Polarized Politics

Posted: August 3, 2014 in Economy, Latino Politics, Obama, Power, Race, Tea Party, U.S. Politics

American politics has become increasingly polarized… even toxic.  Truth may never be a very high goal in political debate, but it is too often proudly rejected as a goal today.  A lot of this has to do with what social psychologists say is ideological confirmation bias.  We tend not to pay much attention to facts that contradict our world view and values.  In fact, opposing facts usually make us hold onto our ideological beliefs even stronger. Which makes my feeble attempts to insert some rational discourse into conservative commentary on issues like the undocumented, “takers”, government spending, and President Obama that much more preposterous.  I can’t help myself.  I read those bizarre and incorrect statements and I respond.  Here are some examples of what I mean.  It comes from a Facebook site called Conservative Daily.  The commentary was in response to a post that claimed that people leaned to Republicans because the Democrats have so wreaked the economy.  It came with a chart, see below, that purports to show that Democratic led states do worse with unemployment than Republican led states.

screen-shot-2014-07-19-at-6.27.34-am

 

 

 

They also provided an “analysis” of what the chart means:

“A quick look at the 5 states on either side of the graph and a brief analysis of their statewide party support is revealing.

High Unemployment states:

  • Mississippi: Strongly Republican – Republican governor and Senators, 75% of their Congressmen are Republican and their state legislature is 55% Republican.
  • Rhode Island: Strongly not Republican – Independent governor, 100% Democratic Senators and Congressmen, and Republicans are only 10% of the state legislature.
  • Nevada: Mixed – Republican governor, Senators and Congressional representation is split down the middle, and the state legislature is 63% Democrat.
  • Michigan: Mixed – Republican governor, Democratic Senators, mixed in the House, and 58% Republican in the legislature.
  • California: Republicans need not apply – Democrat governor and Senators, 75% of those in Congress are Democrats, and Republicans are just under 30% of the state legislature.

Result: Only one “Strongly Republican” state is in the bottom five.

Low Unemployment states:

North Dakota: Strongly Republican – Republican governor, senators are split, Republican House member, and the state legislature is 75% Republican.
Utah: Even stronger Republican presence – Everything is Republican except one House member and 18% of the state legislature.
Vermont: Republicans need not apply – only 32% of the state body is Republican and that’s it.
Nebraska: Most Republican of all – 39% of the state legislature is Democrat and everything else is Republican.
South Dakota: Stongly Republican – one Democratic Senator and only 24% Democratic representation in the state legislature.
Result: Only one Democratic state in the top five.”

Obviously, there is much that is left out of such rudimentary analysis.  States like Michigan have suffered because manufacturing has fled while states like North Dakota have benefited from the discovery of gas and oil energy.  And all states have been able to reduce their unemployment to levels below 8% since the highs of 2008 under Bush.  That is, of course, something that can be attributed to the limited policies that President Obama has been able to institute.  What is more fascinating is the response of Conservative Daily’s members.  Here is a sample:

