Rebirth of Reason

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Tuesday, October 20 - 10:13amSanction this postReply



“At the start of the year (i.e., pre-pandemic), we asked people to name the two most important issues facing the country. As expected, we found some clear partisan divides: For example, Republicans are more likely than Democrats to cite illegal immigration as an important issue.


“But on a number of other issues, we found that Americans fall much less neatly into partisan camps. For example, Democrats and Republicans who don’t follow politics closely believe that low hourly wages are one of the most important problems facing the country. But for hard partisans, the issue barely registers.


“Partisan Republicans were most likely to say drug abuse was the most important problem facing the country. But less-attentive Republicans ranked it second to last, and they were also concerned about the deficit and divisions between Democrats and Republicans.


“Among Democrats, the political junkies think the influence of wealthy donors and interest groups is an urgent problems. But less-attentive Democrats are 25 percentage points more likely to name moral decline as an important problem facing the country — a problem partisan Democrats never even mention.


“For partisans, politics is a morality play, a struggle of good versus evil. But most Americans just see two angry groups of people bickering over issues that may not always seem pressing or important.


“How can politics better match the opinions of a majority of Americans? The fact is, it’s not an easy problem to solve. We can try to give the hardened partisans less voice in the news. Featuring people who exemplify partisan conflict and extremist ideas elevates their presence in politics (though of course by definition, it is the partisans who are most closely watching the news who are also most likely to give their opinions). This is particularly true of social media: What a vocal minority shares on social media is not the opinion of the public.”

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Friday, October 23 - 2:45pmSanction this postReply

Thanks. I downloaded the original paper.


I predict that the partisans would claim that the 80% are sheep who are unaware of their oppression. (Sound familiar?)


In the True Believer, Eric Hoffer gave cogent reasons to explain hard partisans. Most people just want to live their own lives as best they can in the times they were born into.


(I had to google covfefe and Cuties.  I forgot all about the first and was totally unaware of the other. You see so much cultural wash go by over the years. After the (n+1)th school shooting, my daughter reminded me of when kids were expelled for wearing Bart Simpson t-shirts. More recently, talking about the future -- the future ain't what it used to be -- she asked me how I felt about the fact that when I was a kid, I expected to be living on the Moon by now, not worrying about whether the maple syrup bottle is racist.)


(Edited by Michael Marotta on 10/23, 3:04pm)

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