The Pew polarization GIF you posted is fascinating. Taken alone, it would appear both sides share equal blame for the present political paralysis as each shifts to their ideological poles. But a chart from the same Pew study (highlighted by Chait) demonstrates that polarization does not necessarily equal an inability to compromise; and while both sides may be guilty of running to their respective corners, one is clearly more liable for putting the kibosh on negotiation deal-making.
I feel this chart is just as telling – if not, more so. Just look at that correlation: as one gets more liberal, the more he or she wants elected officials who compromise. It’s the statistical buttress to what we have seen these past few years, culminating this week with Cantor’s ouster: only the Republicans are carrying out a primary purification to fit their no-compromise dispositions. To me, polarization per se is not the current critical crisis – it’s a refusal to compromise, to reach out from one’s ideological end of the spectrum to meet in the middle (where most of us already are), and demanding that one’s representatives refuse to negotiate to get things done and better the country.
A point well-taken. A consistently liberal position is fine if you’re prepared to meet the other side halfway – and vice-versa of course. In fact, sometimes a strong position can help facilitate a real deal. And in this, it’s the GOP that is the outlier, and long has been. Another isn’t as concerned:
Sorry to say, but you’re suffering from PTSD associated with watching too much Fox News. Thanks to new media, people in general are far better informed than they were in the past when old media ruled. Ask yourself, could gay marriage and pot legalization have happened before new media?
The fact is, most people do not get their news from TV anymore, which is why CNN, MSNBC and Fox News have stopped trying to actually report news. Conservatives rely on talk radio and WSJ (the intellectuals) for their news, then maybe go to Fox to confirm what they already know. Liberals go to the NYT and informative blogs (like yours) and we tend to disdain MSNBC because we don’t like to be pandered to (which is why their ratings are much lower than Fox). About the only people who get their news from TV are what we would call “independents” but are actually low-interest citizen (and voters) who tend to dismiss all politics as hooey. And they jump around confused as to what to believe (unless there is a murder trial or missing plane).
If you must believe in a Cold Civil War, then know that progressive side is winning hands down.
I agree with your broader point regarding the culture war (although we may have a slight disagreement on who the aggressors might be), but your point on immigration is quite simply incorrect. It is simply false to say “That data simply refutes the notion that we are somehow living in an era of lawlessness and massive illegal immigration.” The truth behind the deportation numbers of the Obama administration is murky at best. When members of the administration, and even President Obama himself, admit that the numbers are deceptive (basically an accounting gimmick), I think even such a staunch Obamaite as yourself would make note of that.
Another is on the same page:
Sorry, but total removals of immigrants during the 4 years (2009 – 2012) of the Obama administration are down significantly. In fact if you add up the two columns in the chart below from the DHS, (Removals and Returns) you’ll note that you have to go back to 1973 to get a total number less than the 2012 statistic:
I don’t mean to enter into a “Civil Cold War” with you, but to me a deportation is the removal of a person from this country, whether through an order of deportation, or by the simple expedient of putting them on a truck at the border and sending them back to where they started. As usual, both sides are right/wrong telling incomplete truths about this (and every) topic. SIGH …
Another quotes me:
“It was like slipping into an alternative universe.” That describes how I felt reading your post. One of the things that made me to subscribe to and makes me read your blog everyday is your willingness to challenge whatever the “established narratives” being spun by politicians and abetted by the media. This time, however, I feel that you’ve bought to much into the “Fox News is evil narrative” and cherry-picked your facts to prove your points.
While I don’t like the heated rhetoric Fox uses to take advantage of people’s emotions, they still make some good points that the MSM ignores in order to preserve the president’s image. Is it not a problem that Iraq and Syria are becoming failed states in which terrorists can train and organize? Is it not a problem that illegal immigrants are flooding into the country at a faster clip in recent weeks and being sent off throughout our country that can barely afford to educate Americans and other kids that are here legally? Is the president allowed to ignore the laws he does not like (I seem to remember liberals not liking when Bush did that; I’d like the president to follow the laws regardless of his or her party).
In my opinion, Fox is right to call the president out for not being a strong leader BUT I’m not always a fan of the means they use to do it.
More commentary on our Facebook page. A common complaint:
MSNBC is not even remotely like Fox. They may have an obvious bias in favor of Democrats, but to claim that Hayes or Maddow engage in this kind of reality fabrication is ridiculous.
Another reader, from the in-tray, makes the same argument and goes on to elaborate on the Cold Civil War:
Liberals and conservatives are coming to rely on different worldviews motivated by different interpretations of what “reality” is. The Republican party has clearly decided that the only path open to them is to further embrace the resentment exhibited in rural, displaced white voters – people whose concerns have been unconscionably ignored but who have directed their anger at an entirely inappropriate target. They see Obama as the enemy but they vote for the people who are their real enemies.
If you think about it point by point, it becomes even less sensible. The debt? That was a result of Bush’s unfunded wars, irresponsible tax cuts and his corporatist Medicare expansion (which was itself just a subsidy for drug companies). The recession? A logical endpoint of a decades-long abandonment of responsible financial regulation. Immigration? There have been no significant changes to our immigration law since 1986, when Saint Reagan pushed through a bill that provided legal status to many who were undocumented – and the right conveniently proceeded to forget that. Ditto with gun control, since Reagan supported the Brady Bill publicly, and that clearly must be erased from the record.
The left, by contrast, did not throw Democrats out of office for supporting the Bush tax cuts. It did not throw Democrats out of office for opposing cap-and-trade legislation, immigration reform, or for stonewalling Obamacare until the very last minute when Scott Brown’s surprise election made inaction untenable. The left complained about these realities but never pretended that the reality was any different than what it was; we had the best we could get and that while Obama has let us down on specific issues, he has been a wholly underappreciated president – and history will very likely vindicate him. I don’t know if enough people realize that yet, but if Bush can recover to a 40%+ approval rating then Obama might just be remembered fondly.
I have many friends who are Republicans and they have similarly become militarized about specific issues. It never ceases to amaze me. I see increasingly absolutist statements about gun rights, impeachment and taxes from my right-wing friends and it genuinely scares me.
(The stat in the above tweet is backed up by this link)