Skip to comments.Why Is Washington So Polarized?
Posted on 02/16/2013 4:52:51 AM PST by Kaslin
People who have been around for a while all seem to agree. Never in living memory has the atmosphere on Capitol Hill and in Washington, D.C., generally been so toxic.
I dont find this to be true out in the hinterland. The country as a whole is divided politically. But its not obviously more divided than it was 50 years ago. The toxicity of politics is a D.C. phenomenon. Whats more, the polarization is worse among the elites. It seems that the more education they have, the more polarized people become.
Why is that?
I have a theory. Any period in which there is radical political change is likely to be a period when raw emotions are strained. The reason: political change means we are moving from an old system to a new one. When that happens, people who were wedded to the old system will perceive that they are losing something a way of life, a shared way of looking at the world, institutions that they relied on.
We are living in such a period. Over the past 30 years the entire world has seen a complete reversal in the political trend of the twentieth century. There was a time, not long ago, when many of us believed that the march toward communism and socialism was inevitable. Country after country moved left. In the first eight decades of the twentieth century, I cant think of a single place where individual liberty increased unless you count the aftermath of war in Germany, Italy and Japan.
Collectivism, it seemed, was unstoppable.
Then, in the last two decades of the last century, everything changed. Communism was dismantled almost everywhere. It was not only politically dismantled. Collectivism was intellectually discredited. All around the world, a new wave of thinking emerged one which saw that the left was wrong. Wrong about everything. Wrong about communism. Wrong about socialism. Wrong about the welfare state.
In country after country, the power of government was rolled back through deregulation and privatization. Its hard to exaggerate how fundamental this change has been. When Ronald Reagan was president, not even the most conservative politician would dare talk about privatizing Social Security. This was true in other countries as well. Yet today, more than 30 countries around the world have fully or partially privatized their social security systems. We havent done it yet. But weve discovered that a presidential candidate can talk about it and still win two elections.
About 40 countries now have a flat tax and tax rates have been generally falling almost everywhere. In Europe, talk of privatizing health, education and welfare was once as taboo as talk of privatizing Social Security was in the US. No longer.
Sweden, once thought of as the model for the modern welfare state, now has a full-fledged school voucher system, has privatized large segments of its health care system and is on the way toward privatization of almost all of its welfare state. Britain, which once boasted that its system of socialized medicine was the envy of the world has been privatizing health services for the past decade. Since 2008, National Health Service (NHS) patients have been able to choose any provider (NHS, private for-profit, private non-profit, etc.) they wish for elective care.
The dismantling of the state has not been smooth or even continuous. Some countries have seen reversals. Venezuela, Argentina, Ecuador and France come to mind. In our country we have gone from Bill Clintons declaration that the era of big government is over to a massive new entitlement created by ObamaCare.
These reversals give people on the left hope that the trend is not inevitable. Rather than being resigned to defeat, they see hope that collectivism might rise again.
A persistent myth is the idea that polarization and toxicity in politics has originated on the right. Nothing could be further from the truth. The Tea Party folks are well just plain folks with a point of view. If you want to find real bitterness, go interview the participants of Occupy Wall Street.
Paul Krugman is a New York Times columnist who routinely questions the motives, the ethics and even the sanity of people who disagree with him. You cant find editorials on the right that come close to his routine level of vitriol.
For the most part, the left in this country feels deeply threaten by events occurring all over the world. Every cherished belief of theirs is proving to be wrong. The institutions they revere are being dismantled.
Because Democrats are Communists, and they are the enemies of freedom.
For the last 25 years they have been battery acid to the American way.
Exactly. But I’m thinking more like 50 years. Not sure how much longer we can hold the fort! ;)
Because we have communists tryingvt collapse the society. Not hard to figure out.
Who ever declared that Washington shouldn’t be polarized? In the days of our founders it was brutal.
If anything, the desperate need that some feel to get along is going the most damage. Unfortunately those trying the hardest are on the republican side of the aisle.
Liberalism is a mental disease. They are not just angry -- they're crazy.
Republicans are 1/2 Communist, and that isn’t working anymore. The democrats want full-on Communism and the Republicans are thinking maybe 3/4 Communist ain’t so bad after all.
I see the MSM , democrats and the punditry all marching in lock step unison. There is not much opposition at all.
Oh yeah, and they want to take our guns so they can force the 100% Totalitarian Communism on the fly over people who still cling to their guns and religion.
