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Right Now, Americans Are Polls Apart

March 14, 2004

Re "The Myth of American Polarization," Commentary, March 10: Eric Weiner is engaged in wishful thinking. The Gallup Poll taken last weekend shows that Americans are divided in their assessment of the job the president is doing and "that the divide in opinion is largely the result of an unprecedented gulf between Republicans' and Democrats' views of Bush." My personal view is that the nation hasn't been so riven by political and cultural disagreement since the 1850s. And back then, the voting population was relatively homogenous in terms of its ethnic and religious makeup. History also shows that many of the most vicious wars and disputes are of the internecine kind.

Alexander Wells

Los Angeles

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The two major parties in this country are almost diametrically opposed in their views on preservation of the environment, the use of preemptive wars, abortion rights, gay rights, tax preferences for the wealthy, how to deal with welfare, the degree to which basic civil rights are soluble in worries about terrorism, conflicts of interest in the actions of the judiciary at the highest level, healthcare as a right, Social Security entitlements, gun control, the explicit place of religious beliefs in the conduct of government, how to deal with future energy needs and current dependence on foreign oil, rising healthcare costs and a host of other issues.

I suppose Weiner and I really have no important disagreements. After all, we both believe that the sun rises in the east, 3+3 = 6 and that when you drop an apple it falls to the floor. Since we agree on these issues, by his reasoning, rumors of our substantial differences of opinion are just "a myth."

Arlan A. Cohen

Pasadena

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