Author Topic: Is Our Partisanship a Threat to Our Democracy?  (Read 285 times)

Wayward Son

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Is Our Partisanship a Threat to Our Democracy?
« on: August 05, 2020, 06:32:01 PM »
FiveThirtyEight has a frightening essay on how fragile our democracy is.

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She, and other experts, consider our current time period one in which authoritarianism poses a serious risk — but not because of what is happening with the DHS in Portland. Instead, it’s more likely that recent events are a symptom of something bigger, a risk that has steadily grown in the last several decades. Instead, they point to the political polarization evident in public opinion on Portland as indicative of the danger we’re in.

When it comes to Portland, specifically, the partisan divide is definitely real. In a survey fielded by Data for Progress on July 28, respondents were split about Trump’s decision to send DHS to Oregon, with 42 percent calling the deployment of federal police “essential” and 45 percent calling it an “overstep.” And that split was highly partisan. Broken down by party affiliation, nearly three-quarters of Republicans favored the decision while a similar proportion of Democrats opposed it...

That, by itself, isn’t much of a shock. We are, for better or for worse, used to all sorts of issues dividing public opinion. The terrifying thing is the way it links partisan politics and authoritarianism. According to a recent report by the Democracy Fund’s Voter Study Group, support for democracy is in no way universal. In fact, their findings show that 1 in 3 Americans have, at some point in the last three years, supported some kind of authoritarian view, and only about 20 percent said it was very important to live in a democracy.

And separate polling, commissioned by Mazumder before Portland, from YouGov Blue, an arm of YouGov that primarily serves Democratic and progressive clients, underscores this as well. Although it found that Republicans were less supportive overall of democracy — 1 out of 4 Republicans said that democracy is a “very bad” or “fairly bad” way to govern the country compared to just four percent of Democrats. There was also more support for a strong leader, defined in the survey as someone “who does not have to bother with Congress and elections” among Republicans. But it wasn’t just Republicans driving these anti-democratic views. A significant percentage of Democrats said they preferred to have “experts, not the government” make decisions on what they think is best for the country...

Since 1994, Pew Research Center has asked Americans about the amount of partisan animosity they held. In that time, the percentage of people who rate the opposing party as “very unfavorable” has climbed from about 20 percent to more than 50 percent. In fact, as of 2016, more than 40 percent of both Republicans and Democrats said they saw the other side as a threat to the nation.

That poses a real threat to our democracy, too. “If we view that if one party gets into power they’ll be a threat to my way of life or the nation as a whole, we’ll do whatever we can to keep them out or keep ourselves in,” said Jennifer McCoy, a professor of political science at Georgia State University. That, she added, is when people start to tolerate the violation of democratic norms. “The goal is to stay in power or get in power and it overrides the value of respecting democratic principles,” she said...

Looking at situations in American history and around the world, McCoy, Mettler and other experts have found that extreme polarization is one major red flag that shows a democracy is in trouble. That’s because people will condone all kinds of violence in the name of protecting themselves, said Christian Davenport, professor of political science at the University of Michigan. Violations of norms — even the law — become justifiable depending on who is doing the rule-breaking and who is being targeted.

Through that lens, it makes perfect sense why Americans are politically divided on Portland: It’s actually a divide over whether you see the protesters as a threat. And that should make us all very uncomfortable — no matter which side of the aisle we’re on. Because evidence points to the fact that many Americans, regardless of their party affiliation, are willing to condone violence and repression against their political opponents.

Back in March, McCoy and other researchers surveyed nearly 3,000 Americans about their support for various anti-democratic policies under different scenarios where one party, or the other, was in power. The results from this survey have not yet been published, but their preliminary analysis finds significantly higher support for such policies as prosecuting journalists, banning protests and disqualifying political opponents from elections in situations when a respondent’s preferred party was in power — and hoping to stay there. The effect was larger among Republicans hoping to consolidate Republican power. But it existed for Democrats, as well. For instance, while 23.6 percent of Democrats and 22.7 percent of Republicans said the president should do what the people want, even if it goes against existing laws, when their party was out of power, those numbers jumped to 29.6 percent and 35.1 percent, respectively, when the rule of law became inconvenient to keeping the other side at bay.

Are we approaching a point where we will throw away our rights by denying them of our political opponents?  :o

yossarian22c

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Re: Is Our Partisanship a Threat to Our Democracy?
« Reply #1 on: August 05, 2020, 08:57:40 PM »
Are we approaching a point where we will throw away our rights by denying them of our political opponents?  :o

Potentially. This is something to worry about. Trump has turned this kind of crap up to 11 like everything else. Things have progressively gotten worse, partisanship wise, since the Iraq war went to crap.

Congress people don't live in Washington anymore. It keeps them closer to their districts but at a cost. Used to they would socialize, get to know each other, know each other's families. That level of personal interaction with people of opposing parties tends to moderate the rhetoric coming from leaders. As the level of civility has fallen among the political class it has been mirrored by the rank and file leading to a negative feedback loop where the grassroots and politicians become more extreme.

