Digby's Hullabaloo
2801 Ocean Park Blvd.
Box 157
Santa Monica, Ca 90405

Facebook: Digby Parton

@BloggersRUs (Tom Sullivan)

thedigbyblog at gmail
satniteflix at gmail
publius.gaius at gmail
tpostsully at gmail
Spockosbrain at gmail
Richardein at me.com


Mother Jones
Raw Story
Huffington Post
Crooks and Liars
American Prospect
New Republic

Denofcinema.com: Saturday Night at the Movies by Dennis Hartley review archive

January 2003 February 2003 March 2003 April 2003 May 2003 June 2003 July 2003 August 2003 September 2003 October 2003 November 2003 December 2003 January 2004 February 2004 March 2004 April 2004 May 2004 June 2004 July 2004 August 2004 September 2004 October 2004 November 2004 December 2004 January 2005 February 2005 March 2005 April 2005 May 2005 June 2005 July 2005 August 2005 September 2005 October 2005 November 2005 December 2005 January 2006 February 2006 March 2006 April 2006 May 2006 June 2006 July 2006 August 2006 September 2006 October 2006 November 2006 December 2006 January 2007 February 2007 March 2007 April 2007 May 2007 June 2007 July 2007 August 2007 September 2007 October 2007 November 2007 December 2007 January 2008 February 2008 March 2008 April 2008 May 2008 June 2008 July 2008 August 2008 September 2008 October 2008 November 2008 December 2008 January 2009 February 2009 March 2009 April 2009 May 2009 June 2009 July 2009 August 2009 September 2009 October 2009 November 2009 December 2009 January 2010 February 2010 March 2010 April 2010 May 2010 June 2010 July 2010 August 2010 September 2010 October 2010 November 2010 December 2010 January 2011 February 2011 March 2011 April 2011 May 2011 June 2011 July 2011 August 2011 September 2011 October 2011 November 2011 December 2011 January 2012 February 2012 March 2012 April 2012 May 2012 June 2012 July 2012 August 2012 September 2012 October 2012 November 2012 December 2012 January 2013 February 2013 March 2013 April 2013 May 2013 June 2013 July 2013 August 2013 September 2013 October 2013 November 2013 December 2013 January 2014 February 2014 March 2014 April 2014 May 2014 June 2014 July 2014 August 2014 September 2014 October 2014 November 2014 December 2014 January 2015 February 2015 March 2015 April 2015 May 2015 June 2015 July 2015 August 2015 September 2015 October 2015 November 2015 December 2015 January 2016 February 2016 March 2016 April 2016 May 2016 June 2016 July 2016 August 2016 September 2016 October 2016 November 2016 December 2016 January 2017 February 2017 March 2017 April 2017 May 2017 June 2017 July 2017 August 2017 September 2017 October 2017 November 2017 December 2017 January 2018 February 2018 March 2018 April 2018 May 2018 June 2018 July 2018 August 2018 September 2018 October 2018 November 2018 December 2018 January 2019


This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?


Friday, October 06, 2017

We are two countries

by digby

I wrote about the latest study on partisan polarization for Salon this morning:

The last five days of horrified shock in the wake of the carnage in Las Vegas last Sunday night have revived the debate over gun safety in this country -- at least for a few days, until our attention turns elsewhere. Right now it appears there is some willingness to talk about regulating the "bump stock" device that allowed the shooter to make his semiautomatic weapons fire as fast as a machine gun, which is a modest concession. The NRA stepped up to the plate to suggest that their good friends at the Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives write up some new rules. So who knows, maybe it will actually happen.

I wouldn't hold my breath. If there's one issue that always exposes the deep divide in his country, it's guns. In fact, it may be the most polarizing issue of all. According to the New York Times' Upshot, Americans may be "deeply split along demographic lines, but there aren’t many demographic characteristics that embody America’s cultural divide better than gun ownership." Polling by Survey Monkey after the election found that:

Over all, gun-owning households (roughly a third in America) backed Mr. Trump by 63 percent to 31 percent, while households without guns backed Mrs. Clinton, 65 percent to 30 percent. ... No other demographic characteristic created such a consistent geographic split.

