President Trump’s proposed travel ban was back in the news last week after the Supreme Court agreed to hear oral arguments on the controversial executive order. In the meantime, the court ruled that parts of the ban would stay in effect until it hands down a full decision, noting that the only exceptions would be for individuals with “bona fide” relationships with individuals or entities in the United States.
So, what do Americans think about the travel ban as it now stands? A new poll from Politico/Morning Consult, released Wednesday, indicates that it’s a lot more popular than the mainstream media would have us believe. Six in ten Americans support restricting inbound travel to the United States from majority-Muslim countries. More on that in a second, but first some context.
Recall that Trump’s contested executive order would halt travel from six Muslim-majority countries—Iran, Libya, Yemen, Somalia, Sudan, and Syria—for 90 days and pause refugees from coming to the United States for 120 days. The point is to give the government time to review its screening procedures.
When the order was first announced in late January, the reaction of its opponents was pronounced and strident. There were protests at airports across the country. Analysts claimed Trump was trying to impose a religious test for people entering the United States—never mind that the order didn’t include travelers from the three largest Muslim-majority countries, Indonesia, Pakistan, and India.
The media coverage was almost constant, especially compared to the brief coverage of the attempted assassination of GOP lawmakers last month, and the conclusion was nearly unanimous: Trump’s executive order is bigoted and anyone who entertains its validity is also a bigot. The media also acted as if support for the order were fringe and far-right, running with the narrative that most of the country had reached a consensus that the travel ban was un-American and unacceptable.
Actually, Trump’s Position Is Entirely Mainstream
So the results of the Politico/Morning Consult poll about Trump’s executive order must have come as quite as shock to the enlightened members of the mainstream media. It asked respondents whether they support the State Department’s “new guidelines which say visa applicants from six predominately Muslim countries must prove a close family relationship with a U.S. resident in order to enter the country.” Sixty percent of respondents supported these guidelines. Only 28 percent of Americans opposed them.
So, are six out of ten Americans bigots? Does the majority of Americans hate Muslims, or want to stop all Muslim immigration? Perhaps the liberal media will be tempted to come to that conclusion, but the more tempered reaction is to see that is obviously not the case.
The poll results suggest a more straightforward interpretation: Americans are just worried about national security. They’re concerned that the country isn’t safe and that, like Europe, we’re not paying enough attention to who is coming into the country. Americans want to hear that their government is doing something about the rise in terror attacks, and this executive order sounds like a fairly reasonable action to take: stop immigration from six countries, five of which are more or less failed states, until we can make sure we’re doing whatever vetting is necessary to ensure the safety of Americans.
The issue at hand isn’t whether this executive order will prevent future terror attacks (I tend to think that it won’t but it’s certainly debatable). It’s about whether supporting it makes you one of Trump’s so-called “deplorables.” Despite the media’s efforts to suggest otherwise, it turns out that support for this policy isn’t just on the radical edges of the alt-right.
Note the Poll Didn’t Mention Trump
But possibly the most interesting and telling part of the survey is that it was worded without any mention of Trump or the ongoing travel ban drama. Previous polls that have included language referencing Trump and his executive order have produced varied results, including one last month in which 57 percent of Americans agreed with lower-court decisions to block the travel ban entirely. But by leaving Trump out of it, respondents were much more open to the policy itself.
Call it Trump Derangement Syndrome, or whatever you like. The fact is, since Trump became president there’s been a tendency for media elites, policy makers, and intellectuals to reject Trump administration policies in large part because of the association with Trump, with little reference to the merits of the policy itself. They are turning the idea of the cult of personality on its head. This also means that any agreement with Trump’s policies, from the economy to our strategy in Syria, taints you as a mindless Trump acolyte.
But love him or hate him, Trump’s the president. The only sensible thing to do is consider his policies on their own, one by one, divorced from the often ridiculous man who is our president. This most recent poll clearly demonstrated the need for this approach.
Regardless of your opinion about the travel ban, one trend is emerging. A lot more Americans are comfortable with travel restrictions than the media coverage indicates. That should tell you all you need to know about the widening gap between the newsroom and the reality of American opinion.