Monday, July 28, 2014

"Polarization" Or Right Vs. Wrong?


In an article at Io9.com, "It's Been 150 Years Since the U.S. Was This Politically Polarized," "A new survey from the Pew Research Center reveals that political polarization in the United States has reached a dangerous extreme. The gap between what Democrats and Republicans believe is enormous, with almost no center ground. We haven't seen such strong polarization since the Civil War..."

It's Been 150 Years Since the U.S. Was This Politically Polarized
Photo by Andrew Kuznetsov
Here's a broad overview of the problem.

It's Been 150 Years Since the U.S. Was This Politically Polarized

But is it really "polarization," or is it Right Vs. Wrong?  Let's see...

"Partisan animosity has increased substantially over the same period. In each party, the share with a highly negative view of the opposing party has more than doubled since 1994. Most of these intense partisans believe the opposing party's policies "are so misguided that they threaten the nation's well-being."

"On measure after measure – whether primary voting, writing letters to officials, volunteering for or donating to a campaign – the most politically polarized are more actively involved in politics, amplifying the voices that are the least willing to see the parties meet each other halfway..."

"Pew also found that "ideological silos' are now common on both the left and right. People with down-the-line ideological positions disagree over where they want to live, the kind of people they want to live around and even whom they would welcome into their families.

"For instance:

Liberals would rather live in cities, while conservatives prefer rural areas and small towns. 
Liberals are more likely than conservatives to say racial and ethnic diversity is important in a community. 
Conservatives are more likely than liberals to want to live in a place where many people share their religious faith. 
15% of Democrats and 17% of Republicans would be unhappy welcoming someone from the other party into their family. 
Just 35% of Americans say most of their close friends share their views on government and politics. 
That last indicator is an important one, because it reveals the extent to which those on the Left and Right have hunkered down in their silos. While only 35% of Americans say most of their close friends share their political beliefs, among conservatives, roughly twice as many say most of their close friends share their views as say many of their friends do not (63% vs. 30%). Among liberals, that attitude is less extreme, but still a plurality: 49% vs. 39%.

"As Pew notes:

"These indicators suggest that there is a tendency on the left and the right to associate primarily with like-minded people, to the point of actively avoiding those who disagree. Not surprisingly, this tendency is also tightly entwined with the growing level of partisan antipathy. In both political parties, those with strongly negative views of the other side are more likely to be those who seek out compatible viewpoints..."

So far, so good...until we see what the split is all about.



"The Political Climate."

"The Pew survey measured the extent of political polarization around 10 key issues that are traditional ideological flashpoints, such as the size of government, protecting the environment, minorities and military strength:

It's Been 150 Years Since the U.S. Was This Politically Polarized

Aha, "Polarization!"  Except on all of these issues the "gap" between Democrats and Republicans is a moral gap, not simply a convenient description. Let's look at the issues:

Government regulation of businesses is necessary for the protection of the people, and laissez faire economics isn't; as we see by the Medicare program, government is not always wasteful and inefficient; poor people don't have it easy and if we restore the progressive income tax we can eliminate poverty; blacks are not responsible for "their own condition,"; immigrants don't take our jobs, housing, or health care; corporations are swimming in dough; lax environmental laws may have pushed us beyond help in regards to man-made climate change; military aggression has almost bankrupted us; and no group except for Conservatives should be marginalized.



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The role of Conservatism has been to proselytize Eric Hoffer's True Believer  - the racists; the ecumenical Christians;  the "misfits,"...the "chronically bored"; the physically disabled or perpetually ill; the talentless; and criminals or "sinners"...In all cases, Hoffer argues, these people feel as if their individual lives are meaningless and worthless."

We're not polarized, we're fighting a battle between right and wrong, between the upper class and the 98 percent; between democracy and plutocracy; and between law-abiding Americans and the criminals that make up the vast rightwing criminal conspiracy called "Conservatism."



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"I know of no safe repository of the ultimate power of society but people. And if we
think them not enlightened enough, the remedy is not to take the power from them,
but to inform them by education."

Thomas Jefferson.

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