America’s Partisan Divide Is More Unhealthy Than It Has Been In Decades

Americans have increasingly come to view their political opponents as not just wrong, but evil, stupid, and immoral. That's not something that makes for a healthy representative democratic republic.

argument-cartoon-yelling

In results that shouldn’t really surprise anybody, a new Pew Research study shows that political partisanship is higher than it has been in decades:

Fistfights at campaign rallies. A congressional sit-in. Angry political trolling on the internet. It’s not your imagination: America’s partisan divide is deeper today than at any point in nearly a quarter-century, according to a new study.

For the first time since at least 1992, the majority of Democrats and Republicans say they view the opposing party “very unfavorably,” the Pew Research Center found in a report published on Wednesday. At the same time, around half of the members of either party said their opponents stirred feelings of fear and anger in them.

“It’s really this intensity of negativity that’s increased,” said Carroll Doherty, director of political research for Pew and one of the report’s authors.

While the Pew research only goes back to 1992, the results conform with decades of growing partisan negativity in data from the American National Elections Study, a collaboration of Stanford University and the University of Michigan, Mr. Doherty said.

“You see that the same trend’s apparent going all the way back to the 1960s,” he said. “It’s really the rise of very negative views, that’s what’s most apparent if you look at our trend.”

Today, according to Pew, 91 percent of Republicans view the Democratic Party unfavorably, with 58 percent holding “very unfavorable” attitudes toward it. Among Democrats, 86 percent view the Republican Party unfavorably, while 55 percent hold it in a very unfavorable light.

The Republican Party strikes fear in the hearts of 55 percent of Democrats surveyed, Pew found. Among Republicans, 49 percent felt the same way about the Democratic Party.

At the same time, 47 percent of Democrats said Republicans made them angry, while 46 percent of Republicans said the Democratic Party made them feel angry.

(…)

In many ways, negativity toward the other party is stronger than positivity toward a person’s own, the Pew authors note.

While Democrats and Republicans generally agree with their own party most of the time, only 16 percent of Republicans and 20 percent of Democrats reported “almost always” agreeing with their own side’s policies. Yet, 44 percent of each party’s membership said they “almost never” agree with their opposition.

That rising partisanship has been matched by an increase in the number of political independents, who still tend to lean toward one party or the other, Mr. Doherty said. But even the direction in which those independents gravitate is defined more by opposition than support.

(…)

Partisans also tend to have dim views of individuals. A large majority of Democrats find their political opponents especially rigid, with 70 percent saying Republicans are more close-minded than other Americans. Democrats said Republicans stood out in other ways, too: 42 percent found them more dishonest than other Americans; 35 percent said members of the other party were more immoral than the rest of the nation.

While a smaller share of Republicans found Democrats especially rigid, larger proportions — between 45 percent and 47 percent for each category — said Democrats stood out for their immorality, laziness or dishonesty.

Just over half of Republicans surveyed, 52 percent, said Democrats were more close-minded than the rest of the populace.

Roughly 1 in 3 members of each party said they considered their political counterparts to be less intelligent than other Americans.

As I said, none of this should come as a surprise to anyone who has been paying attention over the past several decades. Politics has always aroused strong passions among Americans going back to the Founder’s Era, and there have certainly been eras where political passion has manifested itself in far more dangerous and violent ways than we tend to see today, such as during the years preceding the Civil War, not to mention the war itself which was essentially a political argument transferred to the battlefield. Those eras have tended to be the exception rather than the rule, though, and even during some of the most contentious times in the nation’s history, people of different political persuasion have found ways to work together to get the basic tasks of government done, and seemed to at least know how to conduct a political discussion without resorting to invective, insults, and attacks. As anyone who has spent even a short amount of time engaged in political dialogue in recent years can tell you, that’s quite simply no longer the case. Each side has their own news sites on the Internet that they default to for information and analysis, and any effort to introduce opposing ideas is immediately shot down with rejection, insults, and ridicule. Rather than listening to each other, we’re shouting at each other and basically just repeating the slogans that comfort us with the belief that our own pre-existing ideas are right, and that anyone who disagrees with us is not just wrong, but evil, stupid, and the proper target of nothing but insults.  Both sides will deny it, of course, but it’s absolutely true and, yes, it is something that both sides do, as this poll confirms in stark and disturbing detail.

I’ve discussed this issue several times before — see here, here, and here for just three examples — and as I’ve noted each time, the dangers of this type of approach to politics should be rather obvious. A political philosophy where you, seemingly by default, you view the people you disagree with as not just opponents in a political debate but evil, wrong, and stupid is one that is guaranteed to create conditions that make accomplishing anything next to impossible. We live in a nation of more than 300 million people from a wide variety of backgrounds whose opinions about high profile issues in politics are going to be influenced by very different factors. The idea that any one of us have all of the correct answers and nothing to learn from those who disagree with us is the height of a dangerous form of arrogance that seems incompatible with a pluralistic representative democracy, and yet thanks to the rise of a world where people’s sources of news and opinion have seemingly become increasingly segregated by ideology as a people we’ve become more and more assured that what we believe is not only correct, but indisputably correct. In such a world, anyone who disagrees with us must therefore be the enemy. This conclusion is further reinforced by pundits and politicians on both sides of the aisle who eagerly turn their opponents into enemies that must be ridiculed endlessly and destroyed. Donald Trump excelled in this particular skill during the race for the Republican nomination as he reduced his opponents not by actually taking his opponents on based on the merits of their ideas, but in exceedingly distasteful personal ways that made the race seem more like a fight on a Middle School playground than a race for the Presidency of the United States. Trump wasn’t doing anything new, though, he was merely bringing to the debate stage and the speaking circuit the same sort of partisan vulgarity that one sees on both sides of the aisle on a daily basis. It shouldn’t be surprising that he succeeded, because he was speaking the language of modern American politics.

