Division

In a blog post I recently read the author made the claim that, “Division these days is not over race or religion, but over political identification.”  To support his contention he cited a recent Pew poll, which showed that on on the question of which issues should be considered “top priorities” there are huge gaps between those who call themselves Democrats and those who call themselves Republicans.  At the top of the list was protection of the environment.  65% of Democrats consider it a top priority but only 28% of Republicans do–a gap of 37%.

Protection of the environment wasn’t the only issue on which there is such disagreement.  The poll revealed these gaps:

  • Protecting the environment: 37% difference
  • Helping the poor: 32% difference
  • Reducing the budget deficit: 31% difference
  • Addressing global warming: 28% difference
  • Strengthening the military: 25% difference
  • Improving education: 25% difference

I wonder how much of this is driven by the constant barrage of partisan spin that comes with 24-7 news channels, talk radio, social media and blogging.

But I also wonder if the “division” might not be as deep as it seems.  My guess is that most Americans aren’t locked into loyalty to a political party and maybe this poll only represents the opinions of those who are.  My guess is that that most Americans favor both protecting the environment and reducing the budget deficit, for example.

When I first began blogging I often posted about political issues. Eventually I stopped doing that. There are plenty of places to go on the internet for political arguments or to have one’s biases reinforced.  So I try to steer clear of the hot buttons, unless directly related to agriculture. Admittedly I sometimes backslide. If I ever step on any political toes, it isn’t my intent. The last thing we need is more of that.

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8 comments on “Division

  1. Jeff says:

    I think the blogger was right – it is over political identification. It’s come down to an issue of tribalism – whether you’re a Democrat or a Republican. It doesn’t matter what the Democratic or the Republican Party stands for, it only matters which “tribe” you belong to. I solved the problem a few years ago: a pox on both of them. When people ask me whether I’m a Democrat or a Republican, I reply, “neither, I’m an American.” That really confuses them – they have no means of engaging me in an argument because there really isn’t any difference between the Democratic Party and the Republican Party – they’re both water carriers for corporate America.

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    • Bill says:

      Tribalism is a good way of thinking about it. That’s well put. My wife and I joke that for many people it seems no different than loyalty to a sports team. As long as my team is for it, so am I. If the other team is for it, then I’m against it. So we get almost silly changes of position, depending upon which team is currently in command. Thus the anti-war movement went nearly silent once the Blue Team was in command. And all of a sudden the things the Red team did with gusto when they were in command are condemned by them with equal gusto when the Blue Team is now doing them. It’s like something out of 1984.

      One particularly strange manifestation of it is the discussion of global warming. I’ve blogged before about how there was no political division on the global warming issue until Al Gore made a movie about it (starring himself), thus generating a knee-jerk backlash from his political opponents (after all, if he is for it, then they have to be against it). All of a sudden global warming wasn’t a scientific fact any more. Instead, it was a political opinion. Just last night a friend of mine put some taunting post about global warming on facebook ridiculing his “right wing friends” and identifying global warming as “my left wing (enlightened) position.” Good grief. So global warming is part of a package of “left wing” beliefs? Is it any wonder then that those who don’t consider themselves “left wing” push back? Even though the science is settled, the general public sees it as a political opinion upon which people can disagree, depending on whether they prefer Al Gore or Glenn Beck. Another example would be the revelations about spying and invasion of privacy. Most on the blue team have nothing to say about it, yet they’d be howling in protest if it was happening with a Red Team administration. Most of the Red Team who are now shocked to find gambling occurring in Rick’s American Cafe would be insisting it’s for our own good if their team was doing it. There are many more examples–the list goes on and on.

      I reject them both too. I don’t see how anyone who values consistent principles could stand to be associated with them.

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  2. nebraskadave says:

    Bill, I am registered Republican but am pretty much an independent thinker. I make my own decisions about issues and don’t really follow hard political lines. I’m very disappointed in both sides right now. What I’d like to know is when our leaders stopped being statesmen and became politicians. The really sad part about the whole system is that it seems to be all about getting elected and billions of dollars are spend toward that end. It has become a rich man’s pursuit in most cases. It doesn’t seem to be about getting much done after being elected. I don’t usually talk much about politics or religion unless the subject is brought up for discussion and not for a heated argument.

    I have to agree that our country has become very divided over issues that have become political. The global warming issue, whether it’s true or not, should not be addressed by politics. In my humble opinion, politics should never have gotten involved in morality issues. The Federal government was originally set up to defend the country and to deal with foreign policy. How far has it strayed from that? I’m not sure where we are headed but I believe we are in for some troubled times.

    Have a great Virginia garden day.

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    • Bill says:

      Thanks Dave. Political opinions can get very heated and it seems that we’re deeply divided these days. My conclusion is that most of the division is rhetorical, and that the politicians themselves aren’t nearly as different as their rhetoric would cause us to think.

      I try to steer clear of it. It’s almost impossible to discuss a political issue it seems without getting someone mad at you (or ending up mad yourself). Facebook political postings have shown me sides of people that I didn’t know they had–usually not good.

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  3. Bill, here in Canada similar assumptions are made by the media too. I think that’s why they were so surprised at how our last election turned out. There are a lot of people who do not fit into the stereotypes that many say we do. I remember wondering how many silent supporters there were out there like myself who see truth on both sides but choose the lesser of the two evils.

    Blessings ~ Wendy ❀

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    • Bill says:

      Me too. But I’ve given up on choosing lesser evils, since I’m tired of choosing evil. The danger of that attitude, I guess, is that it can lead to apathy.

      I keep hoping our political discourse will improve, but it just seems to keep getting uglier.

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  4. I just watched “Patriocracy” on Netflix–about the divide, how and why and what could be done. I highly recommend it. I usually lurk and enjoy but I just had to share!

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