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  1. #1
    ^He pronks, too! Magic Poriferan's Avatar
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    Default Political polarity and the future of the USA.

    So, I'm back to this train of thought. Some of you have read very similar things from me. This is the first time I dedicated a thread to it instead of mucking up other threads with it. I had actually a dream about the Republicans taking control of the house and senate so I figured I need to keep talking about this because it's clearly intruding on my thoughts.

    I see a hot front and cold front that are bound to meet.

    The right wing has become so zealous that it sees moderate politicians as internal threats to the USA and even the core values upon which our society is based.

    The left wing has experienced its greatest disappointment in what is now around a 35 year history of disappointments, feeling that Obama and his allies controling both bodies of the legislature have proven disillusioningly unprogressive.

    If it any point the left wing finally gets someone that it feels represents their beliefs into the political circles of influence again (you know, some sort of great society, new deal kind people), I think all hell will break loose. That is when the two fronts meet.

    If the right wing hates the current politicians so much, how are they going to respond to politicians that the left wing can actually call its own? I think they'll handle it like Martian invasion, or the second coming. The right wing will find these new left wing progressives ideologically incomprehensible and will have about as much respect for them as a Bolshevik had for a kulak. The left wing, for their part, will be staunchly rooted in the sense that they are entitled to be respresented by these politicians after what they consider so many years of being impotent and ignored.

    The difference, I conjecture, should be irreconcilable. What kind of conflict it will turn into, I cannot exactly say, but a conflict it will be. It's going to be something big, something that will shape the history of this country for the rest of its existence. That's usually what happens with irreconcilable political differences.

    But it has to happen. There's only one way it couldn't happen, and that's if one of the two sides is drowned out before it ever has a chance to create conflict. That's not acceptable. That's possible even worse. Since the right wing has been waxing for some time now and clearly has more zeal on its side, if this scenario played out I imagine it would be the left that dissolves and give way to complete right wing hegemony. That would be no good.

    Somehow, the whole paradigm of reasonable disagreement and loyal opposition has disappeared. My own guess is that it had to do with the Democrats over-exposing and over-extending themselves, subsequently resulting in decades of their ideological commitment declining directly coinciding with the Republicans ideological commitment inclining. That eventually brought us to this situation, in which letting the Republicans go unchecked would be dangerous for this country, but the political gap is so wide that no attampt to check them can be civil anymore.

    Throw in an economic depression and fading glory on the international stage and you have a great backdrop for political disagreements to boil over.

    The balance got all screwed up and there is no comfortable way to set it back. Or is there?

    Let's suppose that it doesn't have to play out in the boundaries I've set: How could we possible reconcile this situation? One must understand that it can't be acceptable to completely ignore or disregard all the people in the USA who might, for example, actually want universal healthcare (or various other progressive, left-leaning policies). On the other hand, I have no idea how to calm down the right wing at this point. When I see the venom that comes from them, and the incredibly burning anger with which it is ejected, I see people that can't be reasoned with.

    Got any ideas?
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  2. #2
    Senior Member Survive & Stay Free's Avatar
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    Dude, I just was msging MT about this, that's so freaking spooky like ESP or something.

  3. #3
    Glowy Goopy Goodness The_Liquid_Laser's Avatar
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    I kind of think most of American politics is smoke and mirrors. It's kind of sad and funny at the same time. I like to watch the Daily Show, because the whole thing is rediculous.

    My take: the Republican party is actually the party most honest with itself. They know that they're corporate tools, so they play the part accordingly. The Democratic party on the other hand still wants to do good, but they need (or want) corporate money to fight their battles (and enjoy other perks on the side). So the result is that the Republicans become more right wing and the Democrats become more centrist. The whole nation gradually is shifting right. The show we see on our TVs is really to distract us from seeing that corporations are calling most of the shots.

    I tend to think though that public opinion will change as people use the internet more. The internet in its current form is mostly immune to propaganda unlike TV.
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  4. #4
    Don't Judge Me! Haphazard's Avatar
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    I see a bunch of smoke and mirrors too.

    What we will have are politicians who are increasingly insulated from the people, and whether that's a good thing or not depends. It might be good because the people are fucking crazy. It might be bad because it kind of goes against everything the country stands for.

    The electoral college might go back to its original purpose. I mean, do you really want your elected officials chosen by someone who says, "Send Obama back to Kenya, we want Churchill back"?
    -Carefully taking sips from the Fire Hose of Knowledge

  5. #5
    Senior Member Survive & Stay Free's Avatar
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    Who is saying they want Churchill back? That's bizarre.

    I've got to say that I agree with MP though, the left and right in America are becoming more polarised and also more identifiable, if you dont cut a particular profile you're not welcome in their respective camps, the hostility is getting ramped up too.

    The only faction which I would expect to make trouble would be the right wing, not maybe in the sense of organised uprisings but perhaps simple things like getting pulled over escalating into fire fights, that's mainly going to be a problem for the authorities.

    The right wing are also tooled up and have had years of preparedness and self-reliance propaganda the left has ignored. I used to be a visitor to a US watch site when I met a guy who was pretty funny on a socialist website, he was kind of trolling the place but had a lot of interesting points too. I dont visit anymore, I didnt get banned but things got to such a pitch that being a state employee pretty much put me outside the boundary of civil exchanges, it was all swearing, hate, pretty awful things said. That site now is pretty much only a preparedness site, there's kind of a consensus, the talking is done, now lets get ready. Ready for what I'm not sure but they expect a left wing government to get elected eventually and to resist it with force.

