Most Americans polled in a Pew survey wanted big changes in America’s economic, political, and health care systems.
Despite widespread discontent, few Americans have indicated that they are convinced such changes could happen.
Americans were generally more dissatisfied than residents of other advanced economies surveyed by Pew.
As the post-pandemic economy begins to take shape, most Americans seem to be hoping it will be very different from where it is now.
A majority of Americans polled in February said they wanted major changes or comprehensive reforms in much of the way the United States works, according to a new Pew Research Center report, which included surveys of people in more than a dozen advanced economies around the world. Eighty-five percent of American adults polled said they wanted an overhaul of the country’s political systems, while 66% said they wanted major changes in the U.S. economy. Just over three-quarters of those polled said major reform of the country’s health systems was needed.
Americans surveyed were generally more dissatisfied with the government than residents of other advanced economies surveyed. Desires to change political systems were higher only in Spain and Italy, with 86% and 89% of respective residents wanting major overhauls.
Only residents of South Korea, Greece, Spain and Italy were more dissatisfied with their national economies than Americans. The United States had the second highest proportion of people calling for health care reform, second only to Greece.
The results also reveal a grim outlook among Americans as the country heads for economic recovery from the coronavirus pandemic. United States overtakes recovery of many other countries as rising vaccination rates fueled reopening and high consumer spending. American economic output has already has fully recovered from its pandemic era doldrums, and officials say the country should return to full employment next year.
Despite these improvements, surveys revealed widespread dissatisfaction with the state of the nation. The investigation period covers the period when virus cases remained high, labor shortages hampered hiring, and inflation hit decade highs. While the recovery was underway, new obstacles were slowing it down.
And while most Americans said they wanted major changes across the country, few seemed optimistic that these revisions could take place. – 85% of those polled said they wanted major political reform in the United States, but only 28% expressed confidence that the system could change.
Part of the pessimism stems from partisan conflicts and a difficult political climate, the Pew survey says. The desires to overhaul certain systems are very different between Democrats and Republicans. While 80% of Democrats said the economic system needed a complete overhaul, only half of Republicans said the same. And where 39% of Democrats wanted major changes in health care, about half of Republicans agreed.
The partisan division is no clearer than in the 50-50 split Senate. Democrats have struggled to push through much of President Joe Biden’s legislative platform as Republicans block efforts with filibuster. Some of Biden’s social spending plans have been approved through the long process of reconciliation, which requires a majority of 50 votes. Yet the complicated process can only be used a certain number of times, and infighting between moderate and progressive democrats also poses a challenge to Biden’s spending ambitions.
Partisan divisions are part of the reason why so many Americans crave an overhaul, Pew said. Nine in ten Americans see conflicts between members of different political parties intensifying “discontent with the state of democracy and a strong desire for political reform,” according to Pew. Only 41% of people polled in the United States said they were satisfied with how democracy works.
Overall, the survey paints a picture of a country plagued by mass discontent. Few Americans reported feeling satisfied with the country’s political, economic, or health systems. Yet most of those who want major change are not optimistic about its possibility and show little faith in the country’s democratic processes.
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