To hear the mainstream media tell it, reparations to the descendants of slaves and providing free health care for illegal aliens are top issues in the 2020 presidential election.
Not so much, though, if you ask the American people.
According to a new poll, reparations find support from just 27% of those surveyed, while giving taxpayer-funded health insurance to illegals draws support from only 33%. Decriminalizing border crossings — which nearly every one of the 20-plus candidates running for the Democratic presidential nomination want to do — was declared a “bad idea” by a majority of those surveyed.
The NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist poll of 1,346 adults was conducted July 15-17 and has a 3.5% margin of error.
Last month, the Democrat-led House Judiciary Committee debated reparations, the first such hearing in a decade. In the Senate, Sen. Cory Booker, a 2020 candidate, introduced a reparations bill in April, saying, “This bill is a way of addressing head-on the persistence of racism, white supremacy, and implicit racial bias in our country.”
“It will bring together the best minds to study the issue and propose solutions that will finally begin to right the economic scales of past harms and make sure we are a country where all dignity and humanity is affirmed,” Booker said. “Since slavery in this country, we have had overt policies fueled by white supremacy and racism that have oppressed African-Americans economically for generations,” he said.
But Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said reparations are not a “good idea.”
“I don’t think reparations for something that happened 150 years — for whom none of us currently living are responsible — is a good idea,” McConnell said in June. “We’ve tried to deal with our original sin of slavery by fighting a civil war, by passing landmark civil rights legislation, by electing an African American president,” he said. “I think we’re always a work in progress in this country but no one currently alive was responsible for that.”
Yet Sen. Elizabeth Warren, another 2020 candidate, wrote on Twitter: “Slavery is a stain on America & we need to address it head on. I believe it’s time to start a national, full-blown conversation about reparations. I support the bill in the House to support a congressional panel of experts so that our nation can do what’s right & begin to heal.”
Meanwhile, Warren this month put forward a detailed plan to “decriminalize” illegally crossing the U.S. border by repealing the law that makes doing so a crime.
“Entering the country without authorization has always been a violation of civil immigration law, but thanks to a former segregationist Senator, it’s also a criminal violation,” the Massachusetts Democrat wrote in a post on Medium. “This additional criminal provision is totally unnecessary for border security, and for a century, it was rarely enforced. But since the early 2000s, it has been used to build and sustain a massive immigration detention complex.”
During the second night of the 2020 Democratic presidential debate late last month, moderator Jose Diaz-Balart asked the group to raise their hands if they thought illegally entering the U.S. should be classified as a civil offense instead of a crime. All but Sen. Michael Bennet of Colorado and former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper shot their hands into the air.
But the American people, the poll finds, are just not on board.