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Re: “Hidden Tribes,” the new report centrists are using to explain away polarization, explained

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@Centristsin2010

 

Interesting . . . . But as I was reading it, I thought to myself, in order for these classifications of majority members (the middle / more centrist members) to support their centrist or common ground views, they have to be given the somewhat same sort to which to cast their vote.  Polarization is coming from the two major parties - their platforms, their chosen and supported candidates.

 

We aren't given candidates in those groups of - Progressive Activists, Traditional Liberals, Passive Liberals, Politically Disengaged, Moderates, Traditional Conservatives, and Devoted Conservatives.   Perhaps a different voting method of voting in a ranked method like what some are discussing here could help.

Perhaps the advent of some strong (more centrist) third parties would help.

Or these strong parties modifying their stance on various issues to a more centrist position might help.  The later seems unrealistic at this point but I could be surprised - Woman Wink

 

I also think people can run the gamut in their political views based on a specific issue.  Sometimes they don't realize their views until something actually is happening to them involving the issue.  Case in point, in my community people whom you might think are Liberals or Passive Liberals and usually vote that way, have a more Conservative view on Immigration ( especially asylum seekers coming from the Latin American Northern Triangle ) because they feel their job is in jeopardy.

 

Think about the last time we had what I would call compromise in our Congress - seems to me it was when a Congresscritter's vote could be changed by building in something into the legislation for their particular district - a buy off was our compromise process before this extreme polarization.  Now we would have to buy off various whole caucuses because the lines have been drawn in the sand, so it seems.

 

Guess, we should be grateful that this polarization hasn't affected all issues but it definitely has the biggest ones.

 

 

 

 

* * * * It's Always Something . . . Roseanne Roseannadanna
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“Hidden Tribes,” the new report centrists are using to explain away polarization, explained

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“Hidden Tribes,” the new report centrists are using to explain away polarization, explained

 

 

To most political observers, it seems obvious that political polarization is on the rise. The parties are becoming more hardline and their bases more ideologically unified. Partisan affiliation is now more important than ever in shaping the way Americans think about everything, even down to whom they want their kids to marry.

 

But a new genre of political punditry has proclaimed this something of a myth. A series of op-eds published in some of the country’s most prominent outlets — including the New York Times, the Washington Post, and the New Yorker — have argued that polarization is in fact overstated, and that there’s an “exhausted majority” in America yearning for political leaders that use centrist compromise as its guiding light.

 

“The majority hates polarization and wants more compromise,” the New Yorker’s George Packer writes in a representative passage. “Overwhelmingly, they are sick of the political divisions — often to the point of tears — and feel forgotten in the debate, especially as it’s distorted by the media.”

 

These articles all cite the same source for this claim: A new report on American public opinion by the group More In Common, an organization dedicated to fighting political polarization. The report, titled “Hidden Tribes,” sorts the American public into seven “tribes,” each of which shares an overall orientation toward politics. It finds that five of the seven tribes, representing roughly 67 percent of the American public, make up the so-called “hidden majority” fed up with the left-right divide.

 

“The Exhausted Majority may be the key to countering polarization,” More In Common’s analysts write. “They are frustrated with the status quo and the conduct of American politics and public debate.”

 

The report is, as a matter of quality, a mixed bag. It has a lot of interesting data, and has a sophisticated way of approaching polling, but its most headline-worthy conclusions are grounded in pretty questionable analysis. In particular, political scientists say, it likely overstates the significance of the seven tribes for actual voting behavior while significantly understating the importance of partisanship as traditionally understood.

 

“There have been many, many attempts to explain or explain away partisan polarization over the years — but the consistent evidence is that it is increasing on the mass level in the last few decades,” says Ryan Enos, a professor at Harvard University.

So while the report is by no means useless, the new centrist punditry is resting its arguments on the report’s weakest point. The fact that they’re willing to make such dubious claims speaks more to the mind of the Washington centrist than anything else: a tribe with virtually no members outside of a small elite that suffers from a deep-seated need to convince itself otherwise.

This current centrist boomlet is thus a symptom of a longer-running problem: a blindness in America’s leadership class to the true nature of the country’s divisions.

