We all like to think that we are objective in the way we view the world. I trumpet this all the time as I believe my political experience is unique, especially in this era of political polarization. It seems that neither of these statements are true.
This long-term study shows that most give “themselves credit for more fairness and less self-interest” than we should attribute to others. It also shows that while most politically-astute citizens believes we are more politically polarized than ever before, actual survey responses show that “There is more common ground than we realize.”
I am guilty on both counts.
I voted Republican and considered myself a conservative from 1998-2004 while working on the payroll of the state party from 2000-2002 (as an intern). I have to give myself an honest transition, but I voted Democrat and considered myself a progressive from 2005-2010, while working for the state party or the legislative caucus from 2006-2007 (temporary positions).
While I realize my core ideology is left-of-center, there are issues that square me firmly on the right. Furthermore, as the polarization study admits, “people who see the world split into two opposing factions are also most likely to vote and become politically active. This means that while real growing polarization is illusory, the perception of polarization could drive the political process.” At its core, this is what soured me on my experience in party politics, what made me jump parties so quickly, and ultimately forced me to finally transition from “dream career” to “expensive hobby.”
If you have read my political posts consistently, you will see me criticize progressive often — and not in the only way that progressives (or conservatives) criticize their own because they don’t fight hard enough — but on a variety of different grievances. My criticism of conservatives is just as diverse — or it would be if their arguments and strategies were not so vanilla. My continued attack is as simple as their rhetoric: They have a fundamental inability to understand the function of government and a gross representation of their comfort toward (and willingness or stubbornness to learn from or about) people and cultures different from their own.
Ironically, as a true progressive, I made that line so much more complicated than I needed. I channeled John Kerry from 2004. Moving on.
Because of this basic criticism of today’s conservatism, I was surprised by my reaction to an article based on a research study that basically hands progressives their stereotype of conservative ideology. And maybe that basically outlines my problem. It justifies a stereotype, even if it exists.
Research shows that blacks in urban schools dropout at a ridiculously high rate and ultimately have lower IQ scores. Would we let one of these “low-intelligence socially-conservative adults” chalk that up to their racism?
“Well, they are black. They don’t want to be educated. They would rather deal drugs.”
No, it is more complex. You cannot research this topic without controlling for parental involvement, without controlling for institutional bias, or controlling for poverty and nutrition, or early childhood development, or even expectations. There are so many factors and I didn’t even touch on overall funding, teacher recruitment and retention, and per-pupil spending. It is more complex. Usually, when you control for these factors, a gap still exists — but barely.
It is more complex.
This is where I cannot dismiss the article. It is also where my conflict becomes clear. My heart tells me this type of categorization is simply wrong — and what progressive are supposed to fight against. My head tells me that this is exactly the problem. It is the problem with the debt ceiling debate, the problem with the jobs debate, the problem with the tax debate, the poverty debate, the everything debate.
What problem do I speak of?
“There is reason to believe that strict right-wing ideology might appeal to those who have trouble grasping the complexity of the world.”
It is simply much easier to hate the government because they take 25% of your income, than understand the complexity of the system that returns a value well above your dollar, or a service that you cannot possibly provide yourself.
It is much easier to believe that the government is taking away freedom with everyone vote they take, than understand the complexity of a system that from the rural city council member up to the President, is essentially, you.
We live in a complex world. It gets more complex by the day. Rather than offer concrete policy resolution in a modern era, a conservative will just say no and take away. This is the simple answer — to criticize. To offer up answers, justify them with substantive research and analysis, and then stand by the result takes much more.
However, I still leave rubbed the wrong way. I am not surprised to see this type of research and as I read it, I started to argue with my computer screen, “Yes, these are the argument of an uneducated conservative. I see them all the time as graffiti on my Facebook wall. But, c’mon, progressives have their illogical generalizations that control their ideology. Hell, this is why I find myself playing conservative in discussions…and I have no idea how I got there!” They apparently realized the egregious error.
Researchers admit that these ‘simple viewpoints’ may not be owned by one ideology. They even offer up examples that could be the beginning of the next research model. But they would never conduct that study. They admit that, “every kid is a genius in his or her own way,” is another simple statement based in nothingness, which controls the ideology of extreme progressives.
I see some very ignorant views from progressives about rich people. I was telling a friend about a funny celebrity gaffe on TMZ, and he responded with, “So what, think about how much money they make?” Their income had nothing to do with the discussion, but it clouded the person’s ability to follow along with a funny story. This bias fuels the left and their vendetta against rich people.
On both accounts, it is sad. Income inequality is real and so is the epidemic of poverty in the richest country on Earth. Blaming Mitt Romney for the legal tax rate he pays shows the true hand of the progressives that are, for all intent and purposes, running the ideology. It could be the tax code. It could be the tax of incentives to reinvest. It could be a lot of things. I could promise you one thing: Capitalism, Entrepreneurship, and rich people are not the causes.
I want to give an example for conservatives, but I’m tired. Progressives need to learn that 40% of the country disagree with you. Conservatives need to learn that 40% of the country disagrees with hem. 20% of us sit on the sidelines.
Maybe it’s 45%-45%-10%.
Depends on what politico nerd you ask.
We all grow more cynical by the day, wishing that this wasn’t just a bad reality with no consequences. Instead, it’s a bad reality show with dire consequences.