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Politics Stinks

Cato’s Gene Healy is pretty much sick of politics, which is a problem since he writes about politics for a living:

I have a confession to make: Even though it’s my job to write about politics, I didn’t watch a single second of the Republican or Democratic conventions — not even a YouTube clip of Clint Eastwood talking to the chair.

I’ve long found electoral politics seedy and dispiriting, but that sensibility has lately become a debilitating affliction: like being a sportswriter struck by the unhelpful epiphany that it’s silly for a grown man to write about other grown men playing a game for kids.

These days, when I tune in to ABC’s “This Week” looking for a column topic, I can’t even make it past the first commercial break. Like Peter says to the management consultant in “Office Space,” “The thing is, Bob, it’s not that I’m lazy; it’s that I just don’t care.”

(…)

Many conservatives are convinced that Barack Obama, who holds the policy positions of your median Prius driver, is bent on destroying the American way of life. Many liberals have convinced themselves that Mitt Romney, the very model of all-American Mormon niceness, is a vicious plutocratic thug who loved to beat up gay kids in high school.

Psychologist Jonathan Haidt, author of “The Righteous Mind: Why Good People are Divided by Politics and Religion,” wrote a blog post recently called “Discovering That the Other Side Is Not Really So Loathsome,” riffing off an essay by Michael Rubens, a former “Daily Show” producer. It was Rubens’ job to interview Rush Limbaugh fans and gun-toting Tea Partiers so Jon Stewart’s audience could point and laugh. “[I]magine how irksome it was,” Rubens writes, to discover that these folks “generally weren’t loathsome persons after all. In fact, to my great consternation and disappointment, I often liked them.”

I had to laugh when I saw the very first comment on Haidt’s post. “I do not buy this,” wrote “Bert Gold, Ph.D.”: “[N]o credit for civility to Republicans. … [T]hey humiliated a sitting President and plotted to do so from the night of his inauguration. Despicable is not a strong enough word.”

Healy’s opinions aren’t very far from my own. There was a time when following politics was if not fun at least interesting and seemed to be infused with a sense that there was something important going on. Now, it just seems as though we’re either arguing over the same dumb things when the reality is that the two sides of the political debate in this country don’t really disagree with each other as much as they like to pretend. If we’re not doing that, we’re wasting time arguing over stupid things like something silly Mitt Romney said in a stump speech or the fact that Barack Obama ate dog when he was six years old and living in Indonesia. Our “journalists” spend more time talking about whose leading in the latest poll and process issues than they do about the things that voters say repeatedly are their top concerns. And, in both political parties, special interests needle their way into the debate and push their own agendas which have little to do with either the concerns of the voters or the best interests of the nation.

More importantly, the fact that our country has become more polarized between left and right means that politics has found its way into more areas of our life. Now, there are political consequences to what television shows and movies you watch, which actors and musicians you are a fan of, and even whether or not you like chicken sandwiches. People who are strongly political on one side of the aisle or the other tend to think the absolutely worst about those that disagree with them even though, if they actually met one of those people, they’d likely find them to be perfectly decent human beings who just happen to have different political opinions. Most importantly, we are now in a world where it’s not enough to merely oppose a politician of the opposite party, one must demonize them and turn them into the worst example of a human being that you can think of. Remember how much flack Mitt Romney took from Republicans during the primary when he said that he thought that President Obama was a decent man who just happened to be in over his head?

As I’ve written here at OTB several times in the past, the reasons for all of this seem rather clear. Cable “news” networks, talk radio, and the Internet have created a never-ending newscycle that at the same time encourages hyperpartisanship. People are more likely today to get their news from sources that are in line with their ideological biases than they were in the past, thus creating a self-perpetuating Confirmation Bias that just tends to make people more convinced that their views are correct and the other guys are not just wrong, but evil and/or stupid. Add to these the fact that, through things like Gerrymandering and the relative loss of power of party organizations, the political system itself is changing and there is plenty of ripe territory for hyperpartisanship. Thanks to this, and most especially in the Republican Party, dissent from what the base deems to be orthodoxy leads politicians and pundits to be denounced and ostracized, both powerful tools that keep people who make their living in politics “in line” with the party.

