Donald Trump thinks that attacking NFL players who kneel during the national anthem will win him points with his racist supporters. A new poll, however, shows that the vast majority of American voters believe that players who exercise their constitutional rights by taking a knee are not being unpatriotic.
According to a Quinnipiac University poll 58 percent of Americans think that the protests by the NFL players are not disrespectful of America. Just 35 percent of poll respondents thought that taking a knee was an unpatriotic thing to do.
As would be expected there is much difference in responses based on political party affiliation. Republican voters say 70 – 23 percent that the protesting NFL players are being unpatriotic by kneeling during the national anthem.
By a margin of 82 – 16 percent Democrats say the players have a right to protest, while independents say they have such a right by a margin of 54 – 42 percent.
The poll surveyed attitudes of Americans about the players who protest police shootings of unarmed black men by taking a knee during the traditional playing of the Star Spangled Banner before professional sporting contests.
According to Quinnipiac:
- American voters support 51 – 42 percent the new NFL policy requiring players on the field to stand for the National Anthem.
- Independent voters are divided as 49 percent support this policy, with 44 percent opposed.
- Voters oppose 51 – 44 percent fining NFL teams if players on the field do not stand for the National Anthem.
- Men are divided 47 – 48 on the fining measure. Women oppose it 54 – 40 percent.
“Voters are clearly torn on the National Anthem issue. They seem to be saying, ‘You can still love your country and kneel during its Anthem,’ but the NFL’s new ‘must stand’ mandate is fine with them, too,” said Tim Malloy, of the Quinnipiac University Poll. “As for teams that defy the new rule, Americans say, ‘Don’t throw a flag on them.’”
In other findings of the poll:
- 59 percent of American voters say race relations in the U.S. have gotten worse in the last five years,
- 10 percent of Americans say race relations have gotten better, and
- 30 percent say race relations are the same as they have always been.
- American voters disapprove 61 – 33 percent of the way President Donald Trump is handling race relations.
The national debate over athletes protesting police violence during NFL games was inflamed again on Monday when President Trump revoked his invitation to the White House of the NFL Champion Philadelphia Eagles. Trump’s move came after many Eagles players said they would boycott the White House visit.
Trump’s comments have sparked a backlash from many prominent professional athletes who have criticized him for characterizing as unpatriotic protests which are protected under the U.S. Constitution. Based on the new poll, barely one-third of Americans support the president’s position, and that is bad news for him and Republicans facing voters in the November midterm elections.
I am a lifelong Democrat with a passion for social justice and progressive issues. I have degrees in writing, economics and law from the University of Iowa.