Is America Really That Polarized?

Yes, and no, as The Washington Post’s Dan Balz points out

Forget what you’ve heard about an America divided into warring camps, living in red and blue states or congressional districts. We actually agree on lots of things.

That, at least, is the conclusion of a study conducted by the Program for Public Consultation (PPC), whose goal is to give the public a louder voice in the policymaking process. (The study is also available on the Web site of Voice of the People.)

The group analyzed answers to more than 300 survey questions taken over the past few years and dealing with public-policy choices, and it compared responses from people who live in red congressional districts or states with those who live in blue districts or states.

The analysis found overwhelming convergence in attitudes, regardless of the makeup of the state or district where people live. People in red districts or states and those in blue districts or states truly disagreed with each other just 4 percent of the time.

Of course, one of the problems with the results could be who is asked within the red/blue states. The Party/ideological position breakdown is not provided. The results could also go to the questions asked. Regardless, the conclusion to the gridlock in Congress is

(Stephen) Kull (director of PPC) doesn’t dispute the fact that Congress is polarized along partisan lines. But he said it’s wrong to blame that on a polarized population. Members of Congress, he said, are responding not to their constituents but to the power (and money) of special interests that have their own, partisan agendas.

A couple points. First, gridlock is what the Constitution intended. It was set up to be a slow, ponderous process for passing laws at a national level. The States were supposed to be the primary government entities. Second, if the study is to be believed, we may agree on ends, but we do not necessarily agree on means. Take investing in renewable energy. There is a red/blue split of 59.1/63.5 believing that it is important. But, how do we get there? I’m all for it. What I am not for is pissing away taxpayer money in order to repay campaign contributors, along with dumping money into companies that will go nowhere. I’ve also mentioned I think research and development for individual buildings, rather than the these giants solar/wind farms would be better. Warmists claim they love renewables, yet, when construction occurs, they want it stopped. They say they love hydro-thermal. Yet, they want existing dams torn down.

There is a point, though, about special interests and money, and power, in Government. Not just Congress, but the presidency, as well.  A strong, centralized government doesn’t always listen to We The People. They may pretend to, but over time they focus more on the big monied interests. Hence the reason for term limits and repealing the 17th Amendment. Shift power from the federal government and back to the States, where it belongs.

But wait. There is another view, offered by Alan Abramowitz, a political science professor at Emory University who has written extensively on the topic of polarization.

Abramowitz prefers to look at the issue through the differences between Republicans and Democrats in red states, blue states and purple states, not just by comparing the districts. He also argues that the differences on a number of basic issues that are at the heart of the national political debate underscore the degree to which the country is divided.

At the end of the day, why is this a Bad Thing? People have different opinions. Americans on the right want to debate and help those on the left understand why they are wrong. Those on the Left want to shut down debate, tell those on the right to shut up, and even pass laws restricting certain thoughts. They would prefer a more homogenized version of political thought, where everyone believes the same thing. In some cases, are forced to believe the same thing.

There is a fundamental difference between those who believe in low taxation, a weak central government, adhering to the Constitution, and freedom/liberty, as opposed to those who believe in mooching, a domineering central government, high taxes (for Other People), thought crimes, and living by the fruits of other people’s labor.

Crossed at Right Wing News.

Save $10 on purchases of $49.99 & up on our Fruit Bouquets at 1800flowers.com. Promo Code: FRUIT49
If you liked my post, feel free to subscribe to my rss feeds.

Both comments and trackbacks are currently closed

10 Responses to “Is America Really That Polarized?”

  1. Jeffery says:

    Polarized much?

    “Americans on the right want to debate and help those on the left understand why they are wrong. Those on the Left want to shut down debate, tell those on the right to shut up, and even pass laws restricting certain thoughts…

    There is a fundamental difference between those who believe in low taxation, a weak central government, adhering to the Constitution, and freedom/liberty, as opposed to those who believe in mooching, a domineering central government, high taxes (for Other People), thought crimes, and living by the fruits of other people’s labor.”