    The left is not organised and its not prepared either, I dont think anywhere globally that it is but in the US it could have to contend with some pretty mean armed elements its a little different. The long detour into identity politics, particularly minority identities, has meant they dont have a lot of support, it doesnt matter if the policies are good if their purveyors provoke a basic dislike.

    US politics IS interesting because unlike a lot of the world a centrist managerialism hasnt bedded in and widespread apathy taken over, people still fall out at election time and the rest of the time too. There's other issues too, organised crime, gangs, an armed populace, some of the gangs in LA commentators have said are about as well armed as insurgents in Iraq and are running guns to Mexico effectively fighting the government forces there over drugs and human trafficking.

    Perhaps big shifts in policy only happen at the behest of corporations or the military industrial complex but other things can happen too, a lot of the right wing are totally disillusioned by their party, they wanted Bush to whole sale abolish state benefits and it didnt happen, they dont know who to vote for to make that happen. I see it as kind of the US's equivalent of communism in Russia, until its demonstrably unworkable and possibly even then the perfectionist schemes of the right will hold appeal and motivate crazy demands.

  6. #6
    Senior Member Lateralus's Avatar
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    I see more polarity among older people than with younger people, which seems backwards to me. Younger people are supposed to be more idealistic, but they seem disillusioned to me. Older people are supposed to become more reasonable and practical with age, instead they've become more ideologically entrenched.
    "We grow up thinking that beliefs are something to be proud of, but they're really nothing but opinions one refuses to reconsider. Beliefs are easy. The stronger your beliefs are, the less open you are to growth and wisdom, because "strength of belief" is only the intensity with which you resist questioning yourself. As soon as you are proud of a belief, as soon as you think it adds something to who you are, then you've made it a part of your ego."

  7. #7
    Senior Member Kephalos's Avatar
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    A few semesters ago I took a class on Public Economics and the professor presented an argument that I agreed with whole-heartedly. Suppose that political preferences can be represented along a horizontal axis. Also let the support for that policy (from the extremes to the center) be represented by bell-curve -- I think it was a normal distribution: now a political party that supported the radical solutions on either extreme would get less votes than a political party that supported a more moderate (near the center) policy. That was the median voter theorem. But, if two parties supported what the median voter wants, they would each get fifty percent of the vote, that is, not enough to have a majority. The professor said that a party needed to get some of the more extremist votes, so what a party could do was to resort to more radical discourse and thus have a bare majority to court it. So, it is possible that what you see as more right-wing polarization is really a strategy to court the vote of the more extreme opinion while intending to pursue a more moderate policy once the Republican party -- putatively -- increases its share of power in Congress.

    As for welfare entitlements I will quote a recent article by Anthony de Jasay:

    The "ratchet effect"...(was) the first empirical law of democracy: under majority rule, welfare entitlements are either maintained or increased, but cannot be reduced.
    I mean, how much did progressive welfare entitlements really go down during the past Republican administration?

  8. #8
    On a mission Usehername's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kephalos View Post
    A few semesters ago I took a class on Public Economics and the professor presented an argument that I agreed with whole-heartedly. Suppose that political preferences can be represented along a horizontal axis. Also let the support for that policy (from the extremes to the center) be represented by bell-curve -- I think it was a normal distribution: now a political party that supported the radical solutions on either extreme would get less votes than a political party that supported a more moderate (near the center) policy. That was the median voter theorem. But, if two parties supported what the median voter wants, they would each get fifty percent of the vote, that is, not enough to have a majority. The professor said that a party needed to get some of the more extremist votes, so what a party could do was to resort to more radical discourse and thus have a bare majority to court it. So, it is possible that what you see as more right-wing polarization is really a strategy to court the vote of the more extreme opinion while intending to pursue a more moderate policy once the Republican party -- putatively -- increases its share of power in Congress.

    As for welfare entitlements I will quote a recent article by Anthony de Jasay:



    I mean, how much did progressive welfare entitlements really go down during the past Republican administration?
    Good post. This is my perception as well, though I don't think I'd figured it out as eloquently.

    A lot of the public personas of political leaders have been intentionally cultivated to appeal to a certain demographic to get the edge, though I think most understand that that's what it is--an edge. Most people are hangin' somewhere around the middle area, not the edges.
    *You don't have a soul. You are a Soul. You have a body.
    *Faith is the art of holding on to things your reason once accepted, despite your changing moods.
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  9. #9
    Don't Judge Me! Haphazard's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lateralus View Post
    I see more polarity among older people than with younger people, which seems backwards to me. Younger people are supposed to be more idealistic, but they seem disillusioned to me. Older people are supposed to become more reasonable and practical with age, instead they've become more ideologically entrenched.
    America has always been a very backwards country. The young people seem very civil and the old so virulent. It's like they're trying not to go gentle into that good night.

    Yes, I saw an American sign that said they wanted Churchill back. Maybe they want to reinstate British rule?
    -Carefully taking sips from the Fire Hose of Knowledge

  10. #10
    Senior Member lowtech redneck's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Magic Poriferan View Post
    Let's suppose that it doesn't have to play out in the boundaries I've set: How could we possible reconcile this situation? One must understand that it can't be acceptable to completely ignore or disregard all the people in the USA who might, for example, actually want universal healthcare (or various other progressive, left-leaning policies).
    By the same token, it can't be acceptable to completely ignore the people in the USA who actually want limited government (and no, democratic accountability does not constitute "limited" government) and federalism.

    The two activist political camps have mutually opposed goals in this respect; its not like the primary issue is the overall rate of taxation, which is amenable to compromise-in a conflict over first principles that define the political structure of a country, there can only be a prolonged ideological conflict that ends whenever the centrists and independents lean toward one end of the spectrum and the losing coalition gives up for a time.

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