The Czar was puttering through our awesome Twitter feed (which you should join and follow anon, if thou hast not done so hence), and spotted this eye-catching question from, of all groups, the New York Times: “How Did Politics Get So Personal?”
Well, this is either brilliant satire or…no, it’s just the stultifying effects of living in an echo chamber, it seems. Within, author Thomas B. Edsall reflects on a study that shows how much parents would despise the notion of their kids marrying someone of a different political party. He has a nice graphic showing how the percentages have increase from 4% to 33% (among Democrats) and from 5% to 49% (among Republicans) over the last 50 years. Interestingly, there may be a clue as to why in the graphic, showing a donkey facing to the left and an elephant facing to the right.
The graph also shows that the biggest upswing happened (surprised?) since 2008.
Anything interesting happen in 2008?
Yes, that’s right: America elected its most polarizing president ever. Sure, the Left will say it’s all about race, but the poll doesn’t reflect anything in that direction: it merely shows that since the Progressive takeover of the presidency, people are being forced to choose. The Left declared a culture war, and if you’re not going to pick a side, one will be chosen for you.
But this a political piece in the New York Times, so of course the author is going to reassure its uptown liberal readers that there’s nothing wrong whatsoever with being an uptown liberal reader. In a bizarre non sequitur, Mr. Edsall jumps from a discussion of how married couples now tend to belong to the same political parties to a study that liberals think more analytically than conservatives. What a shocker: it’s okay, libs, because you’re still smarter than Republicans.
Because this is science, and after all, liberalswho feel and sense and just opineare way more analytical than their conservative cousins who reason and rely on spreadsheets, bank statements, tax forms, and numbers. Got it.
This is, of course, another variation of the long-debunked liberals are pragmatists, conservatives are ideologues meme. It gets better, with Mr. Edsall copiously quoting this study’s authors, reflecting that liberalswho predominantly live in populated citiesare more individualistic and independentwhereas conservativeswho frequent suburbia and rural Americaare more community minded. On what is this based? Who knowsMr. Edsall has his pull quotes and he’s not inclined to second-guess the sources of a study that agrees with his views.
The Czar thinks the entire studyeven the parts of it that say nice things about conservativesis questionable on its face. The study isn’t available for free, so the Czar is not about to pursue it in order to review its full claims. Whether accurate or not, Mr. Edsall has picked the quotes he wants to prevail, so the Czarwho is reviewing Mr. Edsall’s piece and not a peer-reviewed paperis reflecting purely on the quotes submitted and whether they explain increased polarization in national politics.
And they do not. Rather, one suspects, Mr. Edsall delighted to find a social psychology study that appeared, in its introduction, to claim that liberals are analytic thinkers and conservatives are more emotion-driven. Of course, there is a fair amount of research disputing this, so Mr. Edsall is certainly not going to get a full editorial essay out of one paper without having to do that additional research. That would be dispassionately rational. Instead he found, one further suspects, a valuable study that shows Americans are being forced into polarizing camps, and simply banged the two together as if they flowed logically.
And they do not. But let us propose a different second half to Mr. Edsall’s reporting of the polarization study.
Perhaps it is reasonable to wonder if the monstrously sized public relations campaign put out by the Obama campaign helped increase support among liberals for the Democratic party. Remember, if you were young and voted for Obama, you were one of the savvy, cool, techno-generation. If you were older and voted for Obama, you were proving to America that you, personally, were not a racist. If you opposed Obama on any of his many glaring faults, you were a racist, something ugly, and a dinosaur with no teeth. Taking a page from September 12, 2001, you were either with us or an enemy. Fox News was shut out as often as possible; investigative journalists had their emails stolen and scanned; Democratic registered voters were reminded that their addresses were on file and that they should continue to vote, otherwise we would know.
Isn’t that an awful lot to swallow? But swallow they did, and suddenly thousands (if not millions) of non-voters or non-affiliated voters were declaring themselves Democrats. And boy howdy, were they rewarded: praise-filled emails, reminders on popular television shows that Democrats were great and Republicans were stupid, and reassurance from the president that you weren’t some bitter clinger. An attorney general threatened he was out for his own people’s interests, and communities were organized, and the president even had his own logo now! And naturally a website where you could submit the names and statements of friends or relatives who were saying bad or hurtful things about him.
But it takes two poles. On the conservative side, people got angry. The Tea Party arose almost immediately after serious discussions about Obamacare, and radio shows began to take on the sound of Radio Free America. And conservatives, whom polls revealed greatly out-numbered liberals, discovered they weren’t alone. There were more than hundreds of you. More than thousands. In fact, there were millions and millions of you, andright around 2009conservative America discovered it could actually fight back.
Conservatives discovered, in short order, they didn’t have to take this anymore. The liberal cousin who mouths off during dinner about dumbass Republicans was shocked to hear other family members telling her to shut up. The town hall Democrat praising himself on stage was driven off with boos and demands to explain his hypocrisy. A congressman, inappropriately, found himself calling the President of the United States a liar, right in the middle of a lie he was telling. Each act emboldens the other.
The polarization started a long time ago on the Left. But as each of these defiant acts on the Right strengthened the rest, the Right caught up quickly. The Right has learned that the Left lost its monopoly on public righteousness. The Emperor has no clothes, and it’s a good thing to point that out to your friends and neighbors. All this increases polarization.
So the Czar repeats himself: you might not care about politics, or Obama, or socialism, or Tea Parties. But you are being assigned a side anyway; you will either be drafted by the Left or you will volunteer for the Right. And history knowsthrough simple analysis even a liberal uptown New York Times reader can dowhich side fights harder.
Божію Поспѣшествующею Милостію Мы, Дима Грозный Императоръ и Самодержецъ Всероссiйскiй, цѣсарь Московскiй. The Czar was born in the steppes of Russia in 1267, and was cheated out of total control of all Russia upon the death of Boris Mikhailovich, who replaced Alexander Yaroslav Nevsky in 1263. However, in 1283, our Czar was passed over due to a clerical error and the rule of all Russia went to his second cousin Daniil (Даниил Александрович), whom Czar still resents. As a half-hearted apology, the Czar was awarded control over Muscovy, inconveniently located 5,000 miles away just outside Chicago. He now spends his time seething about this and writing about other stuff that bothers him.