    Of course, The Teach is being ironic here, caricaturing the two extremes from an exaggerated far, far-right perspective. No real person could be so misguided that they consider what The Teach typed to be true.

    In reality, all of our various ideas and opinions get distilled into policy that tries to accommodate as many people as possible, within the confines of our Constitution, as interpreted by our Supreme Court. Obviously, We the People, can sometimes be dumb, and sometimes widely so. But over time, We the People tend to be pretty smart.

    Conservatives believe that people and systems left alone reach an equilibrium that best serves all people. There is no evidence that this is true. There are no examples in history to support this belief. Always, those with resources and power manipulate the system to further their own cause, consolidating their power and wealth at the expense of others. Always. We see this today where the incomes of the working classes have been stagnant for decades while the wealthy and powerful are becoming much wealthier (and can afford more obedient politicians). This results not from some natural free-market process but from policies designed to enrich the wealthy at the expense of the working classes. Our policies in regards to taxation, immigration, trade, Federal Reserve, patents and trademarks, labor unions, dollar value… in fact, most policy favors the wealthy over the working classes.

    Currently, there is not enough consumer demand in our economy to employ all the people who wish to be employed. Conservatives believe, again without evidence, that there are regulations extant and confiscatory taxes on the wealthy, that are keeping the wealthy from creating factories and employing people. Conservatives also believe, without evidence, that 47% of Americans are lazy moochers and that unemployment is a personal flaw, not a systemic one. There is no reason to think that any conservative economic policy recommendation will do anything but further hurt the economy.

  2. Better_Be_Gumballs says:

    Currently, there is not enough consumer demand in our economy to employ all the people who wish to be employed. …. There is no reason to think that any conservative economic policy recommendation will do anything but further hurt the economy.

    Those two are mutually exclusive.

    You agree that there is a lack of consumer demand in this nation. Why do you think that is? Is it because they are not given enough free money? When does that stop?

    If you give a guy an apple, with the intent of him passing it on to someone else, with the intent of him passing it on till finally someone is able to eat it… what happens when you stop giving out free apples? WHat happens when you don’t have any more free apples to give?

    Why not allow that first man to grow his own apples and then he’ll be able to provide all the apples he needs?

    You believe that your liberalism is based on caring and compassion for the poor (at least that is the major suggestion from liberals, however for you it is about punishing the businesses, hurting the poor and minorities). Yet, which is better? Teaching a man how to be independent, self-reliant, productive member of a self-runnig society, or a leech?

  3. Jeffery says:

    “Is it because they are not given enough free money?”

    I’m on your side. Let’s re-frame your belligerent comment into something more useful.

    “Why are American workers’ wages not keeping up with the economy?”

    Recall that most Americans have jobs. Also note that we (Republicans and Democrats) have enacted policies over the years to keep wages depressed but profits high. Our politicians have corrupted the free-market aspects of capitalism to benefit the wealthy at the expense of the our vast middle class. Our tax policies benefit the wealthy. We are systematically dismantling our labor unions. By shipping jobs and factories overseas we promote lower paid foreign competition against our workers but not for our doctors, lawyers, investors and CEOs. By keeping the dollar high we discourage export and encourage imports. The Fed favors super low inflation (benefitting investors) over economic activity and full employment. Our fiscal policy (Congress) discourages full employment during recessions, especially during times of economic stagnation, as now. (NB – Most “business-cycle” recessions are engineered by the Fed to cool an overheated economy, but the Great Recession was caused by the collapse of the housing market, not the Fed). Policy (Congress) made the Wall Street banks and their executives whole but ignored the homeowners who lost their homes. If the government loaned you $1 million at 0% interest and said you had to pay it back in 3 years, you would consider that a good deal, right? You could make $30,000, $40,000 or $50,000 a year with an average investment stategy – all for free! That’s what we did with Wall Street. And what if you lost the money instead? No big deal.

    This is not about “those” people receiving “free” money, it’s about our Democratic and Republican politicians favoring the wealthy over the masses. We are on the verge of a chronic recession-like, underperforming economy. If you are serious about cutting government support of the impoverished, the unemployed and especially the underemployed, we need to find a way to start rebalancing our economy.