This isn’t to suggest that every political opinion is equal, of course. When one’s approach to politics is tinged with racism, xenophobia, and obvious biases toward those who are different it is entirely legitimate for your political opponents to point this out and use it as a point of attack. The same is true of policy ideas that amount to little more than discriminating against people on the basis of race, ethnicity, religion, gender, sexual orientation or other factors that are, in the end, not relevant to the discussion at hand. Someone is perfectly welcome to believe these things, but shouldn’t expect to be immune from criticism for their beliefs. At the same time, though, it’s important to recognize that not everyone who disagrees with you on some policy idea is doing so based on an intent to discriminate. Not everyone who supports Voter ID, for example, does so because they want to suppress minorities from voting. For many supporters, Voter ID is necessary to prevent voter fraud and questioning their motives or reflexively calling them racist or stupid isn’t going to change their mind, or at least come to the conclusion that perhaps the problem of in-person voter fraud isn’t as bad as they’ve been led to believe. The same is true of a whole host of other issues. In other words, it’s worthwhile to actually talk to the people who disagree with us rather than immediately assuming the worst about them, because the more we do that the less likely it is that we’re going to accomplish anything other than fanning the flames of partisanship, which is exactly what those who profit from such an environment want.

FILED UNDER: General, US Politics
Doug Mataconis
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. Before joining OTB, he wrote at Below The BeltwayThe Liberty Papers, and United Liberty Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. gVOR08 says:

    Let’s try one tiny bite at the apple and look at voter ID. First, we often need to distinguish between voters on the one hand and politicians and other active political actors. The rank and file conservatives I know are quite sincere in believing there is in-person voter fraud at some non-trivial level and that IDs are necessary to protect the system. They are also for the most part good people to whom I’d loan a hundred dollars anytime. But would you, Doug, seriously claim that the politicians who are pushing ID laws are not doing so in a conscious effort to suppress opposition voters? I would readily concede that Dem pols fighting the ID laws are mindful of the electoral impact.

  2. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Well Doug, when the other side starts dealing in reality, you know, that climate change is real and caused by man, that weapons of war have no business on the streets of America, that tax cuts do NOT fix everything and that the price of living in a civilized society IS TAXES and that good governance is something all tax payers deserve, that there is no such thing as a free market- one can only have a regulated market or a captured market, that women’s health care is a purely private matter, that what I do behind my bedroom door is nobodies business but my own as long as it is between 2 consenting adults, that ALL men and women deserve equal protection of the law, that EVERY American of adult age has the right to vote…. Need I go on?

    For EVERY SINGLE THING I listed above, there is no small # of Republicans who think I am evil for even muttering such heresies and I think they are complete idiots absolutely devoid of reason for believing that.

    That doesn’t make them evil -I’ll make an exception for the gun nuts who think owning any gun legally permissible, and more than a few that aren’t, is more important than a child’s life? Yeah, them fvckers are evil- it makes them confused. They really believe that the very basis of religious freedom is they get to make other people live as they see fit. Or that millions of scientists the whole world over are lying to them because they hate coal.

    This probably won’t post anyway so I won’t put any more time in it. Suffice to say I could go on forever.

  3. grumpy realist says:

    As long as the media have those 24-hr news channels to fill and those living in the fund-raising ecology can continue to raise money off demonizing the other side, they’re going to continue doing so.

    I often think that NBC, Fox, CBS, and everyone else would gladly watch the US get split in half as long as they could continue to sell ads and send cameras out to gawk at our antagonism at each other. And am quite sure that the grifters will happily snorfle money out of the rubes as long they can continue to send out hysterical newsletters.

  4. Andrew says:

    The years and years of Us vs Them propaganda pushed down the collective throats of all the people in the United States including myself, by our selected dealers of choice (read “Media”), which can be now be tuned into at will based on your own political slant…and every other view completely ignored….
    On top of that the first black president, our nations first…seems the chickens have come home, no?

    It’s a Political PR wet dream. They have us all where they want us. Divide and Conquer.

  5. Jenos Idanian says:

    There’s nothing wrong with demonizing your opponents when they really are demons. And it’s easy to say your political opponents are as bad or worse than actual enemies of the nation, because they’re right here in your faces, and you can be pretty certain that they won’t kill you over it (unlike, say, what might happen if you draw a picture of Mohammed.)

    The most potent term I’ve seen on the right for their political opponents, so far, is TWANLOC — Those Who Are No Longer Our Countrymen. Compare that with “American Taliban,” “Teahadists,” and a slew of other terms I could readily cull from the comments here. There’s an elegance and dignity and sense of regret in TWANLOC that I don’t see in the terms from the Left.

  6. Guarneri says:

    @Jenos Idanian:

    Jane, you ignorant slut……

  7. Guarneri says:

    Jane, you ignorant slut……

  8. SenyorDave says:

    @Jenos Idanian: Maybe they don’t use handy dandy terms, but one difference is the number of Republican leaders who openly question the patriotism of the president. Or blame him for events that he clearly has no blame, such as Orlando (John McCain). He’s not just wrong, but according to a large part of Congressional republicans, he’s either intentionally trying to bring down the country or just so stupid that he’s barely worthy of acknowledging. The whole birther thing was blatantly racist, and was accepted by a large number of sitting members of Congress. GWB was the most incompetent president in my lifetime by a mile (virtually every major thing he did ended being bad for the country), but I never for a second questioned his patriotism, and there was never any of the kind of talk about Bush that the Republicans routinely use to describe Obama.

  9. Andre Kenji says:

    @grumpy realist: Talk radio and cable news are barely an issue in Brazil, and I´m seeing the same levels of partisanship here.

  10. grumpy realist says:

    @Andre Kenji: Oho! What do you think is the reason, then? Are we simply amusing ourselves to death?

  11. michael reynolds says:

    Doug:

    I agree, and I say this as a person who has not been shy about beating up on political opponents. But on the Left it has moved from debates on issues to heretic hunts, semantic obsessions with the “proper’ word, and demands for instantaneous adherence to the latest doctrine, all accompanied by a complete absence of generosity.