TheDeamon

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Re: Is Our Partisanship a Threat to Our Democracy?
« Reply #2 on: August 06, 2020, 01:41:22 AM »
Are we approaching a point where we will throw away our rights by denying them of our political opponents?  :o

We're beyond it in many respects.

Historians have previously claimed the Revolutionary War started with less than 30% of the population in support of independence. (but also with less than 30% in support of the crown)

The Civil War was also a case where you had less than 30% of (free) people in the Confederacy pushing for forming the Confederacy.

Creating a highly polarized population is playing with fire. And we're checking off basically all of the check boxes for what triggered both the American Revolution, the Civil War, and some would say the French Revolution as well(although that didn't happen here).

Fasten your seat belts, it's going to be a wild ride for the next year at least. If we avoid open warfare (outside of Portland and a short list of other uber-Leftist enclaves) I'll be amazed.

TheDeamon

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Re: Is Our Partisanship a Threat to Our Democracy?
« Reply #3 on: August 06, 2020, 02:23:03 AM »
Speaking of partisanship, got a laugh out of this:
The (New York Times) YouTube video goes into detail on "the keys" and in the course of it, the good professor admits to being a Democrat and how hard it can be to keep partisanship out.

https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/elections/2020/08/05/professor-allan-lichtman-predicts-joe-biden-beat-donald-trump/3304680001/

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mp_Uuz9k7Os

Of his 13 keys, he scored 6 keys in favor of Trump, and 7 in favor of Biden. As such, he's called it for Biden.

But the problem is, in this cycle, things are a bit more ambiguous.

6 keys are clearly indicating Trump. But as for the other 7?
For the ones where Trump was scored as "false":
1) "Midterm gains" - Scored as false, as the Democrats gained seats, not the republicans, so clearly a pro-Biden marker.
2) "Strong Short Term economy" - He scored that as false, because of the economic disruption form Covid.
3) "Strong Long Term economy" - He scored that as false, because of the economic disruption from Covid.
4) "No Social Unrest" - Obviously that does support Biden.
5) "No scandal" - He scored this as false. But the "trump voters" on the other hand may disagree, particularly as it looks like what became the Mueller Investigation is looking to be poised to become ObamaGate in the eyes of most Trump voters, even if the dems disagree. Likewise for most Trump voters, the impeachment was only a scandal in regards to how the Democrats conducted themselves.
6) "Major foreign/Military success" - He scored this as false. "Trump voters" may disagree on that.
7) "Charismatic incumbent" - Scored as false. I'll give him a pass on his rationale, given Trump's difficulty even reaching 50% approval and retaining it. Of course, this could arguably be "split" as he also scored "true" for "uncharismatic opponent" in Trump's favor. A Charismatic candidate is likely to have a better "connection" with their base, and thus better turnout than an opponent who lacks any meaningful charisma...

So of those 7 markers that he said were false, I'll readily agree with 3 of them(1, 4, and 7).
ISIS/ISIL and the renegotiated NAFTA aside, I guess I'll grant #6, but there is an asterisk to attach to that one.
Given the Keystone cops routine the Administration has ongoing, I'll leave #5 as mostly valid.

That gets Biden to 5 keys to Trump's 6. Which puts things entirely in the context of the economy, and the economic circumstances as a result of Covid are just so outside of the norm that I don't think any real definitive predictions can be made. So I'm inclined to split the result, if only because polling in the past has indicated people think Trump would be better able to facilitate a recovery... But the wildcard in the mix is Covid need to reach a point where a recovery can begin to properly start. Something which Trump obviously isn't helping with, but then, nobody seems to have managed to pull off a safe and effective reopening as of yet, including China with their totalitarian controls in place. So it is hard to objectively hold Trump accountable for that. So my own scoring using his criteria ends up as a Trump 7, Biden 6 decision at this time. So it indicates a Trump win, not a Biden one.
« Last Edit: August 06, 2020, 02:29:08 AM by TheDeamon »

Fenring

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Re: Is Our Partisanship a Threat to Our Democracy?
« Reply #4 on: August 06, 2020, 10:59:52 AM »
Of course partisanship is a threat to democracy. In fact it is practically by definition anti-democratic. The focus of democracy is not actually in majority rule, which ethnically speaking is often the case in many countries (even dictatorships), but rather in respect for the minority and respect for the other side's arguments. The benefit of democracy - that each side can state their case and the loser will respect the governance of the winner - vanishes when neither side wants to hear the other side's case, and then the loser does not respect the governance of the winner. The current situation in the U.S. is closer to being a cold civil war than a democratic republic, if we're going by the mentality of the population.

wmLambert

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Re: Is Our Partisanship a Threat to Our Democracy?
« Reply #5 on: August 09, 2020, 12:20:49 PM »
Of course partisanship is a threat to democracy. In fact it is practically by definition anti-democratic. The focus of democracy is not actually in majority rule, which ethnically speaking is often the case in many countries (even dictatorships), but rather in respect for the minority and respect for the other side's arguments. The benefit of democracy - that each side can state their case and the loser will respect the governance of the winner - vanishes when neither side wants to hear the other side's case, and then the loser does not respect the governance of the winner. The current situation in the U.S. is closer to being a cold civil war than a democratic republic, if we're going by the mentality of the population.