  4. Jeffery says:

    Gumballs,

    Did you read the Politico piece by Mr. Hanauer that I recommended?

    It has nothing to do with “compassion” or “caring” or “social justice”.

    His point is not to “give” anything to anyone but to make the economy more conducive to everyone having the opportunity to support themselves.

    This is a selfish and very practical approach.

  5. Better_Be_Gumballs says:

    1st, you can never be on my side. My side is pro-America, pro-capitalism, pro-freedom, pro-choice, pro-voice, pro-science, pro-christianity.

    2nd, your comment,

    Recall that most Americans have jobs.

    it utterly false. nearly 100 million working age people are without work. More people than ever are getting disability payments. More people than ever are getting some form of welfare.

    If you can’t get facts straight, your attempts to have a discussion are futile.

  6. Jeffery says:

    I’m pro-America, pro-capitalism, pro-freedom, pro-choice and pro-science, too. I don’t know what pro-voice means, and I’m politically neutral on religion.

    You may be right about the unemployed (although you didn’t supply any evidence). If so, I stand corrected once you show the solid evidence. In fact, if you include kids and the elderly my statement was clearly false. There are more than 300 million Americans but only some 139 million employed! Can we agree that we not include kids under 16 and seniors?

    According the BLS http://data.bls.gov/cgi-bin/surveymost

    June civilian labor force = 155,694,000
    June employment = 138,780,000 (prelim data)

    But note, the civilian labor force stat only includes Americans 16-64 looking for work.

    Your 100 million figure appears exaggerated by including 9 million high schoolers, 21 million college kids and 40 million 65 yr + Americans. 100-70 = 30 million. http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/statements/2013/jul/30/blog-posting/are-90-million-americans-not-working-or-looking-wo/

    Of those 30 million, 17 million are unemployed but looking for work (see BLS stats above) leaving only 13 million “moochers” by your own inflated numbers.

    According to Politifact: “Bloggers and pundits have said that 90 million (you upped that to 100 million) Americans either aren’t working or aren’t looking for work. That’s a real number, but it includes high schoolers, college students and retirement-age Americans, leaving perhaps 20 million a better approximation. We rate the claim Mostly False.” I’ll give you your exaggerated number of 30 million.

    So it is undeniably true that most Americans of employment age (16-64) are employed, since 139,000,000 is significantly greater than 1/2 of 139,000,000 + 30,000,000 (unemployed + those not looking).

    You should read the Politifact piece, it links to Census and BLS data that you should find educational.

  7. Better_Be_Gumballs says:

    I don’t know what pro-voice means

    I know you don’t. Neither do any of your leftist buddies.

  8. david7134 says:

    Jeff,
    You are not pro anything except trying to advance a communistic agenda that has been proven over and over not to work.

    You have no idea what poor people are, you have never lived among them and had to care for them. If you had you would know that many are terribly lazy and not driven in the least. Other chronically make very poor choices and then others are plain nuts.

    Taxing corporations and the rich is one of the best ways of continuing with the economic depression we have. Your communist bunch will never be able to see that. Then I would love to know how you make $1 million produce $50,000 in this environment without the substantial likelihood of losing your investment. If you don’t understand that the government is propping up the stock market (and giving a considerable amount of money to the people you hate), then you have no knowledge of finance.

    The fact is that 50% of the country hates the other 50% and they are diametrically opposed in thought. When the economy and the dollar eventually tank, then things will happen as in 1860.

  9. Jeffery says:

    gumballs,

    Did you find your evidence about 100 million American working age Americans being unemployed?

    You can see above that the information I found proves your claim to be false. Where did you get your info – Rush? Glenn? FOX? Teach?

  10. Monday morning links

    The Science Is In — Why Gluten Sensitivity Is Probably Fake Quantum state may be a real thing – Physicists summon up their courage and go after the nature of reality. Japanese Knotweed: The Invasive Plant That Eats the Value of Your Home 11 Skills

Bad Behavior has blocked 8183 access attempts in the last 7 days.