Political polarization

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Political polarization  edit   (Category  edit)



http://www.eagleforum.org/educate/2007/dec07/study.html. Retrieved on 2007-05-11 11:18.

Jonathan Zimmerman of New York University said that many professors reacted against the rise of the new right in the 1980s and 90s, and adopted an aggressive stance against the average conservative American. "The story we need to tell is about the alienation of professors from the public," he said.

What is it?

Polarization (politics) - Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Polarization_(politics)). Retrieved on 2007-05-11 11:18.

In politics, polarization is the process by which the public opinion divides and goes to the extremes. It can also refer to when the extreme factions of a political party gain dominance in a party.

Does it exist today?

Polarization (politics) - Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Polarization_(politics)). Retrieved on 2007-05-11 11:18.

[...] Most Americans and most in the news media see a very real rift growing within the fabric of U.S. society, as was shown most dramatically through the 2000 and 2004 Presidential elections, when the vote was virtually half and half between the two sides. However, it may be argued that those election results merely confirm that both major parties are essentially equivalent and as such attract a nearly equal number of votes.

Polarization Across Party Lines, or Politics as Contact Sport (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/03/29/AR2006032901882.html). Retrieved on 2007-05-11 11:18.

Still, there can be no denying the increased vitriol that accompanies party politics at the mass level. There is a wealth of time series data tracking Americans' evaluations of the incumbent president. These data show that on balance, Democrats' and Republicans' evaluations of a president of the other party have steadily soured. UCSD political scientist Gary Jacobson's analysis of these data document a widening chasm between Republicans and Democrats, with the percentage of partisans who have moved to the extremes ("strong approval" or "strong disapproval") increasing significantly over time. In fact, polarized assessments of presidential performance are higher today than at any other time in recent history, including the months preceding the resignation of President Nixon.

http://news.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=08/03/31/0918216&from=rss. Retrieved on 2007-05-11 11:18.

I don't see a whole lot of Democrats calling [...], Air America, Huffington Post, Daily Kos and so one what they truly are

[...] I'd really love to hear why MoveOn/Daily Kos are anything besides left-leaning blogs that have their fair share of counterparts on the right? And Air America? Is Air America even still relevant? And why mention all of those things but not Fox News, Drudge, Limbaugh, etc, etc? Is the left-leaning elements of the media/blogosphere somehow doing more damage to meaningful dialog than the right-leaning media/blogosphere? Both share the blame for inflaming passions and reducing politics to a shouting match of soundbites.

I see Obama's preacher of 20 years saying that the US brought on 9-11 itself

And I see Jerry Falwell blame 9-11 on lesbians, abortionists, the ACLU and secularists.

Why does it exist? / What causes it?


I'm not the only one who notices / dislikes it

Martin Frost (October 17, 2005). FOXNews.com - The Politics of Polarization - Blog (http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,172518,00.html). Retrieved on 2007-05-11 11:18.

“In 2004, the electorate was 21 percent liberal, 34 percent conservative and 45 percent moderate,” according to the report. [...] ... If the numbers have remained stationary for the past 30 years, why have Republicans won more elections than Democrats? According to the authors, one of the main reasons is polarization. Democrats used to get the votes of a significant number of conservatives (30 percent in the 1976 presidential election). Today, the electorate is much more polarized with liberals voting Democratic and conservatives voting Republican. Since there are more self-described conservatives than liberals, this means that for a Democrat to win, he or she must win a larger share of the moderate vote (in excess of 60 percent according to the authors) than in the past. ... On the social issues, the authors recommend that Democrats “show tolerance and common sense on hot-button social issues." Specifically, they suggest that Democrats “could continue to support the core of Roe v. Wade while dropping their intransigence on questions such as parental notification and partial birth abortion. They could oppose court-imposed gay marriage while favoring decent legal treatment for gay couples and insisting that this is a matter for the people of the several states -- not the U.S. Constitution or the judiciary -- to resolve.” Third, they recommend that Democrats adopt a more free trade position (“an economic policy that embraces global competition”) while at the same time providing a social safety net for people who lose their jobs in the process. That, of course, is the single most controversial of their recommendations because it goes contrary to the position of organized labor, a key part of the Democratic base. ...

? (1995 or 1996?). Politics: Polarization in the Political System (http://www.cyberessays.com/Politics/18.htm). Retrieved on 2007-05-11 11:18.