> Then, in the last two decades of the last century, everything changed. Communism was dismantled almost everywhere. It was not only politically dismantled. Collectivism was intellectually discredited. All around the world, a new wave of thinking emerged one which saw that the left was wrong. Wrong about everything. Wrong about communism. Wrong about socialism. Wrong about the welfare state.
History repeats itself over and over again and tyrants rise up again and again trying to use the same old Jedi mindtricks to convince everyone that they know what’s best for them so that they can seize power and control the masses for political power and gain so that they can form ogliarchies to keep them in power. It takes the slower of the masses a liitle while to catch on that they’ve been lied to, deceived and manipulated before they rise up and overthrow the dictator of the day. This is where we are again. No it’s not that we want to hold on to the old ways. It’s just that we want a government that limited in power who will not intrude into our lives and pillage and plunder us until we are miserable. We just want to live without fear and be happy again and living under a tyrant does not make for either of those.
Republicans suck also all these people care about are their riches. They are stealing our money and they could care less. My voting days are over.
I do, at least where I live. The leftards are more strident than ever and furious at being thwarted by the "little people", i.e. the voters. Just look at Wisconsin.
Polarization was always there...just in acceptable amounts. I think in the 1990s as cable TV and internet arrived. Polarization went into turbo-mode.
When you went to your neighbor in 1967 and asked them who the Vice-President was....he had no idea. When you asked the starting line-up for the St Louis Cardinals...they knew all of the starters.
When you went to your neighbor in 1977 and asked who his governor was or his two senators....he might have named one of the three. If you asked him to name the three best boxers of the year....he’d name all three.
When you went to your neighbor in 1987 and asked him to name any Representatives in Congress....he might have named one or two. If you asked him to name all of the actors on Married with Children...he’d name them all.
But around 1997...when you asked him to name the President’s cabinet officers...suddenly he’d rattle off five. And he would respond to some baseball questions, but not quiet as much as he knew a decade ago.
So by 2007...suddenly your neighbor wants to come over and discuss fourteen political topics...all courtesy of his six hours today watching CSPAN. He could name sixteen senators and identify with some journalists appearing on MSNBC.
Today, we treat Washington like it’s a Super Bowl...every single day. The players and coaches, the rules, the commissioner, the trades, the interviews, the gossip, and the lack of comments when things actually occur on the field.
We are chaining ourselves up to some TV saga, that simply starts a brand new twenty-four hour cycle tomorrow morning...fresh, and with new story-line. And the truth is...our lives aren’t improving much.
I disagree that we are not polarized in flyover country. The liberals here in Real Virginia are just as nasty and childish as they are in the city.
And I do not believe that Obama really won the second election.
Now every political battle is a mini Civil War.
Wisconsin is a good example.
Scared and Angry go hand in hand. The strident are scared. They have no skills. Nobody wants them. The idea of having to go find a real job scares them, so they lash out. The Union people are used to scaring others to get what they want, so they’re the worst.
Power is a magnet for the power-hungry. Imagine what kind of people are attracted to enormous power that is Washington!
Imagine how dangerous these power hungry disfunctionals are--sociopaths, paranoids, narcissists, all assortments of power hungry personality disorders--drunk on the enormous power concentrated in the capital of the richest, most powerful nation in history!
And imagine how stupid are the millions of people who actually want to INCREASE the size of the government that is the cash-cow and the power-cow of these power hungry disfunctionals and actually want to INCREASE their wealth and power!
One can only gasp at the enormous stupidity of the masses who empower them!
“The country as a whole is divided politically. But its not obviously more divided than it was 50 years ago.”
I disagree completely. The whole nation is polarized like never in my life. Perhaps not as bad as Washington, but close.
And I think the reason is that the media so strongly promotes the Marxist viewpoint and the Marxist politicians.
And one cannot reason with the Marxists. Their main weapon is denigration of their opponents - not dealing with the facts. This totally eliminates the possibility for communication, let alone the two sides coming to any resolution on anything.
If it keeps going, I cannot see how a major split, if not a war, occurs in our nation.
And part of their madness is......they think the same thing
Two parties, who each are convinced the other is crazy - can not even communicate, let alone resolve anything.
Communists trying to collapse the society? We have the Muslim Brotherhood trying to collapse our society. The main Muslim Brotherhood representative in this country is Valerie Jarrett, and she directs Obama. He is Jarrett’s Parrot. When are journalists going to start shining the spotlight on Jarrett?
The dim party has morphed into the cpusa.
Look at their goals and the actions of the dim party and their president. Same same.
They are overtly cooperating with the radical muslims becuase they have the same goal.