Except we are not a democracy. Our Founders were clear on that and did call it mob rule. A Representative Constitutionally-limited Republic does not allow majority Gestapo tactics. The two-party system should be compared to the parliamentary system, where coalitions meld to form a majority government. The Democrat party has taken that approach, being a coalition party of non-aligned minority groups with single conflicting issues. Their object is not the issues, because each segment holds conflicting ideas, but fight for the power that may help their separate interests.

DonaldD

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Re: Is Our Partisanship a Threat to Our Democracy?
« Reply #6 on: August 09, 2020, 01:54:19 PM »
wmLambert, try to read for comprehension.  What do you think WS meant by "democracy"?  Do you think that the USA is not built on democratic principles? Do you not think the USA is counted among "Western Democracies?"

rightleft22

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Re: Is Our Partisanship a Threat to Our Democracy?
« Reply #7 on: August 10, 2020, 11:40:24 AM »
Partisan politics obstructs rational and critical thinking.

 “Research has shown parts of the brain tasked with processing critical thinking and reasoning, literally going dark to avoid the unpleasantness of discommoding political information.”
In his book, “The Political Brain,” Drew Westen describes how the brains of partisans “‘reason’ [their] way to the desired conclusions,” adopting faulty thinking in order to “turn off the spigot of unpleasant emotion.” What’s more, the brain actually goes out of its way to reward this biased and self-contradictory “reasoning,” content to curate pleasing, bias-conforming information.
 
Loyalty to a political party often trumps reason and logic:
•   Tendency to recognize that stereotypes aren’t accurate within our own group, but we’re still inclined to generalize about our adversaries
•   To remain loyal, we overly simplify issues instead of giving ample consideration to points from both sides
•   Tendency to justify and rationalize when it’s “our guy”
•   Failure to recognize that the labels don’t really fit the political parties
•   Reliance on party’s ‘reputation’ rather than impartially evaluating its actions

Interesting 20% of the population are consistently conservative or liberal yet dominate political landscape. It is the failure of critical thinking that distorts that reality into the "Us verses the Other" divisions.  Meaning that its likely that the majority of us play the role of the 'useful idiot' when it comes to politics.

DonaldD

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Re: Is Our Partisanship a Threat to Our Democracy?
« Reply #8 on: August 13, 2020, 08:53:30 AM »
I'm not sure whether this belongs here, but... Herman Cain tweets from the other side.

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Herman Cain
@THEHermanCain

Just in case you thought Biden's candidacy was going to be anything other than completely nuts, team Trump has released a new video. #JoeBiden #KamalaHarris

Trying to settle on the most accurate adjective... obscene?  Ghoulish? Desperate?

The account is also "verified".  Not sure what that means in the context of the tweeter being literally dead...

wmLambert

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Re: Is Our Partisanship a Threat to Our Democracy?
« Reply #9 on: August 13, 2020, 01:15:38 PM »
wmLambert, try to read for comprehension.  What do you think WS meant by "democracy"?  Do you think that the USA is not built on democratic principles? Do you not think the USA is counted among "Western Democracies?"

I see you never read or at least understood what our Founders told us in the Federalist and Anti-Federalist Papers. Stop using "Democracy" as a euphemism for our system when it is not. That is what Franklin warned about. You like mob rule so much you rationalize how it works.

Yes, the Dems use focus groups and think tanks to craft clichés and cute phrases that make bad things sound good. Such a tactic works. The KGB did that with the inflicted "Capitalism" to denigrate "Free Enterprise." You use it all the time, rationalizing it is an accepted usage. Too bad for you. Too bad for us.

Communist governments say everything is of the "People", but you know it is really of the ruling oligarchs, not the people at all. When you hear the term "Peoples' Republic" you know that is  bad ideology that can turn the jewel of South America into Venezuela. Chicago's Lightfoot can pretend she is a democratic representative of the people, but you know what she really is.

TheDrake

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Re: Is Our Partisanship a Threat to Our Democracy?
« Reply #10 on: August 13, 2020, 01:35:12 PM »
FYI, from the Orange God, DJT:

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More than any country in history we've made gains toward a democracy that is enviable throughout the world.

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This election will determine whether we're a free nation or whether we have only the illusion of democracy but are in fact controlled by a small handful of global special interests rigging the system

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She [Hillary Clinton] put her emails on a secret server to cover up her pay-for-play scandals in the State Department. Nothing threatens the integrity of our democracy more than when government officials put their public office up for sale.