If you’re reading this, you’re probably cursed.

You probably follow the news. At least, you get your news and information from sources beyond the snippets and summaries that appear on the broadcast networks. You may have enough of an interest in partisan politics that you try to stay abreast of the latest fracas and the punditry around it. You are invested in political outcomes, and you take the obligations associated with citizenship seriously. If so, you are condemned to a life of anguish—one that is made all the worse by the number of people in your vicinity who are not similarly tormented.

The latest Harvard/Harris poll illustrates the degree to which hard partisans on both ends of the political spectrum are consumed by what the more well-adjusted among us regard as trivia. That phenomenon is most apparent in this survey’s exploration of how Americans think about a variety of institutions.

The most popular institution in America is Amazon. Seventy-eight percent of poll respondents have a positive view of the online retailer, while only 14 percent disagree. Following close behind, the United States military is viewed in a favorable light by 77 percent of Americans. Only 13 percent disagree. Next up, two-thirds of Americans look favorably upon local police departments. Just 23 percent express some level of dissatisfaction with police.

If you’re a voracious consumer of partisan views on the left, this consensus represents nothing less than a display of national ignorance. Maybe you don’t fully agree with the logic that led Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez to chase Amazon and the 25,000 jobs it would have brought with it out of New York City, but you understand her arguments. To work in an Amazon warehouse is to be treated like a “galley slave.” Organized labor is locked in an existential struggle with the anti-worker company, and it deserves to be encumbered with punitive tax rates (placing the emphasis on the punishment over whatever these new revenues might achieve).

The arguments against America’s jingoistic military and its brutal police forces are just as familiar. If a piece of military hardware makes an appearance at a civic event, it’s cause for an indictment of the United States and its addiction to bellicosity. The speed with which Democratic luminaries at all levels of government raced to embrace a movement to “defund” America’s police forces was a function of how deeply ingrained hostility toward law enforcement is on the political left. For those who honestly and genuinely hold these views—beliefs their proponents believe are informed by a wealth of evidence—it must be torture to be confronted with proof of how wildly out of step they are with the general public.

A similar phenomenon plagues the right. In particular, the most au courant among the American right’s pugnacious populists.

Avid consumers of right-wing media are presented with near-daily evidence of the perfidy that passes for good governance. They know that hundreds of billions of taxpayers’ dollars are being funneled into Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky’s “slush fund.” They know that the NATO alliance is a racket that serves only to shackle America to complacent, free-riding Europeans, diverting its resources away from its national interests. They know that the FBI’s conduct extends well beyond its narrow remit. The Bureau harasses and entraps its targets, a conspicuously disproportionate number of whom are on the right themselves. The FBI’s ends always seem to justify too many ethically and legally dubious means.

And yet, most Americans don’t seem to care. The Harvard/Harris poll found that, by 56 to 24 percent, Ukraine’s favorability is “above water” to the tune of 32 points. A majority of Americans have a favorable opinion of the NATO alliance. And 55 percent of those surveyed expressed positive views toward the FBI. It’s enough to drive you nuts.

This admonition of the politically plugged-in extends to present company, too. I cannot for the life of me understand why Facebook—a social media service that produces measurably adverse psychological effects in its users and seems to exist only to reinforce conspiratorial paranoia in those who are predisposed to that condition—is regarded in a positive light by 53 percent of poll respondents. Likewise, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has the backing of 55 percent in this poll. But why? Here we have an institution that was unconstitutionally empowered to violate private-property rights. It spent the pandemic dangling normalcy in front of Americans’ eyes only to pull it back if there was a sufficiently loud outcry among elites. And it did untold harm to its own brand by allowing teachers’ unions to treat education like it was a luxury. All this may consume me, but polling suggests that I am a weirdo.

And there’s something to that. The public probably has a more holistic—and healthy—view of these institutions and their roles. Sure, the CDC routinely embarrassed itself and bedeviled everyone else during the pandemic, but we got through it. That’s due in no small part to the efforts of the dedicated professionals who staff this agency. Maybe Facebook is a tool that can be abused, but what tool can’t be misused? And for every wacky intrigue your paranoid uncle has uncovered on the Internet, at least you’re still in touch with your uncle.

The police, the military, and the FBI make mistakes, but they keep us safe. Russia is a menace, and the underdogs it’s attempting to subjugate deserve our support. It is, after all, our commitment to the continent’s security that has produced the “long peace” in Europe, and peace benefits us all. Maybe Amazon is profit-focused, but so is every business. And do you really want to go to the hardware store today?

These aren’t ignorant or unduly fulsome views. They’re comprehensive. That perspective provides a useful check on those who spend their days sifting through granular partisan narratives and fixating on the suboptimal. And it’s not like this survey is entirely vexing. At least, almost everyone can agree that Antifa is irredeemably awful.

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