Saturday, June 14, 2014

Ideological Polarization: Why It's a Rational Expectation in Today's America

So, okay, a  a new study by the Pew Research Center suggests that ordinary voters are almost as sharply divided as the lawmakers who represent them. The authors write, “Republicans and Democrats are more divided along ideological lines — and partisan antipathy is deeper and more extensive — than at any point in the last two decades. These trends manifest themselves in myriad ways, both in politics and in everyday life.”

That conclusion is based on “the largest study of US political attitudes ever undertaken by the Pew Research Center” — from January through March they interviewed more than 10,000 people."

The question is why this is even news. Given the Repuke Party has consistently denied reality (waging wars of choice still believing we will prevail, denying human caused climate change, denying evolution etc.) it is amazing the polarization isn't even greater - so obviously, if one is a true liberal (not a wine and brie variety) he or she will distrust any or all Repubs -whether in casting ballots, or holding office. One could call it a natural law. (As the graph shows on the right side)

Hence, no survey wonk ought to express any amazement that my opinion of the typical Repuke is only slightly better than the dengue fever mosquito or cholera. Still, there are significantly more Republicans who think that Democrats are “a threat to the nation’s wellbeing” (36 percent) than there are Democrats who believe the same of Republicans (27 percent).

I attribute a lot of that to the fact Repukes are more likely to be national security fetishists - who'd easily sell their civil liberties for a song (to the NSA)  if they could feel "safe"  24/7 from terrorists, and hence most likely to call Edward Snowden a traitor. Also, it's no surprise that Repubs are innate warmongers - most of them. They'd never met a war they didn't like, or a nation (weaker than the U.S.) they didn't want to butt into for resources, hegemony or the biggest BS of all, "democracy".

So, no surprise I do not trust this country being in their hands - in terms of the determination of national policy. I am sure they feel the same about me, but the difference is that their own specious delusions make their paranoia more unjustified than mine about them.

Another interesting finding from the Pew results is that the most innocuous citizens are also the least politically engaged, the so called "moderates" or what I call political dummies. They lack any compass for guiding principles, hence lack any ideology, so naturally  are less imbued with the energy to go out and dig into the deeper underlying  politics, agendas. Hence, they are less likely to KNOW what they are voting for or to vote in EVERY election, including mid-terms. 

Last night on Bill Maher's Real Time, guest panelist Krystal Ball acknowledged this as well, and suggested that, in her opinion, the best solution would be passing a law to ensure everyone votes - such as they have in Australia. If such legislation was passed and enforced, people (moderates) would have to get more involved and engaged politically and understand the issues enough to cast intelligent votes. 

I like Krystal Ball, but suggest her conclusion is a bit naïve. All the moderates will do is find the nearest "Voters' Guide" and use that as a template to do their thinking-voting for them. We will still have the hyper-politically engaged (the extreme Left and Right) and the inevitable polarization.

Is there a way to delimit the polarization and make it less severe? Yes, once the Repugs educate themselves and cease detaching from reality. Other than that, there is no way I am making friendly with any GOOp who really believes humans have nothing to do with climate change and it's all a "hoax" created by liberals and climate scientists to get grant money.

Having said that, I do live in perhaps the most conservative city in the nation, Colorado Springs. I just take care to only associate with liberals like myself.

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