Aaron Ross Powell and Trevor Burrus explored the issue recently in a post entitled “Politics Makes Us Worse”:

Politics takes a continuum of possibilities and turns it into a small group of discrete outcomes, often just two. Either this guy gets elected, or that guy does. Either a give policy becomes law or it doesn’t. As a result, political choices matter greatly to those most affected. An electoral loss is the loss of a possibility. These black and white choices mean politics will often manufacture problems that previously didn’t exist, such as the “problem” of whether we—as a community, as a nation—will teach children creation or evolution.

Oddly, many believe that political decisionmaking is an egalitarian way of allowing all voices to be heard. Nearly everyone can vote, after all, and because no one has more than one vote, the outcome seems fair.

But outcomes in politics are hardly ever fair. Once decisions are given over to the political process, the only citizens who can affect the outcome are those with sufficient political power. The most disenfranchised minorities become those whose opinions are too rare to register on the political radar. In an election with thousands of voters, a politician is wise to ignore the grievances of 100 people whose rights are trampled given how unlikely those 100 are to determine the outcome.

The black-and-white aspect of politics also encourages people to think in black-and-white terms. Not only do political parties emerge, but their supporters become akin to sports fans, feuding families, or students at rival high schools. Nuances of differences in opinions are traded for stark dichotomies that are largely fabrications. Thus, we get the “no regulation, hate the environment, hate poor people” party and the “socialist, nanny-state, hate the rich” party—and the discussions rarely go deeper than this.

Politics like this is no better than arguments between rival sports fans, and often worse because politics is more morally charged. Most Americans find themselves committed to either the red team (Republicans) or the blue (Democrats) and those on the other team are not merely rivals, but represent much that is evil in the world. Politics often forces its participants into pointless internecine conflict, as they struggle with the other guy not over legitimate differences in policy opinion but in an apocalyptic battle between virtue and vice.

Of course, politics has been this way from time immemorial and, indeed, there have been times in our history when the political culture has been as bad as it is today, if not worse. Additionally, it’s generally been the case that politics has become more vitriolic and partisan in times when the stakes are high or people are unsure about the future. It happened in 1800 and 1828 when the future course of the nation was a stake, in the late 1850s when the very survival of a United States of America was in doubt, it happened in the late 1800s when we were making the transition from an agrarian to an industrial nation, and it happened to some degree in the midst of the Great Depression. So, perhaps, what we’re going through now is only temporary and that things will return to something resembling normal after we’ve finally resolved these political debates we keep having and done something to set the nation right.

I can’t say I’m optimistic about things changing anytime soon, though. For one thing, there are too many vested interests out there now who profit both monetarily and otherwise from a divided, hyperpartisan electorate. There are the cable “news” people at Fox and MSNBC who make millions of dollars pitching a message that plays into, and reinforces, this world view. There are the the talk radio hosts who do the same thing. There are the pundits like Ann Coulter who have made their living by saying things that are ridiculously partisan, outrageous, and offensive. There are, of course, the politicians who gain political power by appealing to the very hyperpartisanship that these forces have helped created. And, then, there are the special interests — the bankers, the corportists who profit off of government favors, the defense lobby, the public sector unions — who profit from the hyperpartisanship because it distracts the public attention away from the issues that really matter. Call it the Political-Media-Corporate Complex, if you will, but whatever you call it, it represents the group of interests that are really profiting while we all fight about stupid things that don’t really matter.

So yes, politics stinks and it’s likely to keep stinking for the foreseeable future. I’d like to say that we can afford to ignore it, but we really can’t because if we don’t do something to change the status quo, we’re all going pay the price.

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About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May, 2010 and also writes at Below The Beltway. Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. EddieInCA says:

    Compared to the NFL, our political system is glorious.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 2

  2. mantis says:

    @EddieInCA:

    I don’t know. The refs in that game suck too.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  3. @EddieInCA:

    At least the NFL has cheerleaders

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0

  4. grumpy realist says:

    Good article, Doug. To quote from another area:” the fights are so vicious because the issues are so small.”