    On the Right. . . well, that’s just all come apart completely, a moral and intellectual meltdown. I don’t even know what the Right is anymore, a confusion obviously mirrored by the more intellectually-inclined folks on the Right.

    Some big things are changing. The old categories mean less and less. When the Left is a poor undocumented kid and a small ‘l’ libertarian Silicon Valley billionaire, we have a disconnect, as the Sanders campaign so clearly revealed.

    But it’s more than that. Real-world communities are being replaced by online communities. Everything is customizable, personalized, specific to an individual. My iPhone is not your iPhone. The smallest rituals – meals eaten together, TV shows watched at the same time, are gone or going. Institutions are treated as hostile – government is an occupier, cops are predators, church attendance is down and the gap between believer and non-believer is becoming more defining. Education is being taken out of the schools and moved to the internet. Our very concepts of time and space are being radically re-imagined in a world where everything can be time-shifted or relocated.

    I happen to be in Anaheim (very much against my will) at a hotel discussing politics with people spread all over the country and world. My daughter is at Vidcon. I ask her who she’s hanging out with and it turns out she’s with a bunch of people — on her phone. Those people are as real and as present in her mind as the couple of actual humans she occasionally runs into.

    That’s not normal for h. sapiens.

    In my hand I have a device which can answer every single question of fact for which answers exist. I can look up at the sky and tap an app and know the names of every star. I can order Indian food and have it brought to me. I can move money around. I can watch basically every movie or TV show ever made at any time. I can play a game against someone sitting on his toilet in Vladivostok. I can do it all right here, sitting by the hotel pool. I can just watch a starving child in real time or a cat playing with yarn.

    None of this is normal. It’s doing things to us. We are evolving and adapting to a world where almost nothing is a given, where assigned roles are easily discarded, where knowledge is cheap and easy; a world where 10,000 nukes are not enough to protect you from one nut with a rifle. Old lines are blurred or gone, new lines are being drawn. I think we’re in the middle of a huge cultural paradigm shift, a revolution that is more about technology than class or race.

    It’s either trippy and amazing, or godawful, depending on how it comes out in the end.

  12. Guarneri says:

    Thank god Democrats don’t make campaign ads showing grandma being thrown off the cliff, accusing them of poisoning children’s water, claim Republicans are all racists, lying us into war, or gun nuts responsible for murder.

    Yes, civil discourse indeed.

  13. wr says:

    @michael reynolds: “It’s either trippy and amazing, or godawful, depending on how it comes out in the end.”

    I think it’s both…

  14. CSK says:

    @grumpy realist:

    If I could jump into this, with apologies to Andre, I do think it’s the Internet, and the enormous vehicle it affords for people to vent rage and spread disinformation with no consequence. Add that to the fact that there are no filters, so demented conspiracy theories can mushroom overnight and become “fact.” Any paranoid crackpot semi-literate with a blog becomes a “news source.”

  15. Hal_10000 says:

    It’s interesting you post this on the day of the Brexit where, it seems, half the Internet is calling the other half bigots and the second half is calling the first half elitist twonks. There seems to be a growing disconnect between the two groups. It is part of what Trump is tapping into. And I’m afraid that if we continue on this path (e.g., writing off Trump supporters as idiotic bigots), it will culminate in our own shocking election come November.

  16. Jenos Idanian says:

    @SenyorDave: I’ll speak for myself, because I am the official designated spokesperson of a party of one.

    On Orlando, I’ve said that I’m disgusted with the fear of being called “Islamophobic” has kept a lot of people from reporting warning signs of impending attacks of Sudden Jihadi Syndrome, and Obama’s been a big proponent of that one. “Clock Boy” didn’t invent anything; he took an old Radio Shack clock and rearranged it to look kinda like a bomb, and got a trip to the White House. And when another Muslim kills a bunch of Americans, Obama usually sounds more angry at “those who slander the prophet of Islam” than the killers and their supporters.

    The Birther thing? That was a net positive for Obama. He got to use a few nuts to tar pretty much any opposition to him as Birther and racist. I knew it was a losing move, but it took Trump to finally take that off the table.

    For more examples, just wait for a couple of the regulars here to respond to my comments.

  17. Moderate Mom says:

    I think Michael hits it on the head. There is very little commonality remaining between Democrats and Republicans. It’s like they are two different countries, fighting over the country of Independent that lies between them, both of them believing in the absolute truth of their beliefs. Doesn’t leave much room for any give and take between the two.

  18. Bookdragon says:

    @Guarneri: Or conservatives advocating “2nd Amendment solutions” if people they disagree with are elected….

  19. Hal_10000 says:

    One caveat about that poll: I wonder if we’re seeing a bit of an evaporative cooling effect. Fewer people identify as Republicans and Democrats these days and the ones who do are more likely to be highly partisan.

  20. Gustopher says:

    Both sides will deny it, of course, but it’s absolutely true and, yes, it is something that both sides do, as this poll confirms in stark and disturbing detail.

    Facts not in evidence from the poll — you are providing your own interpretation based on the rather limited results of the poll.

    The poll says that each side views the other very unfavorably — but it has no way of measuring whether this is a reasonable or unreasonable thing to do. taking a simplistic approach, there are four possibilities:
    1. Democrats unjustly malign Republicans, and Republicans rightfully malign Democrats
    2. Democrats unjustly malign Republicans, and Republicans unjustly malign Democrats
    3. Democrats rightfully malign Republicans, and Republicans rightfully malign Democrats
    4. Democrats rightfully malign Republicans, and Republicans unjustly malign Democrats

    In only two of those cases, 2 and 3, can one say “both sides do it” for some definition of it.,

  21. Gustopher says:

    @michael reynolds: When has a revolution not been about class or race? Either an actual revolution or a social revolution?

    The ostensible reasons might not be, but it always seems to end up divided by class and race.