After every massacre that isn't perpetrated by a Muslim (in which our attention is always focused on the motive, not the act itself) we go through this ritual of pretending as if the latest bloodletting will somehow bridge this cultural chasm. It never does. The gun divide represents deeper divisions that are only getting worse.

The Pew Poll released a new study this week on partisanship and values that suggests the gap between Democrats and Republicans is only getting wider on issues of race, immigration, the role of government and even things as basic as how and where we choose to live. Both parties are developing an acute hostility toward the other and are becoming more ideologically consistent.

The poll first started asking 10 specific questions about political values 23 years ago and at the time there was a 15 point difference between the two parties. In 2014 it was 33 points. Today it's up to 36. But it's in the specifics that the survey data is most revealing.

For instance, people were asked to choose which sentence they agreed with more: “The government should do more to help needy Americans, even if it means going deeper into debt,” or “The government today can’t afford to do much more to help the needy.” From the beginning, Democrats have always been more likely to choose the first sentence, but both parties have generally moved together depending on economic circumstances.

In 2007, 77 percent of Democrats and 45 percent of Republicans believed the needy should be helped. In 2011, as the economy was still pulling out of the Great recession, those numbers had fallen to 54 percent of Democrats and 25 percent of Republicans. It was roughly the same divide. But something's changed in the last few years. In 2017, 71 percent of Democrats think government should help the needy, but Republicans haven't budged. Even with the improving economy only 24 percent of GOP think the government should do more.

In other words, 23 years ago the gap between the two parties on this issue was 21 points. It's now 47 points.

This shift is nearly as stark on the question of race. In the current survey, 41 percent say that racial discrimination is the reason African Americans have a hard time getting ahead, while 49 percent say they are personally responsible if they cannot advance. That 41 percent is the highest number recorded in the survey's history, and that shift is entirely because Democrats views have changed dramatically.

In 1994 when that questions was first asked, the survey found that 39 percent of Democrats believed that racial discrimination was a determinant, while only 24 percent of Republicans agreed. Today that gap has grown from 15 points to 50: About 64 percent of Democrats say discrimination is a primary factor, while just 14 percent of Republicans agree.

The two parties have always differed on economics but today the Democrats are much more aligned, with 82 percent agreeing that our economic system unfairly benefits powerful interests. Among Republicans, 50 percent say the system is fair to most Americans while 46 percent disagree. Seventy-seven percent of Republicans believe that people can get ahead if they work hard, while 49 percent of Democrats agree. Interestingly, college-educated white Democrats are even less likely than African-Americans and Hispanics to believe hard work is no guarantee of success.

The divide between the parties has grown wider over time but it's accelerated recently -- and that's largely because Democrats are becoming more liberal. (I'm tempted to say that it would be impossible for Republicans to get any more conservative, but that's clearly not true.) The survey doesn't address the question of why that's happening, but I'd guess some of it has to do with the age demographics of the two parties. The millennial generation is much more likely to be Democratic and also much more liberal. Republicans are aging and getting more conservative.

But mostly I think it's that conservatives and liberals have finalized the realignment that began back in the 1960s, when the civil rights movement and the GOP's cynical "Southern strategy" changed the two parties' centers of gravity. Both parties are now more ideologically and culturally homogeneous than they've ever been in the modern era.

Whatever the reasons for this deepening ideological division, it will make this political period exceptionally difficult. The American system has a bad track record in dealing with intense polarization, as a look back at the decades before the Civil War will tell you. Many of the fundamental issues that animate the divide today are similar to those that splintered the nation back in the 1850s. Indeed, they have never been fully settled, and one symptom of that is the election of the most openly racist president in a century.

The good news is that there are more Democrats and Democratic leaners than there are Republicans, and they are moving in a more liberal direction. The bad news is that most of them live in metropolitan areas and the most populous states, and our electoral system was constructed to favor rural areas and small states, which are now the geographic centers of the most reactionary elements of the Republican base -- including gun culture. American politics are going to be turbulent for some time to come.