    I think it’s partly because we don’t really believe that there’s a Big Baddie out there any more, no matter how we try to drum up the excitement by screeching about Teh Muslims or Teh Chinese. After the USSR slithered down to relative irrelevance, there was no one left to hold the US together against an outside enemy. So now it’s Team Blue against Team Red with all the incipient hysteria of rabid sports fans. In fact, sports rivalries make more sense.

    We’ve also got an increasing percentage of the US population that really doesn’t want to have to deal with the complexity of modern life and the fact that we’re in a global economy. Hence the rush for a nostalgic la-la land that never existed and never will exist. It’s so much easier than dealing with reality.

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  5. Grumpy,

    I suppose that’s the part of all this that is so insane. At least when Americans were having these fights in 1800 or 1860 there were serious issues on the line. Today, we have people going to political war over a relatively small increase in marginal tax rates.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  6. Ron Beasley says:

    The politics in the European countries is even worse. The saving grace is they don’t last nearly as long – maybe that’s the problem.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  7. Tsar Nicholas says:

    Meh. This is nothing. Give it another 20 years, as the current farce of a generation comes of age and begins to vote in large numbers, and as the Boomers (the largest generation in history) begin to turn crusty, cranky and ultimately senile and demented. It’ll get far worse.

    Then you also have to factor in economics and finance. Right now the only inflation out there is in food and fuel. Two major problems, of course, but overall inflation relatively speaking is not so horrible. Well, juxtapose our current state of political angst and cognitive dissonance with substantial inflation, a la the 1970′s or even worse. What do you suppose the inner cities will be like, e.g., when people have to pay noticeably more today for basic necessities than they paid the prior week? Hint: it truly will get u.g.l.y. You also have to think about interest rates. Right now Joe White Trash Low Information Voter can walk into a Chevy dealership and buy a car for zero down and 0% interest. Soon, however, perhaps sooner than Bernanke gets committed, it’ll be more like 10% interest. Again, if you think politics is bad today just wait until Zombieland is quite a bit angrier and more dissillusioned.

    Then there are the two biggest time bombs of all: Social Security and Medicare. Wait until Sally College Airhead grows up and finds out that she’s going to have to pay higher taxes so that her nutty Grandma in the attic can continue quaffing checks each month from the Treasury and satisfying her hypochondria on the public dime. All of a sudden it won’t be about unicorns and rainbows for Sally. Money talks. Bullshit walks.

    All part and parcel of the big slide.

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  8. Tillman says:

    More importantly, the fact that our country has become more polarized between left and right means that politics has found its way into more areas of our life. Now, there are political consequences to what television shows and movies you watch, which actors and musicians you are a fan of, and even whether or not you like chicken sandwiches.

    This has always been the case, it’s just now more pronounced. Also only affects roughly forty million people who pay attention.

    And it seems confined to national politics from my vantage. State politics only get weird when the nation starts paying attention to a particular state (cf. Wisconsin union issues, North Carolina gay marriage amendment).

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  9. michael reynolds says:

    Excellent post.

    I think there are two big reasons for the loss of virtue in American politics: race and abortion.

    The poison spread from Richard Nixon’s Southern Strategy. Had Nixon done the decent thing and instead of exploiting racial division brought his party fully on-board, I think there would be a lot less nastiness in the system now. Unfortunately Nixon was Nixon and we’ve had four decades of politics divided in large part along racial lines. As much damage as Nixon did with Watergate, it’s for the Southern Strategy that he should burn in hell.

    Abortion is more complicated. It ties into religion, into the movement of women from second-class to full citizenship, into rural vs. urban, it’s just entwined with so much, in so many directions. But once the issue was defined by the extremists on the right as “murder,” there was no chance of peace. That one issue became deadly to civil discourse.