  22. @Gustopher:

    there are four possibilities

    Only if you assume Democrat and Republican are two amorphous hive minds for which virtue and vice must be necessarily be uniform for every individual within them.

  23. Pch101 says:

    In the old days, both major political parties had their respective wings of bigots. Now, only one of them does.

    It’s no wonder that there is more partisanship now. Issues such as civil rights weren’t on anyone’s radar. The American political scene didn’t bother with such niceties; this is a country that established itself as a beacon of liberty while much of its population was owned.

    Now that the old Dixiecrats are in bed with the establishment right under the same GOP umbrella, there is no need to or point in trying to cut deals across the aisle on divisive legislative issues. One will either have enough votes within his party or else it just isn’t going to pass.

    Partisanship will go away if the US returns to having two parties that both have their respective right, center and leftish wings and that don’t identify primarily along right-left lines, as was the case in the past when the party split was more urban-industrial/ rural-agricultural rather than right-left. (The old alignment had produced an oddball union between urban Catholic immigrants and the Southern rural WASPs who denounced Catholicism at their Klan meetings.)

    I don’t see how that’s possibly going to shift just as long as the Southern bloc and the conservative movement belong to the same party; they are culturally more similar to each other than the old party alignment ever was.

  24. DrDaveT says:

    @Pch101:

    In the old days, both major political parties had their respective wings of bigots. Now, only one of them does.

    Yeah, but Jenos wants to claim that calling a bigot a bigot is a form of bigotry every bit as evil as being a bigot in the first place. That way, he preserves parity of victimhood.

  25. Pch101 says:

    @DrDaveT:

    Yeah, but Jenos wants to claim that calling a bigot a bigot is a form of bigotry every bit as evil as being a bigot in the first place.

    The half-wit wing of the GOP is under the impression that 1984 was intended to be an instruction manual. That’s why they need their own media; since reality won’t do, it must be changed or ignored.

  26. Gustopher says:

    @Stormy Dragon: it’s a simplified version, as I stated. i was merely trying to point out that Mr. Mataconis is interpreting the data this survey provides in a way to match his preconceived notions.

  27. Gustopher says:

    @Jenos Idanian: I can never quite remember, is this actual “irony” or just one of the many misuses of the word?

  28. grumpy realist says:

    Not to mention the number of internet trolls who just love saying outrageous things to see how high they can fan the flames.

    I think that’s another problem. People get furious because they can’t do anything to the trolls and their anger just ends up cascading down into other interactions with other people.

    We really need to add something to internet communications. The ability to challenge each other to a duel, perhaps? (I’m only half joking). If we don’t police human-to-human communications in some way…

  29. stonetools says:

    For many supporters, Voter ID is necessary to prevent voter fraud and questioning their motives or reflexively calling them racist or stupid isn’t going to change their mind, or at least come to the conclusion that perhaps the problem of in-person voter fraud isn’t as bad as they’ve been led to believe. The same is true of a whole host of other issues.

    Speaking ex cathedra for African American community, we don’t give a flying f%*k what’s in the minds of people pushing the voter suppression laws. The result of the application of those laws will be suppress minority voting . Whether they honestly believe that in person voter fraud is a big problem or whether they are cynically lying in order to whip up support for those laws is of no interest to me at this point. I just want those laws overturned.
    Back in the Jim Crow days, there were white people who honestly believed that segregation was good for black people. Heck , there are folks who say that today. I’m not even going to try to change the minds of such people. These people are going to believe what they want to, d@mn the evidence, because those beliefs just happen to serve their interests or simply just makes them feel better.
    I’m sorry to be so uncompromising about this, Doug, but I’m frankly tired of catering to people who won’t listen to reason or evidence. In an earlier time, I tried to reason with young earth creationists.I gave up on that after a while. They were sincere, well meaning people who HAD to believe that the earth was 6,000 years old. Similarly, there are people who have to believe that in person voter fraud is a thing, that there is a tide of brown people daily flooding over the borders that is going to overrun American society, that climate change is a fraud, that more and more guns will make us safer and safer, that tax cuts for the rich will solve every economic problem, and a host of other conservative bromides that are as irrational as believing in a 6,000 year old Earth. I’m at the point where the only thing that can be done is to vote out the politicians who cater to these folk. You aren’t going to able to reason with them. Sorry to be a wet blanket here, but that’s how I see it.

  30. wr says:

    @Jenos Idanian: Shorter Jenos: “I’m going to say a bunch of stupid, vile things and when people object that just proves they’re the problem.”

  31. wr says:

    @stonetools: If you don’t mind, I’d like to consider you my friend.

  32. stonetools says:

    @Pch101:

    Bingo. Its not that there its more partisanship than before. It’s just that thanks to the Great Shuffling that began in the 60s the conservatives are all in the Republican Party and the liberals are all in the Democratic Party.Conservatives and liberals just believe different things and have a different vision for the country. That has always been. It’s just more obvious now because they are each all in one party.
    Frankly, the problem is not really partisanship. It’s that one party is the party of sane policy, and that the other party is now simply the party of insane policy, or no policy at all on many issues. You really can’t do rational compromise with a party that has just stopped doing rational policy altogether.

  33. Just 'nutha ig'rant cracker says:

    @Jenos Idanian: As one of those who, to me, is now TWANLOC, I now ask you: Since you hate my country so much, why don’t you just GTFA?

    You’re right, much more elegant and regretful than saying “Sod off ya worthless git!”

  34. Just 'nutha ig'rant cracker says:

    @michael reynolds: I’m going with godawful because it reinforces the separation. As a substitute teacher, I have discovered that I have a tool for maintaining classroom order that I didn’t have before I moved to Korea to teach. If I give the students permission to use their I phones, they don’t disturb their classmates. They don’t engage in discussions, do classwork, or interact with anybody either, but…

  35. Just 'nutha ig'rant cracker says:

    @Jenos Idanian: And another non-answer from TWANLOC. Is there any way that you can move your party of one to a location outside of my country?

