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The Partisan Divide

 

Exhibit One: A Poll
 
First the Headlines:
 
Little Partisan Agreement on the Pressing Problems Facing the U.S.
 
Wide gaps in how younger and older voters view the midterms
 
The Biggest political problem in America, explained in one chart
 
What’s all this? Pew Research Center did some polling and found; “With few exceptions, wide partisan differences over the seriousness of problems facing the US. Majorities of registered voters who support Democratic candidates for Congress rate 13 of 18 issues as “very big” problems facing the country. Among voters who favor the Republican candidates in their districts, majorities rate only five issues as very big problems.”
 
But isn’t a different vision of how serious a problem is a usual condition in “partisan divides”. It is only when we agree on a problem that the divide in how to deal with that problem becomes apparent. Take the federal budget deficit. 56% of Republicans say it’s a big problem, and 51% of the Democrats. Pretty close accord there. Now ask each side about how to address the problem. Pew didn’t in this poll, but you don’t need a poll to understand that Democrats will address the problem differently than Republicans. But on the majority of questions Pew asked the mere perception of what constitutes a big problem shows the divide and it is not surprising.
 
 “The way racial and ethnic minorities are treated by the criminal justice system”
Republicans 10%     Democrats 71%
 
“Climate change”
Republicans 11%     Democrats 72%
 
“Gun violence”
Republicans 25%     Democrats 81%
 
“The gap between the rich and the poor”
Republicans 22%     Democrats 77%
 
“Racism”
Republicans 19%     Democrats 63%
 
How is this unusual? In all of the above isn’t that divide a defining one for even being a Democrat or a Republican? In the Museums eyes “World View Perceptions” are historically the main difference in most political divides. It is the nature of the beast. Societies will tend to unify only for the “big” political problems, war being the most usual. Other than that independent world views will rule the day. When has this not been true? Why is anyone surprised that we are not the society of World War Two? What we are is the society of the majority of times when there are no unifying events.
 
Exhibit Two: Coming Home
 
From Zack Beauchamp at VOX:
The study, from three political scientists from around the country, takes a statistical look at a large sample of Obama-Trump switchers. It finds that these voters tended to score highly on measures of racial hostility and xenophobia — and were not especially likely to be suffering economically.
 
“History suggests that significant changes in voting across party lines, particularly for the presidency, precede changes in party identities, the basis for realignments. This sequence of events played out during the Southern realignment (i.e., Democrats voting for GOP presidential candidates but maintaining their party attachment) and here we provide evidence that it may be happening again after two terms with a black president and during an era of mass demographic change due to immigration. Racial conservatives and those with the most punitive immigration views are moving right and were the most likely to switch to Trump in 2016. Our data suggest the same is happening in the opposite direction as those with racially liberal or pro-immigration views may be sorting into the Democratic Party.”
 
This prediction may or may turn out to be accurate. But it’s plausible, and there’s no use burying our heads in the sand by pretending this is about class when it isn’t.
 
And Ron Brownstein at CNN:
Here's what should excite and depress Democrats so far in 2018
The biggest political questions facing Democrats, needless to say, all remain to be decided on election night. But that doesn't mean the tempestuous 2018 campaign season hasn't already sent important signals -- both encouraging and ominous -- about the Democrats' future against a Republican Party that Trump is reshaping in his image.
 
The most encouraging trends for Democrats in 2018: 
1. The white-collar suburban discontent with Trump is real and widespread.
What's discouraging for Democrats in 2018:
1. Trump’s provocations alone show few signs of improving the subpar turnout patterns among Latinos and millennials, two core Democratic constituencies.
 
Exhibit Three: Talking it Out
 
But what if we just talk about our differences, instead of yelling about them. Won’t that help?
Well, there is another study;
 
Ezra Klein at VOX
The results of the month-long exposure to popular, authoritative voices from the other side of the aisle was an increase in issue-based polarization. “We find that Republicans who followed a liberal Twitter bot became substantially more conservative post treatment,” write the authors. “Democrats exhibited slight increases in liberal attitudes after following a conservative Twitter bot, although these effects are not statistically significant.”
 
The difference between the Democratic and Republican responses is interesting, and merits more study. But the key finding is that neither group responded to exposure to the other side by moderating their own views. In both cases, hearing contrary opinions drove partisans to more polarized positions — Republicans became more conservative rather than more liberal, and Democrats, if anything happened at all, became more liberal rather than more conservative.
 
I spoke to Christopher Bail, one of the study’s authors and the head of Duke University’s polarization lab. “For a long time, people have been assuming that exposing people to opposing views creates the opportunity for moderation,” he told me. “If I could humbly claim to figure out one thing, it’s that that’s not a simple process. If Twitter tweaks its algorithms to put one Republican for every nine Democrats in your Twitter feed, that won’t increase moderation.”
 
Exhibit Four: Dancing in the Dark
 
“Over the course of 21 months, President Trump has loudly and repeatedly refused to accept a number of seemingly agreed-upon facts, while insisting on the veracity of a variety of demonstrably false claims that happen to suit his political needs.”
New York Times’s Maggie Haberman
 
This is a snippet of an approximately 1200 word piece that it a masterful display that not once used the word Lie in any of its various grammatical forms. Main stream journalism gets derided a lot, but this is the objective journalism still taught in colleges across America. All Politicians lie, and those who say they don’t are lying. But since the success of Orwell’s 1984, published in 1949, most have taken great care not to become associated with its language, its doublethink and Newspeak. But now,  and the Museum thinks inadvertently as we have a President credited with not liking to read,  we have an Administration talking about Fake News, Alternate Facts, all the verbal trapping of Big Brother in our  “Post-truth politics”. With few exceptions the power of literature tends to fade with time, and along with our other “posts” we have now entered the Post-1984 effect era.
 
At the Exit:
     “The trouble with lies is that they love company. Once you tell a single lie, that lies gets terribly excited and calls all its friends to visit. Soon you find yourself making room for them in every corner, turning down beds, and lighting lamps to make them comfortable, feeding them and tidying them and mending them when they start to wear thin. This is most especially true if you tell a very large lie, […] A good, solid, beefy lie is too heavy to stand on its own. It needs smaller, quicker, more complicated lies to hold it up.”
Catherynne M. Valente


Unkwil

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Uncle Willie loves to have feedback from both readers who appreciate his point of view as well as from missguided souls who disagree.