    Race and abortion hijacked conservatism and turned it from a political philosophy that valued restraint, calm consideration and pragmatism, into a social movement that created its own alternate reality. That’s where the schism takes place. Real conservatives and real liberals have plenty in common, they can work together, they can have a drink together after work. But if the division is between “God-fearing Christians and Baby-killers,” or is reduced to tribal identity politics along racial lines, all that becomes impossible.

    Today the real division is still about race and abortion, and now, gay rights. This isn’t at its core a problem between people who believe we should have a generous social safety net and those who think we should put more of the burden on individuals. And this is not a ‘both sides do it’ situation, unless you believe that liberals were wrong to champion Civil Rights and women’s rights, or that so-called conservatives were right to oppose them.

    There’s a simple solution, it’s one we preach blithely to people all over the world: purge the extremists from your ranks. Marginalize them. Don’t give them power. We tell people to do that when their lives are at risk, but our own Republican party won’t do it when all they risk is an election cycle or two.

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  10. Tillman says:

    Finally, it’s partly because the two parties are actually coalitions of smaller, European-style parties. Anything that can get those coalitions and their voters to act will unite them and keep their differences from spilling out. This means greater extremes in rhetoric, if nothing else, are tolerated.

    The Republicans are spilling out now because the interests of the components of their coalition are diverging.

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  11. C. Clavin says:

    Um…Romney is a plutocrat…and he did beat up a gay kid in high school.
    Convince me that Obama is;

    “…bent on destroying the American way of life…”

    and your “both sides” drivel might carry some weight.

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  12. Barfour says:

    Politics will always stink as long as Americans continue to believe the stinking bullshit that politicians want them to believe. There are no Republican or conservative solutions to America’s problems, there are also no Democratic or liberal solutions. There are only REAL solutions, PRAGMATIC solutions. If Americans do not wake up and realise this and if they do not start making loud and clear demands for politicians, who are supposed to be leaders, to start coming up with REAL and PRAGMATIC solutions, the future is not going to be good at all.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  13. Rafer Janders says:

    Many liberals have convinced themselves that Mitt Romney, the very model of all-American Mormon niceness, is a vicious plutocratic thug who loved to beat up gay kids in high school.

    Umm, he actually did beat up a gay kid in high school. This isn’t something we’ve “convinced” ourselves of — this is something that really happened, and that a lot of people witnessed.

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  14. Me Me Me says:

    I can certainly understand why if you are a member of the subset of the Republican Party that likes to call itself “libertarian” you would find this election cycle dispiriting. Because you look around and see that the people you make common cause with are palpably insane.

    But to then go on and find a “both sides do it” angle to your complaint is…well, given that this is OTB, utterly unsurprising!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 0

  15. swbarnes2 says:

    @michael reynolds:

    Race and abortion hijacked conservatism

    Erm, no. Ideas didn’t hijack anything. Certain conservatives choose to excite their base with those issues. And why would a bunch of old white men yelling “stop” at social change have the desire or moral backbone to object?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  16. michael reynolds says:

    @swbarnes2:

    I don’t think it’s just guys exploiting the base anymore, I think the inmates took over the asylum some time back.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 0

  17. Tillman says:

    @michael reynolds:

    The poison spread from Richard Nixon’s Southern Strategy. Had Nixon done the decent thing and instead of exploiting racial division brought his party fully on-board, I think there would be a lot less nastiness in the system now. Unfortunately Nixon was Nixon and we’ve had four decades of politics divided in large part along racial lines.

    I think we can forgive Nixon for not having much foresight. How was he supposed to know white people would stop breeding copiously once they hit a certain standard of living? He was paranoid, he constantly thought everyone else had more sex. This distorted his thinking.

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  18. michael reynolds says:

    I don’t forgive people when they knowingly do the wrong thing for political gain. Not unless they go the route of confession and making amends. I’m very forgiving of screw-ups, very forgiving of bad people who sincerely seek redemption. Nixon lived plenty long enough to acknowledge his crimes.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

  19. C. Clavin says:

    All-American Mormon niceness???
    Have you heard some of the horror stories from the LDS church?
    Then there is the rank bigotry of Proposition 8.
    And recently there have been some saying Romney is not even a very good representative of the Mormon faith…seemingly in spite of his rather large tithing. I suppose that denegrating the old and the sick and the poor is not very Mormon-like.
    Religion has no place in our politics…but if you are going to bring it up…then let’s go ahead and have at it.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 1

  20. LC says:

    I think Michael Reynolds nailed the major causes: racism and abortion. I would also add Vietnam.