  36. Just 'nutha ig'rant cracker says:

    @Stormy Dragon: I think that for this kind of analysis, as is true for economics, an omnia sint paribus approach is necessary. To work from another worldview will make the variables too extreme to draw conclusions.

    Now, if you want to challenge the usefulness of coming to conclusions on topics such as this one (and/or economics, for that matter)…

  37. Just 'nutha ig'rant cracker says:

    @grumpy realist: Serious question: Are internet communications “human to human?”

  38. Just 'nutha ig'rant cracker says:

    @Just ‘nutha ig’rant cracker: For example, I don’t consider Jenos human in any meaningful way when I post to/about him. I don’t consider him subhuman or non-human, or even particularly evil or loathsome (at least most of the time). He’s simply a false name on the screen.

    And I am sure that he holds the same regard to/for me. If he knew me, he would know that responding to something that I have said with “Sod off ya worthless git” was genuinely dangerous. Fortunately, we’re separated by the infinite cosmos of the interwebs and I need not react to what he has said because of the degree of separation and unreality of it all. (Which brings me back to my comment to Reynolds above in the thread.)

  39. Gavrilo says:

    Rather than listening to each other, we’re shouting at each other and basically just repeating the slogans that comfort us with the belief that our own pre-existing ideas are right, and that anyone who disagrees with us is not just wrong, but evil, stupid, and the proper target of nothing but insults. Both sides will deny it, of course, but it’s absolutely true and, yes, it is something that both sides do, as this poll confirms in stark and disturbing detail.

    But, currently it’s only the left that is escalating beyond words and attitudes. It is only the left that stages violent protests at opponent’s political events. It is only the left that regularly disrupts opponent’s speeches on college campuses. It is only the left that destroys the careers of private citizens for donating to political causes that they don’t like.

    And, it’s that escalation that really poisons the process and precludes any chance of actually listening to each other.

  40. An Interested Party says:

    A congressional sit-in.

    I find it interesting that has been the only mention of that event on this blog…I guess it was nothing more than dirty cheap partisan politics, right?

    Both sides will deny it, of course, but it’s absolutely true and, yes, it is something that both sides do, as this poll confirms in stark and disturbing detail.

    It must be so nice to be in that high cocoon of libertarianism, looking down on the two sides with equal disgust…I mean, how many ways can one say “both sides do it”…

    For more examples, just wait for a couple of the regulars here to respond to my comments.

    Wouldn’t it be easier to just wear a sign that says, in big bold letters, “PLEASE PAY ATTENTION TO ME!!!!!!”…

  41. An Interested Party says:

    But, currently it’s only the left that is escalating beyond words and attitudes. It is only the left that stages violent protests at opponent’s political events. It is only the left that regularly disrupts opponent’s speeches on college campuses. It is only the left that destroys the careers of private citizens for donating to political causes that they don’t like.

    It’s only the right that is trying to make it harder for certain groups of people to vote…particularly one group of people who were denied the right to vote in the past through Jim Crow laws…history certainly does repeat itself…

  42. al-Ameda says:

    @Jenos Idanian:

    The Birther thing? That was a net positive for Obama. He got to use a few nuts to tar pretty much any opposition to him as Birther and racist. I knew it was a losing move, but it took Trump to finally take that off the table.

    I’ve got to ask: Do you consider 50% of Republicans to be “a few nuts”?

  43. MBunge says:

    It’s weird to write something like this and then link it to voter ID laws. There is no appreciable voting fraud in this country. There just isn’t. It doesn’t matter what anyone believes. By any evidentiary standard, impediments to voting are vastly more common than voting fraud.

    On the other hand, it’s damn amusing to see people refer to themselves as the sane ones in politics when they are about to nominate someone for President who could be indicted for breaking federal laws, and they’ve known about that possibility for the better part of a year.

    Mike

  44. An Interested Party says:

    …someone for President who could be indicted for breaking federal laws…

    Bernie Sanders could win over enough super delegates to win the Democratic nomination…the national debt could be paid off sometime soon…all the members of Congress could link hands and sing Kumbaya…the lost city of Atlantis could reemerge…

  45. Gustopher says:

    it’s important to recognize that not everyone who disagrees with you on some policy idea is doing so based on an intent to discriminate.

    Why?

    We’ve hit a point where there is a large segment of society that is willfully ignorant — they get their “news” from the comment sections at breitbart.com or fox, and close their little minds to anything that they find disagreeable.

    If the result of their actions and beliefs is to discriminate, and they have closed themselves off from facts, why does it matter whether their intent is to discriminate or not?

  46. Jim Brown 32 says:

    @Pch101: What world do you live in? Obviously not a black mans world. Liberals can be just as racist as Conservatives. I’ve traveled all over this country and in the Liberal states (outside of the cities) I get the coldest of looks for having invaded their white wonderland. At least Red State rascists hide their prejudice behind some cordiality and politeness.

    Liberals always put a minority face on their crusades….and later stiff arm said minority in favor of whites.

  47. rachel says:

    @Just ‘nutha ig’rant cracker: I tell mine they can use their phones as long as they speak or Kakaotalk in English only

    ETA: Of course, you have to make the rules at the start of the term.

  48. Jenos Idanian says:

    @Just ‘nutha ig’rant cracker: And another non-answer from TWANLOC. Is there any way that you can move your party of one to a location outside of my country?

    Make an offer. How much do you want me gone?

  49. Jenos Idanian says:

    OK, let me step down the civility a touch, as it didn’t seem to do much.

    Some things that have led me to my current state of mind:

    Being told that if I support Candidate A, I will be called a racist.

    Being told that if I oppose Candidate B, I will be called a racist.

    Being told that if I support policy C, I will be called a racist.

    Being told that if I oppose Policy D, I will be called a racist.

    Being told that if I don’t take Side E on an event, I will be called a racist.

    Being told that if I raise questions about Item F, I will be called a racist.

    Being told that if I believe idea G, I will be called a racist.

    Being told that if I reject — or even question — Idea H, I will be called a racist.

