Thursday, August 15, 2013

Regressives are not the equal opposite of progressives

This is not a balance between two equal views; it is about moving forward in evolution versus moving backward. And it is also about health versus dysfunction. There was a time when some Republicans were healthy in their conservative views, and even some were somewhat progressive. But those days are long gone, with the vast majority of Republicans being both regressive and dysfunctional.

In that light see this article by Jonathan Weiler, "The myth of the Republican Moderate." It's mostly about the Governor of NC, Pat McCrory. See the article for the many specifics to support his argument. I'm concerning here with the broad and accurate generalizations, not false stereotypes, that he makes. For example:

"To a substantial degree, the idea gained traction because political media in general still cling to the preposterous belief that the parties are equidistant from some notional 'center' in American political life. But that premise -- symmetrical polarization -- is simply and flatly wrong.

From the first link:

"As Marc Hetherington and I argued in Authoritarianism and Polarization in American Politics, political conflict in the last two decades has come to be dominated by opposed worldviews, based on fundamentally different personality types. Individuals scoring high in authoritarianism have increasingly migrated to the Republican Party and now comprise a decisive part of the GOP's base, whereas the substantial number of Republicans who were low authoriarians twenty years ago have largely left the party. Those high authoritarians who now comprise the core of the GOP are intolerant of ambiguity and have a much greater need to see the world in black and white terms; are suspicious of out groups that they see as a threat to the social order, such as gays, immigrants, Muslims and so on; and are far more likely to process information selectively to conform to their worldview. These findings, which are powerfully supported in a wide range of studies, including ours, are consistent with broader findings about the contemporary right in America. For example, polls show that those on the right express far less willingness to compromise than do moderates and liberals. And as Chris Mooney has been writing about for years, Republicans have engaged in a wide-ranging war on science consistent with American conservatives' growing rejection of and antipathy to widely accepted facts, scientific and otherwise. This is reflected in the construction on the right of an entire alternative information universe, one in which facts are repeatedly distorted and conspiracy theories repeatedly trumpeted. In sum, the GOP base today is 1) now dominated by folks who are intolerant of many different kinds of out groups 2) unalterably hostile to science and 3) contemptuous of compromise."

From the second link:

"What is much, much less well-understood is that the process of polarization is not symmetrical. The parties have not become equally ideologically homogenous or moved equally far toward their extremes. They do not behave in the same way or share the same attitude toward established social and political norms. Republicans have moved farther right than Democrats have left. This is not just Some Blogger’s Opinion. Political scientists Keith Poole and Howard Rosenthal have done fascinating work on political polarization in Congress using a measurement of partisanship over time called DW-NOMINATE scores. [...] Two things jump out. First, over the 32 years leading up to 2004, the mean Dem moved six points to the left and the mean Republican moved 22 points to the right. Much farther!

"Here’s the way I’d put it: Today, the national Democratic Party contains everything from the center-right to the far-left. Economically its proposals tend to be center to center-right. Socially, its proposals tend to be center to center-left. The national Republican Party, by contrast, has now been almost entirely absorbed by the far right. It rejects the basic social consensus among post-war democracies and seeks to return to a pre-New Deal form of governance. It is hostile to social and economic equality. It remains committed to fossil fuels and sprawl and opposed to all sustainable alternatives. And it has built an epistemological cocoon around itself within which loopy misinformation spreads unchecked. It has, in short, gone loony."

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