Gary Ei takers tend to be liberal, workers conservativ

  • Shelly Erickson Wake up America liberal ideas do not work!
    Greg Manger The problem has more to do with overpopulation and lack of industry than it does a states political affiliations. Before I get blasted for being a liberal I will state that I am a republican through and through. However, I feel like the kind of hyperbole that this post boasts is the problem the Republican Party has had over the past 2 decades. Instead always blaming liberals and going as far right as we can, I think we need to get back to some common sense politics and solutions and stop constantly fighting the other side of the isle. Let’s be the bigger people and lead again.
    John Vanis Love poverty? then vote democrat
    Richard Shockley Look at DETROIT!! 50 years of democrat rule!! only bright spot– u can buy a 3000 sq.ft home for 1000 bucks!!
  • Mike Davis Why do people consistently leave out Wyoming. Most conservative state in the US. Lowest tax rate. 7th highest average income in the nation. Highest in personal disposable income in the US.
    Deb Chambers Smith Oh! Maybe you might want to keep the secret and keep WY healthy
    Sylvia Olson Way to go North Dakota!!!
    Christopher Stevens actually population’s role has everything to do with it. they keep electing democrats, err progressives, err socialists.
  • Jenifer Leslie Much of North Dakota (western part at least) is paying over $15 an hour starting wages at places like Menards and fast food restaurants and they still can’t find people to work. People may dis this state, but at least we aren’t broke….and it isn’t just because of the oil industry.
    Alex Kuban More like a connection between lazy and stupid LOL
    Daryl Kirk Clinton didn’t create a good job climate Paul O. Thompson. After the 1st two years of his presidency, the people wanted his nonsense like NAFTA, pressuring banks to give loans to people who couldn’t afford them, and raising taxes stopped. We voted in a conservative Republican Congress headed by Newt Gingrich which put a balanced budget on his desk to sign for several years in a row. Due to that and their easing of regulations and taxes, the economy soared, jobs were created and Clinton took the credit.
    Brandon Vale It’s the same thing here in Canada; the most prosperous provinces are always Conservative. The Left wing provinces always high unemployment, high taxes, and growing debt. With the rise of Liberalism we see the decline of society. Not just North America, but abroad as well
    Brett Watson It’s a fact that states led by Republican or Conservative Governors have better economies and growth than those run by Democrat or Liberal Leaders. The truth hurts!
    Bob Moller I worked in NYC when Democrats ran the city down the drain. Then Republicans and Independents came in and crime rates dropped. Now a Liberatard Dumbocrat is Mayor and crime is up. I worked in Newark New Jersey (Dumbocrats) it was so bad we needed Armed Security Guards to accompany us so we wouldn’t get killed. So tell me how wonderful cities and states are under Dumbocrats
    Mike Stott I have been in Mississippi foe 30 years and not unemployed one time . I would rather be controlled by Republicans than rounded up like an animals to prison camps by our Democratic leaning commie president !
    Ginger Stevens Pelletier Liberals have no morals. They are all liars.
    PamChris Holmes Well Greg, good to hear you are republican. But the states political affiliations are the cause. Liberals-progressive policies along with the lefts over regulation is what kills industry. Unions are funding the lefts policies. The lefts policies are to blame for the 98 week unemployment. Their policies are letting cities die from within. Detroit is a perfect example. Haydays in the 50 and 60’s where industry thrived are dead because of over spending, big government. The American industrial complex is being gutted by The EPA. Energy sources are being made illegal because of the left. Expensive energy, means expensive industry, which means middle class suffering, which means the country suffering, which means the country slows down and stops. All perpetuated by leftist liberal progressive policies. Obama said in2008, “your energy costs are necessarily going to go up”. Combine that with the costs to business of Obama care, it doesn’t pay to own a business. 29 hour work weeks, other reduced benefit packages, no wonder why liberal states are suffering. Greece, Italy, Spain, Russia, and a few others are collapsing from socialist policies. If America keeps going down the socialist, progressive policies, we are doomed as a country!
    Gennan Cameron Carabajal What do they know? The Libtard credo….Keep the People stupid so that they will vote for handouts!!! Tax those who ARE working to death to pay for those handouts. Know nothing about economics and the concept that jobs= revenue!!!
    Stewart Abernathy Hmm? What do you mean states without income tax cant support themselves over the long run? Texas has been running budget surpluses for several years.
    Chris O’Dell and I will say I live in MS and the vast majority of unemployed are democratic/liberal minded people. so even though MS has mostly republican representation this still show the democratic mindset doesn’t work. bad work ethic bad additude, no education no ambition etc….equals poverty level life.
    Jon Nagle Pesky statistics, but the government under the liberal wing just thinks these facts are anomalies. Square pegs in round holes if you just campaign enough and hold enough fund raisers and promise the unemployed free stuff from other people’s pockets. Oh yeh and get some more illegals to shore up your base.
    Dee Richard Liberal socialism does not work!
    Christopher Shaffer Politics and all of those involved, regardless of their political party, are stupid. It’s really that simple. It’s not just one political party which is destroying this once-great nation, it’s all of them.
    Michael Raiborn Devising new taxes & increasing old ones doesn’t create jobs or help anyone but the Feds!!!!! It bankrupts cities!
    Michael Clark All I know is to create jobs, states must make it attractive to the company’s bottom line. Low capital gains taxes and lower regulation. That’s why many companies are moving to Florida and Texas. These companies create jobs and those workers pay taxes and spend their paychecks at other companies…. And so forth.”

 

 As you can see, the commentary is sprinkled with a few rational responses about over-population, loss of industry, and taxation.  But it is dominated by people who simply make ad hominem arguments about “libartards,” Obama, and “socialism.”  Our politics has become so polarized that even Reagan might seem like a liberal today.  When presidential candidate Romney told his big lie in 2012 that 47% of Americans are “Takers” because they paid no federal taxes, he took a position that Ronald Reagan would have rejected.
Romney was talking about people who are too young or old to make enough money to be taxed as well as many more who work but pay little taxes because they have big enough families to claim dependent and other deductions. It is insulting and not true to label them “takers,” as even Ronald Reagan understood.  Reagan was a strong supporter of the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC).  This tax policy sends checks to Americans who work but earn less than around $46,000 a year, depending on family size. This means that these workers who receive the credit are going to be among those who don’t pay income tax.  Reagan did not see this as a problem. That 1986 tax code reform of the tax code removed 6 million working poor from the tax rolls. Reagan viewed this reform as a “sweeping victory for fairness” and “perhaps the biggest antipoverty program in our history.” But today, this kind of policy and this kind of centrist politics is no longer possible.
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