    Finally, being told that I cannot even begin to have a reasonable discussion until I first admit (“acknowledge/accept”) my racism.

    I spent a lot of time arguing against each of those, before coming to the conclusion that it wasn’t a sincere attempt at discussion, but a form of shutuppery. I’d say that it’s ridiculous to conflate (whatever) with racism, only to be told that racism was “the only possible explanation,” usually accompanied by some truly absurd rationalizations.

    So I gave up on arguing those points and started treating them as the insincere attempts they were. My attitude became “FU,” or, if you prefer another historical allusion, “publish and be damned.”

    You wanna talk issues? I can talk issues. You wanna have a circle-jerk, where you get everyone to stroke in unison about how much smarter and more educated and morally superior and enlightened and tolerant and better you all are? Not only will I decline to participate, I just might rudely point out how wrong you are.

  50. wr says:

    @Jenos Idanian: Maybe the reason people keep calling you a racist is because you continue to expose racist viiewpoints.

    Just a thought.

  51. al-Ameda says:

    Our current state – an intense partisan divide – is exactly what Americans want. How do we know this? Because they (we) voted for it.

    Polling is always so misleading – people will SAY they’re tired of the partisan politics, but what they really mean is they’re tired of waiting for those with opposing viewpoints to come around to the correct point of view.

  52. JohnMcC says:

    From OTB I dropped into newrepublic-dot-com. Very highly recommend Jared Sexton’s article there on this topic: I Told the Truth About a Donald Trump Rally. Then the Trolls Threatened My Life. It has a surprising final couple of paragraphs. Read it to the end.

  53. stonetools says:

    @JohnMcC:

    The happy ending is comforting, but I note that he hasn’t disconnected his security system.
    Some trolls came round, but a lot did not.
    Bottomline, there really is a blue America and a red America. I’m just hoping that blue America is bigger than red America. I’m not convinced that much of red America can be persuaded to become blue America

  54. gVOR08 says:

    @stonetools: Some time ago I read Russell Kirk’s The Conservative Mind. This was one of the foundational works of movement conservatism “arguably one of the greatest contributions to twentieth-century American Conservatism”. I found it to be well written, very erudite, and not very good. It’s mostly 11 chapters repeating, ‘______ was the only writer of his age who understood the higher truth.’ A truth that neither ______ or Kirk seemed able to explicate. It was, however, a very revealing book. There are two big takeaways from the book. One is what I’ve referred to in these threads as The Kirk Fallacy, the believe that political liberals are to blame for all change. The second is that Kirk explicitly and repeatedly identifies positivism as THE enemy of conservatism. Per Wiktionary:

    positivism ‎- (philosophy) A doctrine that states that the only authentic knowledge is scientific knowledge, and that such knowledge can only come from positive affirmation of theories through strict scientific method, refusing every form of metaphysics.

    It is not a matter of tactics or an accident of recent history that the beliefs and policies of one party are consistently more evidence based than those of the other.

  55. Gustopher says:

    @Jim Brown 32:

    Liberals can be just as racist as Conservatives. I’ve traveled all over this country and in the Liberal states (outside of the cities) I get the coldest of looks for having invaded their white wonderland. At least Red State rascists hide their prejudice behind some cordiality and politeness.

    First, it’s worth pointing out that outside of the cities in liberal states, we get into the Republican territories. There’s a saying about Pennsylvania: it’s Pittsburg on one side, Philidelphia on the other, and Kentucky in between. Pennsyltucky, they call it. Most of the states that vote Democrat have something similar, just without good names.

    These are also often the Aggrieved Republican areas — they don’t get their way on statewide votes, and they blame the cities. They think their taxes are being collected and spent in the cities (the opposite is true in every state I have lived in).

    So, since you are specifically pointing out you experience racist reactions outside the cities, it’s worth remembering who the people are who live there.

    Second, of course liberals are racist too — people are fundamentally suspicious of the unfamiliar, and uncomfortable around the unfamiliar, and shun the unfamiliar. It is human nature, and where there is segregation (and cities are often de facto segregated, as are many professions), you’re going to have racism. And, sexism at work in many industries.

    Liberals’ personal racism is generally of the clueless uncomfortable form, rather than the threatened “America is changing, eek” form. It’s a less worse form, since exposure to people of other races makes them more comfortable and less racist. Still racist though.

    But, liberals pursue policies that are better than the liberals themselves are.

  56. Just 'nutha ig'rant cracker says:

    @Jenos Idanian: But nobody cares, Jenos, because along with being one of TWANLOC, you’re not even a person. You’re just a name on the screen that some of us laugh about.

    Which brings me back to your previous post. Not important enough to pay to leave, I’ll pass. Sometimes, I read what you write and think “for all of the horrible qualities and arrogance that I have that has destroyed relationships in my life and caused untold sadness and grief, at least I’m not Jenos.”

  57. JohnMcC says:

    @stonetools: You are correct of course that hate is not weaker because a couple of relationships flickered. Still, the fracture lines are so awful that a counter-narrative seemed worth mentioning.

    When I read the Original Post I was reminded of a little personal event. By one of life’s amazing coincidences I ran into a guy here in FL that I’d known in college over 40 yrs ago. Had him over for a cookout and he noticed some magazines on our coffee table. Asked me about them and basically I told him that I was a liberal. He looked at me in amazement and asked ‘why don’t you love America?’

  58. Jenos Idanian says:

    @gVOR08: It is not a matter of tactics or an accident of recent history that the beliefs and policies of one party are consistently more evidence based than those of the other.

    True dat. One side says that gun control laws don’t work, that the stricter the gun control laws are, the more violent crimes are reported, and say that maybe gun control doesn’t work.

    One side says that the welfare state and the “war on poverty” has caused about as much devastation to the black family as slavery did.

    One side says that there are serious differences between legal and illegal immigrants, and that they should be treated differently.

    One side says that the existing laws should be followed and enforced, unless changed, and not redefined on the fly or just ignored when they are inconvenient.