    And I don’t think the political atmosphere is worse now than in the past. 1960s: riots over civil rights, birth control, abortion. 1970s: Vietnam, Cambodia, Watergate. 1980s: Reagonomics, welfare queens, Iran-Contra. 1990s: Whitewater, Monica, impeachment. 2000s: two wars, exploding debt, Karina.

    What has changed is the composition of the Republican Party and its discovery that the Senate filibuster can be used to block all business not just a few critical appointments or issues. Since we don’t have a parliamentary system, this creates a situation in which voters don’t know which party is responsible for what the government does or doesn’t do. Even worse for a democracy, they simply blame the President’s party. We now have a separation, hidden from most voters, of responsibility from accountability.

    In a parliamentary system, 1/2 of the population may find itself shut out after an election, but 100% know which party to praise or blame.

    Beyond that, I think there are fundamental differences between liberals and conservatives that transcend politics. I find myself having to simply stop arguing with certain people becuase our fundamental values, our fundamental beliefs about what a government should or should not be responsible for, are so different that no meeting of the minds is possible. (It’s the equvalent of a debate between an atheist and a Biblical Funcamentalist. Doomed to failure)

    For example, I believe that a government has a responsiblity to provide a social safety net. If you (generic you) do not, if you believe that social safety nets take money from the deserving to give to the undeserving, that people should rely only on themselves, their families, their friends and private charities then we have no common ground on which to even begin a discussion about political solutions – because you do not believe in a “political” solution of any kind and I do.

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  21. I think it’s worth noting that recent polling shows that abortion is far from being a decided issue among the American public

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 3

  22. Me Me Me says:

    @Doug Mataconis: Couldn’t disagree more. Here’s a link to a recap of two-dozen polls stretching back to 2003. Support for outlawing abortion doesn’t ever crack 26%:
    http://www.pollingreport.com/abortion.htm

    The issue is decided. Choice has won.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  23. swbarnes2 says:

    @Me Me Me:

    The issue is decided. Choice has won.

    But we still have a lot of conservative voters and politicians with policies of making abortion practically unavailable, even if it is technically legal. Conservatives don’t think those people should be allowed to have sex unless it is followed by awful consequences, because sex is too good for those kinds of people.

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  24. You could do better. You could, for instance, talk about trends in inequality and middle class income, rather than making it about “drum circles and pooping on police cars.” Your choice.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

  25. Jc says:

    Why not media? If it were not for all the 24 hr “news” shows and constant news 24-7 via the internet, youtube, old men typing up crazy emails, blogs, news on your cell, news in your restaurants, TV in every friggin place – Quit complaining! You are feeding the nuttiness that is the current political palace. The current political culture is a direct result of too much information and too much misinformation and the fact that since news is now a 24-7 thing, anything becomes news, how the hell else you going to fill all that time

    Did anything that has gone wrong in the US since 1973 have to do with abortion law? Just leave it alone.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  26. An Interested Party says:

    You could do better.

    Indeed…his post about the President’s supposed “capitulation” at the U.N. could be characterized as one of the problems that he cites in this post…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0

  27. Just 'nutha ig'rant cracker says:

    @Tsar Nicholas:

    Right now Joe White Trash Low Information Voter can walk into a Chevy dealership and buy a car for zero down and 0% interest.

    I beg to differ with you. I make income at the same level as “Joe White Trash Low Income Voter,” and the last year that I was able to qualify for an auto loan was 1978. Joe White Trash always buys used cars.