Why do politicians find it almost congenitally impossible to cooperate? What is it about politics and power that seem to always put them at odds with good government? Indeed, is an effective, well-run government even possible given the current adversarial relationship between our two main political parties? It would seem that the exercise of power for its own sake, and a competitive situation in which one side must always oppose the other on any issue, is incompatible with the cooperation and compromise necessary for the government to function. As the United States becomes more extreme in its beliefs in general, group polarization and competition, which requires a mutual exclusivity of goal attainment, will lead to more "showdown" situations in which the goal of good government gives way to political posturing and power-mongering. In this paper I will analyze recent political behavior in terms of two factors: Group behavior with an emphasis on polarization, and competition. However, one should keep in mind that these two factors are interrelated. Group polarization tends to exacerbate inter-group competition by driving any two groups who initially disagree farther apart in their respective views. In turn, a competitive situation in which one side must lose in order for the other to win (and political situations are nearly always competitive), will codify the differences between groups - leading to further extremism by those seeking power within the group - and thus, to further group polarization. In the above example, the two main combatants, Bill Clinton and Newt Gingrich, were virtually forced to take uncompromising, disparate views because of the very nature of authority within their respective political groups. Group polarization refers to the tendency of groups to gravitate to the extreme of whatever opinion the group shares (Baron & Graziano, 1991, p.498-99). Therefore, if the extreme is seen as a desirable characteristic, individuals who exhibit extreme beliefs will gain authority through referent power. In other words, they will have characteristics that other group members admire and seek to emulate (p. 434). Unfortunately, this circle of polarization and authority can lead to a bizarre form of "one-upsmanship" in which each group member seeks to gain power and approval by being more extreme than the others. The end result is extremism in the pursuit of authority without any regard to the practicality or "reasonableness" of the beliefs in question. Since the direction of polarization is currently in opposite directions in our two party system, it is almost impossible to find a common ground between them. In addition, the competitive nature of the two-party system many times eliminates even the possibility of compromise since failure usually leads to a devastating loss of power. If both victory and extremism are necessary to retain power within the group, and if, as Alfie Kohn (1986) stated in his book No Contest: The Case Against Competition, competition is "mutually exclusive goal attainment" (one side must lose in order for the other to win), then compromise and cooperation are impossible (p. 136). This is especially so if the opponents are dedicated to retaining power "at all costs." That power is an end in itself is made clear by the recent shutdown of the government. It served no logical purpose. Beyond costing a lot of money, it had no discernible effect except as a power struggle between two political heavyweights. According to David Kipnis (1976, cited in Baron & Graziano, 1991), one of the negative effects of power is, in fact, the tendency to regard it as its own end, and to ignore the possibility of disastrous results from the reckless use of power (p. 433). Therefore, it would seem that (at least in this case) government policy is created and implemented, not with regard to its effectiveness as government policy, but only with regard to its value as a tool for accumulating and maintaining power. Another of Kipnis's negative effects of power is the tendency to use it for selfish purposes (p.433). In politics this can be seen as the predilection towards making statements for short term political gain that are either nonsensical or contradictory to past positions held by the candidates themselves. While this may not be the use of actual power, it is an attempt to gain political office (and therefore power) without regard for the real worth or implications of a policy for "good" government. ... Polarization is also apparent in this example. Since Pete Wilson showed no inherent loyalty toward a particular ideology, it is entirely likely that had the Republican party been drifting towards a centrist position rather than an extreme right-wing position, Wilson would have accordingly been more moderate in his political pronouncements. The polarization towards an extreme is what caused him to make such radical changes in his beliefs. It is, of course, difficult to tell to what extent political intransigence is a conscious strategy, or an unconscious motivation toward power, but the end result is the same - political leadership that is not conducive (or even relevant) to good government. The role of competition in our political system is an inherently contradictory one. We accept the fact that politicians must compete ruthlessly to gain office using whatever tactics are necessary to win. We then, somehow, expect them to completely change their behavior once they are elected. At that point we expect cooperation, compromise, and a statesmanlike attitude. Alfie Kohn (1986) points out that this expectation is entirely unrealistic (p. 135). He also states that, "Depriving adversaries of personalities, of faces, of their subjectivity, is a strategy we automatically adopt in order to win" (p.139). In other words, the very nature of competition requires that we treat people as hostile objects rather than as human beings. It is, therefore, unlikely, once an election is over and the process of government is supposed to begin, that politicians will be able to "forgive and forget" in order to carry on with the business at hand. ... [...] We never seem to realize that, most of the time, politicians are merely giving us what they think we want. If they are weak and dominated by polls, aren't they really trying to find out "the will of the people" in order to comply with it? If they are extremist and uncompromising in their political stances, aren't they simply reflecting the extremism prevalent in our country today? If politicians compromise, we call them weak, and if they don't we call them extremist. If we are unhappy with our government, perhaps it is because we expect the people who run it to do the impossible. They must reflect the will of a large, disparate electorate, and yet be 100 percent consistent in their ideology. However, if we look at political behavior in terms of our own polarized, partisan attitudes, and if we can find a way to either reduce the competitive nature of campaigns, or reconcile pre-election hostility with post-election statesmanship, then we may find a way to elect politicians on the basis of how they will govern rather than how they run. It may be tempting to dismiss all this as merely "the way politics is" or say that "competition is human nature", or perhaps think that these behaviors are essentially harmless. But consider these two examples. It has been speculated that President Lyndon B. Johnson was unwilling to get out of the Vietnam war because he didn't want to be remembered as the first American President to lose a war. If this is true, it means that thousands of people, both American and Vietnamese, died in order to protect one man's status. In Oklahoma City, a federal building was bombed in 1994, killing hundreds of men, women, and children. The alleged perpetrators were a group of extreme, right wing, "constitutionalists" who were apparently trying to turn frustration with the federal government into open revolution. I do not think these examples are aberrations or flukes, but are, instead, indicative of structural defects in our political system. If we are not aware of the dangers of extremism and competition, we may, in the end, be destroyed by them.