    All positions backed up by more consistent evidence than the opposite.

    Why do you hate science and reality so much?

  59. Jenos Idanian says:

    @JohnMcC: Interesting read, from a professor of creative writing. Amazing that no one actually tried to kill him.

    You know, like one illegal alien tried to kill Trump. And a producer with NBC tweeted out asking if that guy was “a good guy with a gun.”

  60. Jenos Idanian says:

    @Just ‘nutha ig’rant cracker: I don’t want any sympathy, wouldn’t accept it anyway. My main goal has degenerated to “rubbing noses in their own hypocrisy.”

    I’ve known for a while that I’ve been effectively dehumanized here, but it is nice to have it officially confirmed. It also means I should seriously consider following suit.

  61. Gustopher says:

    @Jenos Idanian:

    One side says that the welfare state and the “war on poverty” has caused about as much devastation to the black family as slavery did.

    We really should reform the welfare system to be less devastating on families. Here are a few suggestions:

    – Stop seizing the most able bodied workers from Africa, putting them in chains, and bringing them here against their will even though many die on the journey, just to bolster the welfare rolls. Taking away the breadwinners devastates the families in Africa.

    – Stop selling welfare recipients on the open market, or at least pass some kind of law that they be sold as a family unit.

    – Mandingo fighting with welfare recipients… Entirely wrong, and the workers in the welfare offices really need to stop that. It’s just disgusting.

    – Also, the workers in the welfare offices should stop raping the women on welfare. They cannot meaningfully give consent when they are the property of the welfare office, and can be beaten or killed if they refuse.

    – We should let welfare recipients learn to read.

    – When someone attempts to leave the welfare rolls, we should stop hunting them down across state borders, dragging them back in chains, beating them mercilessly, and then selling them down the river to work the cotton fields in Mississippi, where the mortality rate is far higher.

    – We should stop forcing the welfare recipients to work, while we keep all the profits from their labor.

    – Also should taper off welfare benefits as the families income rises, so we don’t create a spot where all benefits suddenly vanish, and give the welfare recipients a perverse incentive to not earn more than $X.

  62. stonetools says:

    Heh, OT , hat tip to LGM:

    At a Federalist Society lunch in Washington yesterday, conservative columnist and TV commentator George Will announced that he changed his Maryland voter registration this month from Republican to unaffiliated. “This is not my party,” he told the crowd, according to an account by PJ Media’s Nicholas Ballasy.

    Will, who has arguably been the most biting and prolific member of the conservative anti-Trump club, reportedly cited House Speaker Paul Ryan’s endorsement of Trump as one of the last straws, and was noncommittal about whether he would support Libertarian presidential nominee Gary Johnson. Asked by Ballasy to recommend what conservative anti-Trumpers should do now, Will said: “Make sure he loses.”

    When you’ve lost George Will…

    Hey, Jenos, maybe you should focus on trying to win back George Will and Brent Scowcroft, not on posting troll bait like

    One side says that the welfare state and the “war on poverty” has caused about as much devastation to the black family as slavery did.

    Meanwhile Doug might want to consider how you could have reasoned debate with people who believe nonsense like that. And yes, there are Republican political and opinion leaders who have said just this kind of thing, including as it happens, one George Will.

  63. Gustopher says:

    @Jenos Idanian:

    I’ve known for a while that I’ve been effectively dehumanized here, but it is nice to have it officially confirmed.

    Well, I guess I should offer congratulations, since you’ve worked hard at dehumanizing yourself, but part of me doesn’t quite buy it — animals lack some of the most noble aspects of humanity, but also some of the most despicable aspects, and you have truly embraced some of those.

    So, I’m sorry, but you haven’t dehumanized yourself, you’ve merely demonstrated the qualities of one of the lesser members of the species.

  64. gVOR08 says:

    @stonetools:

    George Will announced that he changed his Maryland voter registration this month from Republican to unaffiliated

    I see that even the commenters at POLITICO recognize that Will helped build the Party he’s now bailing on. Suppose he’ll recognize the reality of Global Warming next?

  65. Tyrell says:

    One survey shows over 50% disfavor both candidates. It seems a good time to start a new party that will stay around and can be built from the ground up with participation in local, state, and federal elections. This looks to be a 3 clothespin election.

  66. JohnMcC says:

    @Gustopher: Also too Hank Paulson has come out for Hillary. I don’t take a great deal of comfort in that, myself, but it is good news if it indicates the ongoing collapse of the Republican party is accelerating.

  67. steve s says:

    I see that even the commenters at POLITICO recognize that Will helped build the Party he’s now bailing on. Suppose he’ll recognize the reality of Global Warming next?

    Probly not. He’s probly getting a lot of money to go Global-Warming Denial. The Exxons have been getting nervous these last few years, and they pay millions for Denial Messaging.

  68. Jenos Idanian says:

    @stonetools: Hey, Jenos, maybe you should focus on trying to win back George Will and Brent Scowcroft…

    Win them back? I’ve been out of the GOP for years. They’re joining me.

  69. Jenos Idanian says:

    @Gustopher: So, I’m sorry, but you haven’t dehumanized yourself, you’ve merely demonstrated the qualities of one of the lesser members of the species.

    Bite my shiny metal ass, meatbag.

  70. Galen Faulkes says:

    Interesting how many people chose to use the comment section of an article about excessive partisanship to have a Democrat vs. Republican pissing match.

  71. Just 'nutha ig'rant cracker says:

    @Jenos Idanian: I don’t recall having offered any sympathy. And I agree with Gustopher that for the identity of who has dehumanized Jenos, you need a mirror, not opponents to blame. If it helps any, I didn’t realize that you were anything other than a sock puppet for almost a year.

  72. Jenos Idanian says:

    @Just ‘nutha ig’rant cracker: Well, if you weren’t offering sympathy, then you have my thanks. As I said, I don’t care for it.