 

What the “Hidden Tribes” report aimed to do

 

At this point, the evidence that political polarization is a major threat to the American political system is pretty much beyond dispute.

 

Political parties, once useful gears in the functioning of the overall political system, have become barriers to its success. Both sides, but Republicans especially, have become used to using the many veto points in the American political system (like the filibuster) to block the opposing party from doing anything and seize as much power as possible for themselves. The result is the mutation of two-party competition, once a healthy part of democracy, into a kind of cancer.

 

“The weakening of our democratic norms is rooted in extreme partisan polarization — one that extends beyond policy differences into an existential conflict over race and culture,” political scientists Steven Levitsky and Daniel Ziblatt write in their book How Democracies Die. “And if one thing is clear from studying breakdowns throughout history, it’s that extreme polarization can kill democracy.”

 

The “Hidden Tribes” report aimed, admirably, to try to find solutions to this problem — places where Americans agree, which politicians could use to bring us back from the brink identified by scholars like Levitsky and Ziblatt.

 

The More In Common authors surveyed 8,000 Americans and asked them a series of questions about their policy preferences, values, and identity. The goal was to go beyond traditional polling and identify the deeper, more psychological roots of American partisanship.

 

Some of the questions they used to get this — like you agree more with the idea that people “are largely responsible for their own outcomes in life” or that “their outcomes in life are determined largely by forces outside of their control” — have obvious ideological valences. Others, like whether it’s more important for children to be “independent” or to have “respect for elders,” are more subtle.

 

They also asked questions about people’s involvement in politics, like whether they had attended a protest in the past year, and about their sense of identity, like how much pride they had in being American.

 

The theory is that this sort of question can help better identify people’s foundational beliefs than simply asking them which policies they support or whom they vote for. Ideally, they could uncover some common, non-polarized ground.

 

The report’s authors used people’s answers to a battery of about 60 questions to construct their seven tribes, using a statistical method called “cluster analysis.” It’s a tool designed to identify groups of individual data points, in this case people’s responses to the questionnaire, that have certain traits in common. In this case, the analysis yielded seven large groupings — each of which share certain traits, like overall political apathy or liberal moral values.

 

The groups are, from left to right: Progressive Activists, Traditional Liberals, Passive Liberals, Politically Disengaged, Moderates, Traditional Conservatives, and Devoted Conservatives. The middle four groups, from Traditional Liberals to Moderates, make up the so-called exhausted majority. Large percentages of people in each of the five groups shared a disdain for polarization, non-ideological opinions on complex topics, and a strong desire for political compromise.

 

There’s a lot of interesting data from the survey used to arrive at that conclusion. For example, the survey showed that more than 87 percent of exhausted majority members believed both that racism remaining a major problem and that considering race in college admissions is wrong. Two-thirds of the exhausted majority supports abortion rights, but around half believe that people are too sensitive about sex and gender.

 

The point is that even on the hot-button culture war issues fueling polarization, there’s common ground to be found. It may not be a precise midpoint between left and right — the report’s authors emphasize that it often isn’t — but rather argues that there are places where both sides could give ground in order to be more in line with the general public. This is, indeed, a not-unreasonable point.

 

“If the purpose of the report is to show that Americans cannot always be divided cleanly into ‘red’ and ‘blue’ camps, or that many Americans do not have orthodox liberal or conservative views, then that is surely true and consistent with decades of political science,” John Sides, a political scientist at George Washington University, tells me.

 

The report concludes by arguing that their report could, in theory, serve as the bedrock for an effort to turn polarization around.

 

“This report has shown that despite America’s profound polarization, the middle is far larger than conventional wisdom suggests, and the strident wings of progressivism and conservatism far smaller,” they conclude. “It may well take a generation, but [changes] start with understanding how we can effectively counter this polarization.”

 

It’s a hopeful tale: data giving us an answer to one of America’s biggest problems, one that appears unsolvable to a lot of people. But it’s missing a huge chunk of the story.

 

more at: “Hidden Tribes,” the new report centrists are using to explain away polarization, explained


"FAKE 45 #illegitimate" read a sign at the Woman's March in Washington DC, January 21, 2017.
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