Michael Barone (8/28/05). Michael Barone: An end to political polarization? - US News and World Report (http://www.usnews.com/usnews/opinion/articles/050905/5barone.htm). Retrieved on 2007-05-11 11:18.

For 10 years American politics has been sharply polarized, with just about equal numbers of Republicans and Democrats arrayed angrily against one another. We have come to think of this as a permanent condition.

Amazon.com: Customer Discussions: A Day In The Life Of A Liberal (http://www.amazon.com/Day-The-Life-Of-Liberal/forum/Fx3EW9DMFNNHJCW/Tx367NIQC5DW5MP/1/ref=cm_cd_ef_tft_tp?%5Fencoding=UTF8&cdItems=25&cdAnchor=0446580503&asin=0446580503). Retrieved on 2007-05-11 11:18.

Cory M. Warren,Oct 21, 2007 11:52 PM PDT

This is why you fail. You are making generalizations that oddly enough don't account for 99% of liberals in America. Throughout America are a wide variety of view points on many different topics. there is not a liberal viewpoint and a conservative viewpoint because even within political movements there are a wide variety of views from their own people. The moment we return America to a democracy other than what people like Ann Coulter and Michael Moore portray it as, as a "you share my opinion or get out" the better.

[Political bias (category)]

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 23, 2007 8:41 PM PST M. Toffolo says: O God please tell me this was sarcasm. If not, well, woe to me, that was an ignorant piece of um, lets say doo-doo? This is noting but the blabber and the biased ideals of such personalities as Limbaugh, O'Reilly, Hannity, And Coulter. Not only does this fail to perceive liberal ideas but merely is a drool of negative stereotypes strung together in order to create an unfair opinion of a certain political affiliation. Not all liberals are atheists, hate God, hate Christians, etc. [...] This merely speaks volumes about what our once proud country has become, a mere festival of hatred between seemingly two warring countries who just happen to live together and fight this fight every four years. Where sides are taken not based on morals or what is best for the nation and its people but political affiliations and worn (and wrong) assumptions and stereotypes toward the other side.

Why I hate it

Worn (and wrong) assumptions and stereotypes toward the other side

Ignorance! (Well-ingrained, entrenched hard-to-dispel ignorance, I might add.) That's what stereotypes and negative assumptions taken from 3rd-hand, biased sources on "the other side" inevitably lead to.

Cooperation on important issues difficult

People need to compromise, work together, be bipartisan, not polarize.

Moderate voices have less influence

Polarization (politics) - Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Polarization_(politics)). Retrieved on 2007-05-11 11:18.

[...] Moderate voices often find that they have lost power.

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