    The guy you’re thinking of is Yuppiefied Suburban Pseudo High Information Voter. I think he posts here with some sort of foreign name…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  28. Just 'nutha ig'rant cracker says:

    @michael reynolds: As a person steeped in the conservative movement from my early childhood–my parents donated to Liberty Lobby and listened to “The 20th Century Reformation Hour–I have to take sw’s side on this. At the root, the conservative movement seems to me to be lead by the lunatics. In the past, William F. Buckley was better at disguising it than spokespersons such as Ann Coulter (and others that we won’t mention here).

    My parents drew the line when they started getting mail from George Lincoln Rockwell, but never abandoned the true religion.

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  29. michael reynolds says:

    @Just ‘nutha ig’rant cracker:

    I don’t mean to absolve the alleged leaders of the GOP, just to note that I believe they’ve now been out-crazied by their base.

    You’ll notice that today the “good” conservatives like Prof. Joyner are still standing silent while their party revives Jim Crow style attempts to deny the voting rights of minorities. If it works they get jobs in Washington. If it fails they’ll pretend to have been “troubled” by it all along.

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  30. Barbara Carson says:

    I really feel we are fighting for our lives this time. We have turned a page and if we make a mistake we will regret our decisions. We accept what we are fed in the media as truth even when it is proven false. Our country is being held hostage by greedy SOBs and they shamelessly beat up on anyone who disagrees with them. We have got to the point now when Scrooge and the Mr. Potters from a Wonderful Life are considered good business men. The sad part is they convinced the Christians to accept this BS too We are living in a parallel Universe somewhere in the Twilight Zone. That is something to write about, but it is meant for Steven King.

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  31. bill says:

    @michael reynolds: c’mon, get over the jim crow bs- anyone who’s eligible to vote can and should. how hard is it to get an id, especially a free one? just think, if these “disenfranchised” Americans were stopped by the police for whatever reason and failed to produce an id they could spend the night in jail. so really, bringing up the democrats past isn’t working on us.

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  32. LC says:

    @bill:
    First, a surprising number of people do not drive, do not have licenses, and live in a cash economy.

    Second, to prove one is a citizen, one needs a birth certificate and/or naturalization certificate. Now, imagine you are adopted. Or you are a woman who has moved several times since birth, perhaps been married and divorced twice – meaning your name has changed. So, you need to contact the appropriate office in the town where you were born to get a birth certificate. I suspect the average person has no idea how to get this information. So they have to do some research and pay for the certificate and wait for it to arrive. Then, if there has been a name change (divorce, remarriage, taking a stage name), they need to get notarized copies of the legal documents. Assume the last time this change occurred was 20 or 30 years ago. Would you know who to contact? More money. More time.

    And it appears that the poll workers have the right to reject anybody if there is a difference between the name on the driver’s license, for example, and the registration rolls – even something as simple as, oh, say J.D.Smith on the registration rolls and John Denver Smith on the license.

    Neither my siblings nor I have the names we were born with, neither first (all replaced by nicknames long long ago) nor last. And none of us live in the state in which we were born. I consider myself to be relatively well-educated, internet-saavy, etc. But I figure it would take hours if not days to try and figure out, let alone get, all the papers I would need to prove to somebody that I am indeed an American citizen.

    Since you think the process is so simple, perhaps you would contribute your services free of charge to help all those who need it get the documentation they require?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 0

  33. Andre Kenji says:

    @Me Me Me:

    Here’s a link to a recap of two-dozen polls stretching back to 2003. Support for outlawing abortion doesn’t ever crack 26%:

    No, that´s more complicated. Most people in fact stays in the middle: what polls shows is that people do not want to ban ALL the abortions(They want exception for rape, incest and saving the life of the mother), but that they are not comfortable with abortion on demand. Late term abortion is even less popular.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  34. michael reynolds says:

    @bill:

    I don’t think you understand what’s happening. It isn’t just the ID issue – which LC deals with admirably above. Polling stations in black areas are set to close hours earlier than white polling stations. Sunday voting has been cut because black churches often transport their congregations to the polls on Sunday.

    All of these efforts are taking place in Republican-controlled states. It is Jim Crow. Republican leaders in these states, and national Republicans who go along, are disenfranchising voters they don’t like. They are trying to use unfair laws to steal elections. It is Jim Crow. It’s despicable.

