Americans Agree With Bernie: Wealth Inequality is an “Urgent” Problem

Juan Cole recently wrote a compelling piece which argued that, despite media claims to the contrary, Bernie Sanders’ views on a number of wealth inequality and a number of other issues were squarely in the mainstream of public opinion.

Then, as if on cue, came more evidence to support Prof. Cole’s argument. A New York Times/CBS News poll released on June 3 found that, in the words of Times reporters Noam Scheiber and Dalia Sussman, “Americans are broadly concerned about inequality and wealth.”

“The poll found that a strong majority say that wealth should be more evenly divided,” says the Times report, “and that it is a problem that should be addressed urgently.”

The Times headline reads, “Inequality Troubles Americans Across Party Lines.”

A majority of voters expressed economic views which correspond closely to Bernie’s message. For example, the Times reports that “the percentage of Americans who say everyone has a fair chance to get ahead in today’s economy has fallen 17 percentage points since early 2014.”

“Six in 10 Americans now say that only a few people at the top have an opportunity to advance,” says the Times, and “more than half of higher-income Americans said that money and wealth should be more evenly distributed.”

Strikingly, “Across party lines, most Americans said the chance to get ahead was mainly a luxury for those at the top.”

Pollsters also found that two-thirds of Americans wanted to raise taxes on people earning salaries of $1 million or more per year, and that Americans favoring capping the income of executives at large corporations by a margin of 50 to 45 percent.

These findings show strong support for core themes of the Bernie Sanders presidential campaign.

Another poll finding also seems to confirm the potential appeal of the Sanders agenda. The Times reported that “Americans were also skeptical of free trade. Nearly two-thirds favored some form of trade restrictions, and more than half opposed giving the president authority to negotiate trade agreements that Congress could only vote up or down without amending …”

Bernie Sanders has been a leader in opposition to both the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement and the granting of “fast track” negotiating authority to the president.

The next time someone tells you Bernie Sanders is “unelectable” or “outside the mainstream,” you may want to show them this poll.