More of the Same

From what I can see politically, the hard-core Republicans who largely control the Republican Party are more and more worried about the increasingly liberal Democratic Party, and, as a result, are nominating more and more ultra-conservatives, looking for ultra-conservative judges, and doing their best to disenfranchise voters whose districts or ethnicities suggest they might be more liberal. These trends are the result of fears that the “white” and business-oriented culture will be marginalized, and even “socialized” if the Democrats gain power.

In turn, among the Democratic Party, there is a growing liberal groundswell, fueled by a growing hatred of ultra-conservative and discriminatory Republican policies and attitudes, and by a long and barely suppressed anger at Republican tactics they see as oppressive and discriminatory toward minorities and the poor, and benefitting only a tiny percentage of the American people, the richest one tenth of one percent. As a result, more moderate Democrat politicians are being defeated in primaries or being pushed out.

The result of these trends continuing can only be increasing polarization of the U.S. political system. For the first time in a century, and possibly much longer, according to the Pew Research Center, the number of Democrats and Republicans claiming to have a “very unfavorable” view of the other party have now reached nearly 60%, and 45 percent of Republicans say that Democratic policies threaten the nation, while 41 percent of Democrats think the same of Republican policies.

A Rasmussen poll claims that nearly half the population thinks that a civil war is likely in the years ahead.

Why?

I’d submit that the answer lies in the very human tendency to double-down on cherished beliefs when one is fearful or feels threatened. And right now, lots of Americans feel threatened because, due to rapid changes in technology and economics, we live in a very uncertain time. Less educated white males have seen their economic status and future possibilities dwindle. Minorities and ethnic groups chafe under what they perceive as continued economic and political discrimination, and that feeling is reinforced by Republican efforts to make it even harder for them to vote. The Me Too Movement has pointed out gross gender discrimination, especially by white males, as well as continued underpayment of women in the same positions as men. Industrial automation has cost the nation millions of higher-paid semi-skilled jobs, replacing them with high tech equipment operated by far fewer higher-skilled employees. More education is needed for almost every decent paying job, but the cost of that education has skyrocketed while middle and working class incomes have stagnated. Even the weather is getting more uncertain.

These are just the leading causes of uncertainty, and far from a comprehensive listing, but the political result is that people cling more desperately to core beliefs, even when doing so is only going to make matters worse. Higher technology and climate change aren’t going away. Neither is a global economy. Nor are the concerns of people who’ve been discriminated on account of race, color, creed, or gender. And doubling down on either “business is the only answer” or “more government is the only answer” or “less government is the only answer” or any number of simplistic slogans is only going to make matters worse.

But for all that, simplistic slogans and beliefs continue to prevail, trumpeted by no less than the President.

4 thoughts on “More of the Same”

  1. Tim says:

    In the UK the two main parties have both strengthened because there is clear political water between them whereas in recent years it was not that clear. BreXit has since muddied this a little as people may vote according to their BreXit view than along political lines, but the political divide is still clear.

    However, in the EU the established parties have lost considerable ground to new so-called populist parties (Greece, Germany and France). And that is where future unrest may lie if this growth continues.

    If the UK and US have one thing in common, it is essentially a two-party system and arguably this is a good model. At least history says it is.

    Your mid-term elections should prove interesting.

  2. R. Hamilton says:

    I don’t think for a minute that most of the Republicans have gotten more conservative, or that they’re interested in marginalizing anyone on the basis of race, geography, or anything else except being socialists, who are a danger to liberty.

    If anything, most Republicans in Congress are spineless, wishy-washy, and too much part of the machine to get on board with dismantling most of the excesses of government, both in terms of programs and regulations (some few of which are essential parts of the purpose of government, but most of which are not). Securing borders, blowing up enemies abroad (or remaining ready and able to, even if perhaps a bit more reluctant to actually do so), and enforcing a minimal set of laws: that’s really about all government should be doing. And I suppose the post office, since that’s in the Constitution, although IMO it should be amended to get rid of that pathetically inefficient operation. (Article I, Section 8 lists the functions for which Congress can fund programs and pass laws…and using the Commerce Clause and a few others to justify practically anything is just plain crazy. I don’t see any authority in there for Social Security, Medicare, ACA (“Obamacare”), etc. no matter what the Supreme Court has said on the subject.)

    Those who can’t hack the responsibility for their own upkeep and opportunities are invited to investigate the inevitable end of socialism seen in places like Venezuela; and if they riot, well, bullets are cheaper than welfare checks.

    1. Hannibal Crozier says:

      Uh huh.
      Quite (alt)right.

  3. Christopher Robin says:

    The impact of social media magnifies these issues. Yellow journalism has returned in a far more subtle and dangerous way.

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