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  35. swbarnes2 says:

    @Andre Kenji:

    people do not want to ban ALL the abortions(They want exception for rape, incest and saving the life of the mother),

    And again, it doesn’t matter what they say they want. If they vote for politicians who pass laws that don’t allow those exceptions, then that’s what happens, and pointing to polls doesn’t change that. And plenty of Republican politicians do not want those exceptions.

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  36. gVOR08 says:

    @michael reynolds: @michael reynolds:

    Race and abortion hijacked conservatism.

    I can’t agree. Conservatism exploited race and abortion. Yes, the inmates may be taking over the asylum, but that’s an unintended consequence. Who built the asylum? Who recruited the inmates?

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  37. An Interested Party says:

    so really, bringing up the democrats past isn’t working on us.

    Well of course that isn’t working on you or people like you…I’m sure you don’t mind in the slightest if minority voters are disenfranchised…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  38. Rafer Janders says:

    @bill:

    just think, if these “disenfranchised” Americans were stopped by the police for whatever reason and failed to produce an id they could spend the night in jail.

    You’re an idiot, you know that? What do you think this is, the Soviet Union? “Papers, please, citizen”, where if you don’t show ID the police can cart you away? A free American citizen is under no legal obligation to show his ID to any police officer on demand.

    Why is it always those who bleat loudest about liberty who are the most willing to countenance giving the police unlimited power?

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  39. An Interested Party says:

    A free American citizen is under no legal obligation to show his ID to any police officer on demand.

    Unless he lives in Arizona and looks Hispanic…

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  40. MBunge says:

    “generally weren’t loathsome persons after all. In fact, to my great consternation and disappointment, I often liked them.”

    And Hitler was nice to children and animals.

    Mike

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  41. superdestroyer says:

    @michael reynolds:

    thanks for confirming the stereotypes that was discussed in the posts. Can you ever write anything other than “Democrats good, Republicans bad?” Are the problems of Detroit, Newark St Louis, Baltimore, Chicago are due to Nixon’s southern strategy. Do you really believe that Rahm Emanuel is sending his own children to private school instead of the public schools that he runs because of the Southern Strategy? Do you really believe that the 41% of the children born to single mothers is due to the Southern Strategy? Do you really think that the workforce participation continues to decline due to the Southern Strategy?

    How can a two party system avoid having a “white party” and a non-white party when the vast majority of blacks are automatic Democratic Party voters and have been before the Southern Strategy? How can you call Republicans racist when Reagan was the president that foolishly pushed for amnesty for illegal immigrants?

    Where would middle class whites in the south be today even they had not moved over to the Republican party. They would be irrelevant inside a Democratic Party today even without a southern strategy.

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  42. Rafer Janders says:

    @superdestroyer:

    How can a two party system avoid having a “white party” and a non-white party when the vast majority of blacks are automatic Democratic Party voters and have been before the Southern Strategy?

    Percentage of the African-American vote won by Hoover in 1932: 85%

    Percentage of the African-America vote won by Eisenhower in 9156: 40%

    Percentage of the African-American vote won by Nixon in 1968: 36%

    Percentage of the African-American vote won by Nixon in 1972: 18%

    Percentage of the African-American vote won by Reagan in 1984: 9%

    See a trend?

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  43. michael reynolds says:

    @Rafer Janders:
    I had never seen those stats laid out so clearly. Very interesting.

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  44. Barry says:

    @Rafer Janders: Adding onto this – Doug, people think that politics stink because of people who lie.

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  45. Hoyticus says:

    The reason politics sucks in America is because We the People suck. Every time organizations do surveys to gather information on how well Americans know and understand their history and civics they fail in epic fashion. We have met the enemy and he is Us. If you want to help fix our political culture you have to do it the old fashioned way, by talking to friends and family and basically tutoring them if need be. Then hopefully they do that with the next group of communities. Yes, I already know that this sounds condescending, that’s because maybe quite a few people need to be condescended to…

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