    I always have in mind that the people on the other side of the screen are people. Some of them are noxiously stupid, some are noxiously partisan, some are noxiously arrogant, some are… hard to categorize, some are noxiously partisan, and some are just plain noxious.

    But still… people. People with whom I share many traits. An interest in politics, a common language, in most cases a common citizenship and heritage.

    What I find most baffling (and offensive) is something I’ve also noticed in President Obama: a greater hatred/contempt/intolerance/resentment/whatever towards fellow citizens than towards actual foreign enemies.

    The huge refugee crisis going on right now? Yeah, most of the victims are Muslims (although the actions against Middle Eastern Christians meets the definition of “genocide,” and that’s always part of the plan for the Jews), but the people carrying out the genocide and creating all these refugees are Muslims, too, and they’re following the words and deeds of Mohammed exceptionally accurately. If there was anywhere in the world that could stand to follow Obama’s suggestion that they stop “clinging to their guns and their religion,” it’d be there.

    But instead, the real enemies are the Teahadists, the American Taliban, their fellow citizens. They’re the biggest existential threat. And I, as one who’s usually lumped in with them, find it a trifle annoying. I’m pointing out the people who are killing innocents in huge numbers, including Americans, and my fellow citizens are saying that I’m as bad (or worse) than they are.

    Oh, and FYI, if you’re still following events in the aftermath of Orlando, the FBI has announced that 1) they have found no evidence that the shooter ever had a gay relationship, and 2) they have found no evidence of the whereabouts of the shooter’s wife/accomplice, who has managed to disappear like she was an email on Hillary’s server. (Which means she’ll probably turn up in another country any day now.)

    But the Justice Department assures us that they are prepared to take on any threat from a Christian baker or any homophobes who don’t make all bathrooms and locker rooms safe “for whomever or whatever wants in.” They’ve got their priorities straight, all right…

  73. Gustopher says:

    @Jenos Idanian:

    But instead, the real enemies are the Teahadists, the American Taliban, their fellow citizens. They’re the biggest existential threat.

    I lived in NYC when 9/11 happened. I watched towers fall, in person. I remember trying to contact friends and loved ones all day, waiting for word that they were ok. NYC changed after that, for the worse.

    But it didn’t change because a bunch of Islamic Fundamentalists flew some planes into buildings, 3,000 people, give or take, and a few ugly buildings being removed from the skyline wasn’t enough to change the city — not to diminish the losses of those who lost loved ones. It was definitely a bad thing, but ultimately, against a city of 8 million (12 million or so counting the area), it was a minor body blow.

    The change came from the reaction. Soldiers in the subways, bags searched, privacy lost across the board. And not just in NYC, but across the country. We went to war with Iraq for no good reason — somewhere between 400,000 and 1,000,000 people protested the pending war in NYC, estimates vary — and started this country down the path we are on today.

    The existential threat wasn’t the Taliban, or al Qaeda, or a bunch of Saudis on some airplanes, the existential threat was here, in this country, the entire time. The right wing, looking to sacrifice everything for security, able to dragged along by their noses, afraid of everything.

  74. Gavrilo says:

    @Gustopher:

    9/11 was a “minor body blow?” Wow! Smh.

  75. James Pearce says:

    @MBunge:

    On the other hand, it’s damn amusing to see people refer to themselves as the sane ones in politics when they are about to nominate someone for President who could be indicted for breaking federal laws, and they’ve known about that possibility for the better part of a year.

    Point taken, but it’s going to be very hard for this hypothetical indictment to avoid being seen as political. Prosecutors are going to need a strong and compelling case to justify pursuing it. Do they have it?

    Watch for the investigation to conclude with recommendations, not indictments.

  76. Tyrell says:

    @JohnMcC: Henry Paulson endorsing Hillary – no surprise. He is establishment – financial all the way, a member of the CFR. He fits right in with the Clinton group.

  77. Gustopher says:

    @Gavrilo: Yes. It’s big enough that as a city, and even as a nation, that we felt it — but, ultimately, we are a very large, very strong nation. It wasn’t an existential threat to our nature. It was 10% of the people killed nationally in gun violence, or 10% of car deaths.

    And Orlando was a pinprick.

    Both were a great tragedy for those involved, but relatively minor for the country as a whole.

    We don’t have to be weak. We don’t have to react to every provocation by changing our core values — we have always been an open and free country, welcoming immigrants from across the world. We don’t have to react to every provocation by doing something stupid — we shouldn’t have attacked Iraq, at least until we were done with Afghanistan.

  78. Andrew says:

    Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!

    The Statue of Liberty (130 years old )-Ellis Island Foundation, Inc.

    Why do we not just go ahead and change the plaque on that ol’ French woman of ours?

  79. An Interested Party says:

    What I find most baffling (and offensive) is something I’ve also noticed in President Obama: a greater hatred/contempt/intolerance/resentment/whatever towards fellow citizens than towards actual foreign enemies.

    Exhibit A of why we have such a partisan divide in this country…despite all of George W. Bush’s faults, only an insane person would argue that he had a greater hatred/contempt/intolerance/resentment/whatever towards fellow citizens than towards actual foreign enemies…but yet we have the above disingenuous drivel presented against our current president and other citizens…

  80. John D'Geek says:

    @michael reynolds: Mostly agree with the first part. Must say, however, that this isn’t the first time we’ve “been here”. I’m going to suggest reading The Anatomy of Revolution (though I’m sure the book is better). We’re leaving the Dual Power phase, characterized by moderates and moderation, and entering the Reign of Terror and Virtue phase.

    FInal stop: Tyranny.

  81. Blue Galangal says:

    @Jenos Idanian:

    True dat. One side says that gun control laws don’t work, that the stricter the gun control laws are, the more violent crimes are reported, and say that maybe gun control doesn’t work.

    One side says that laws outlawing abortion don’t work, that the stricter the laws outlawing or restricting abortions are are, the more abortions are reported, and say that maybe laws outlawing abortion don’t work.