Go to HHH home page.
Smart Politics
 


English As Official Language: Democrats Misread America's Preferences in NH Debate

Bookmark and Share

Eight Democratic candidates debated at St. Anselm College in Manchester, New Hampshire on Sunday night. While the headlines from the debate focused on Iraq and health care, by far the most controversial stances carved out by the presidential hopefuls was their unwillingness to have English become the nation's official language.

The stance itself (for Democratic politicians) is not surprising, but it is controversial when viewed through the prism of the policy preferences of not only the America public generally, but also Democrats.

Last year, the United States Senate voted on a purely symbolic bill that made English the "national language" but not the "official language." The American public, however, wants a bill with actual teeth: three surveys conducted since 2005 all found supermajorities of Americans to support making English the official language. An April 2006 FOX News poll found 78 percent favored the passage of such a law. A 2005 Zogby poll showed 79 percent for such a measure. A June 2006 Rasmussen poll found 85 percent of Americans want to make English the national language.

Perhaps out of a fear not to offend the 10 to 15 percent of the country who opposes such legislation, the Democratic presidential candidates are, as a result, running away even from their Democratic base on this issue. Making English the official language is not a partisan issue—at least not within the electorate. More than two-thirds of Democrats in the Zogby poll and 79 percent of Democrats in the Rasmussen poll approved such a measure. Republicans supported the measure in even greater numbers.

To date, 30 states have made English the national language—including Iowa (in 2002) and South Dakota (in 1995) in the Upper Midwest. New Hampshire—host to Sunday's debate and the first primary in the nation in 2008—also passed such a law in 1995.

The introduction of English as a national language is being brought back into public policy debate in light of the new immigration legislation on Capitol Hill. On a national stage Sunday night, Democratic candidates carved out a position at odds with approximately 80 percent of the American public; this will not be a winning issue for whoever emerges as the Democratic nominee in 2008.

Previous post: Clinton Regains Lead in New Iowa Poll
Next post: GOP Presidential Candidates Stand Together For English As Official Language

1 Comment


  • Gosh! What good news (that a majority of the country agrees that English should be the official language of the United States of America). Our founding documents, expressing our deepest beliefs and hopes of what our nation would become, our governing principles, are written in English. If only to honor their extraordinary accomplishment, their language should be recognized as the "official" language of the nation they established.

    Once English is thus recognized and legally established as "official" (as it long has been in practice), we are more than ever free to make arrangements of convenience and appreciation regarding other languages (e.g., translations into their language of origin for newcomers and visitors; preserving Native American culture and language; teaching foreign languages in school, etc.) because there is no question of them having, through exposure, any intent of replacing English as the "official" language of the country. We have much to learn about other people, and about ourselves, through the study of their languages. They have much to learn about us through the study of ours.

  • Leave a comment


    Remains of the Data

    Which States Own the Best Track Record in Backing Eventual GOP Presidential Nominees?

    Nine states (each with primaries) have an unblemished record in voting for the eventual Republican nominee since 1976 - and not all host contests on the back end of the calendar.

    Political Crumbs

    Evolving?

    When Scott Walker "punted" back in February after being asked if he was comfortable with the idea of evolution he added, "That's a question a politician shouldn't be involved in one way or the other." However, it may very well be a question that is asked at one of the upcoming GOP debates this year. In South Carolina during the first GOP debate in 2012, FOX News' Juan Williams asked Tim Pawlenty, "Do you equate the teaching of creationism with the teaching of evolution as the basis for what should be taught for our nation's schools?" Pawlenty replied, "There should be room in the curriculum for study of intelligent design" but that it was up to the local school districts if it should be in a science class or comparative theory class. At the fourth Republican debate held in California, Jon Huntsman addressed the GOP becoming "anti-science" thusly: "Listen, when you make comments that fly in the face of what 98 out of 100 climate scientists have said, when you call into question the science of evolution, all I'm saying is that, in order for the Republican Party to win, we can't run from science. We can't run from mainstream conservative philosophy."


    73 Months and Counting

    January's preliminary Bureau of Labor Statistics numbers show Minnesota's unemployment rate of 3.7 percent was once again lower than Wisconsin's 5.0 percent. That marks the 73rd consecutive month in which Minnesota has boasted a lower jobless rate than its neighbor to the east dating back to January 2009 including each of the last 67 months by at least one point. The Gopher State has now edged Wisconsin in the employment border battle for 204 of the last 216 months dating back to February 1997. Wisconsin only managed a lower unemployment rate than Minnesota for the 12 months of 2008 during this 18-year span.


    more POLITICAL CRUMBS

    Humphrey School Sites
    CSPG
    Humphrey New Media Hub

    Issues />

<div id=
    Abortion
    Afghanistan
    Budget and taxes
    Campaign finances
    Crime and punishment
    Economy and jobs
    Education
    Energy
    Environment
    Foreign affairs
    Gender
    Health
    Housing
    Ideology
    Immigration
    Iraq
    Media
    Military
    Partisanship
    Race and ethnicity
    Reapportionment
    Redistricting
    Religion
    Sexuality
    Sports
    Terrorism
    Third parties
    Transportation
    Voting