The MSM is on the same team, so they will never “out” jarrett.
The polarization is between DC, and most urban area, and those of us living in “flyover country.”
This might occasionally show up in Congress, but mostly Congresscritters just go along to get along - esp. the GOP.
Cruz is simply a breath of fresh air, and he’ll be corrupted into the system shortly.
I just don’t agree with the article. What I see is the world moving toward a middle ground, sort of a democratic socialism (or Democracy with a safety net), which neither side is happy with.
I don’t thing Cruz is going to be corrupted.
He’s the real McCoy.
Was very sorry to read just now, he’d Canadian? Is that true?
(bummer if so)
Thomas Jefferson will allow American Children to wither on a French Pike.
The one stream media's lock down on good news is effective, but people are waking up anyway, not liking what they see and making changes.
Bring back the bullwhips and dueling pistols.
Abe Lincoln once jumped out a window to avoid voting and another time he challenged a senator to wrestle for a vote.
If they don’t start that way, then the power and access will eventually corrupt them.
For example, an otherwise good judge, Roberts, got nailed because he circumvented Irish law to adopt his kids - now we have Obamacare, permanently. The same thing can be done to just about anyone.
There is always leverage on everyone. If there is not, then Parties will do their best to rid itself of them.
As outlined in Fahrenheit 451.
Polarization is the entire goal of those rules, especially #13, which is their favorite.
SAUL ALINSKY'S RULES FOR RADICALS
For a long time, it was dems 40, reps 30, ind 30 and the dems won all the time.
This meant that the dems had to worry more about governing than winning and the repubs chipped in by being gracious losers but also trying to improve the dems product.
Now it is dems 30 repubs 30, ind 40. Now the dems are more concerned about winning than governing. The Repubs instead of being a cooperative minority are now a competitive party and also want to win.
It is now all about winning and not so much about governing.
Since the U.S. election I haven’t been optimistic about this country’s prospects. Seeing some instances in which European countries are stepping back from socialism is encouraging. Maybe there’s hope that once things become even worse here, leftists too will start to see the error of their ways (or a portion of them anyway).
Still, on the whole socialism seems pretty dominant in Europe. I have my doubts about its being able to move very far back in the other direction. Also in Europe the Muslim population is increasing, and along with it the threat of Islamist extremism. There’s not much left of the optimism that I felt for the West (and for the world as a whole) at the end of the Cold War. Glad to see the listing of some positive developments, though.
Agree with your post 29.
It was those years where we paid more attention to sports than politics that the great strides toward communism were made. From Social Security to LBJ’s war on poverty (which greatly expanded poverty) to Agenda 21 which is already making great strides. We almost slept too long. Far better they know who the politicians are and what they are up to than sports teams. In fact, I’ve been suspecting for a while that the bread and circuses of sports was what distracted Americans from their civic duty. When the American Revolution occurred, we had 150 years experience with self-government. We have been on auto-pilot, letting politicians run amuck for about a century now - so we are paying dearly for our past dereliction of duty as citizens.
Let the games continue, polarization is not the problem.
RULE 12: The price of a successful attack is a constructive alternative. Never let the enemy score points because youre caught without a solution to the problem.
Zippy has NO solutions. He keeps doing the same destructive things while campaigning against them. We know he wants the destruction, but most people have no clue. Hopefully, as the fiscal situation deteriorates, more people will notice that he DOES nothing--only talks.
The time race is whether they figure it out before he has cinched the deal and totally destroyed the whole country and then they turn on him. I hope we can wake up these losers in time!
Of course, the complicit fellow traveler media are all that keep him safe from reality. They are the ENEMEDIA!!! We will need to beat them too.
“Paul Krugman is a New York Times columnist who routinely questions the motives, the ethics, and even the sanity of people who disagree with him.”
That’s the reason for the toxicity in Washington.
Multiply that sort of venom by hundreds of Progressives in Congress and the recipe for nastiness, bad manners,
and schoolyard-bully tactics makes its appearance in an atmosphere that hangs heavy like smog.
Freedom vs Socialism
True enough, I guess. But this idea that “the state” can or should be “dismantled” is questionable. Can you really make that a slogan and put it on flags and bumpers and expect the atmosphere not be polarized?
Easy answer in a sports analogy:
Conservatives’ goalposts are in a fixed location.
Liberals’ goalposts are always being moved further away from conservatives’ goalposts.
Hence, polarization is always increasing.
And, BTW, every compromise with liberals is an implicit approval for them to move their goalposts again.