newhouse of Public Opinion Strategies, who conducted the polls for Governor Romney."
The impartial observer might be more likely to conclude that hiring not one, but two pollsters for mainstream political candidates might be a way to ensure that its findings reflected "the prevailing political interests."
But that's corporate-centrist ideology in a nutshell: One politician is a partisan. Two politicians are the American people incarnate.
Neil Newhouse, the Romney pollster who seems to have been something of a silent partner in this enterprise, became known for two things during the 2012 election. He insisted that the Romney campaign "would not be dictated by fact-checkers" after it was criticized for deceptive advertising. He also insisted that Romney would win.
Newhouse is a top Republican consultant. Benenson has been described by GQ as is one of "the fifty most powerful people in DC," a fact his company website proudly proclaims, alongside a similar accolade -- if that's the right word -- from Newsweek. So this piece may merely reflect the biases of longtime insiders. The Benenson Group has done excellent work in the past. We certainly hope this doesn't reflect its acquisition by a multinational named WPP, whose website says that "WPP companies exist to help their clients compete successfully: in marketing strategy, advertising, every form of marketing communication and in monitoring progress."
After all, polling is not advertising or "marketing communication."
The raw data don't easily lend themselves to this centrist interpretation. There's no space here to go through all the issues, so let's take just one: government regulation. Most Americans are ambivalent about it. The conservative American Enterprise Institute think-tank captured that ambivalence effectively in its 2011 review of public opinion on the subject.
The Pew Research Center found in 2012 that most Americans (63%) agree with the statement that "a free-market economy needs government regulation in order to best serve the public interest," a figure that was essentially unchanged from its 62% level in 2009. But Pew also found that solid majorities believe that government regulation of business "usually does more harm than good" (a finding we would argue is the result of decades' worth of marketing).
The Esquire/NBC News poll shows that 42% of respondents said they agreed with the statement that "financial reform should only be used to curb abuses, and shouldn't interfere with banks' and investors' ability to make profits."
That's a slanted question. A "yes" does not necessarily mean Americans think the government is doing too much regulation, although there are times when Americans do think that. The operative word is still "ambivalence." But Esquire's editors nevertheless state unequivocally that the "Center wants the Federal government "to go easy on regulation."
Other phraseology is equally dicey. Esquire tells us, for example, that "the Center believes that the government should help only those who really need help." What does that even mean? Who supports helping people who don't need help? It's like the old Henny Youngman joke about the Boy Scout who helped old ladies across the street "whether they wanted to cross the street or not."
Even a "bleeding heart" like me wouldn't go for that.
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