Why is the nation more bitterly divided today than it’s been in 80 years? Why is there more anger, vituperation, and political polarization now than even during Joe McCarthy’s anti-communist witch hunts of the 1950s, the tempestuous struggle for civil rights in the 1960s, the divisive Vietnam war, or the Watergate scandal?
If anything, you’d think this would be an era of relative calm. The Soviet Union has disappeared and the Cold War is over. The Civil Rights struggle continues, but at least we now have a black middle class and even a black president. While the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have been controversial, the all-volunteer army means young Americans aren’t being dragged off to war against their will. And although politicians continue to generate scandals, the transgressions don’t threaten the integrity of our government as did Watergate.
And yet, by almost every measure, Americans are angrier today. They’re more contemptuous of almost every major institution — government, business, the media. They’re more convinced the nation is on the wrong track. And they are far more polarized.
Political scientists say the gap between the median Republican voter and the median Democrat is wider today on a whole host of issues than it’s been since the 1920s.
But I think the deeper explanation for what has happened has economic roots. From the end of World War II through the late 1970s, the economy doubled in size — as did almost everyone’s income. Almost all Americans grew together. In fact, those in the bottom fifth of the income ladder saw their incomes more than double. Americans experienced upward mobility on a grand scale.
Yet for the last three and a half decades, the middle class has been losing ground. The median wage of male workers is now lower than it was in 1980, adjusted for inflation.
In addition, all the mechanisms we’ve used over the last three decades to minimize the effects of this descent — young mothers streaming into paid work in the late 1970s and 1980s, everyone working longer hours in the 1990s, and then borrowing against the rising values of our homes — are now exhausted. And wages are still dropping — the median is now 4 percent below what it was at the start of the so-called recovery.
Meanwhile, income, wealth, and power have become more concentrated at the top than they’ve been in ninety years.
As a result, many have come to believe that the deck is stacked against them. Importantly, both the Tea Party and the Occupier movements began with the bailouts of Wall Street — when both groups concluded that big government and big finance had plotted against the rest of us. The former blamed government; the latter blamed Wall Street.
Political scientists have also discovered a high correlation between inequality and political divisiveness.
The last time America was this bitterly divided was in the 1920s, which was the last time income, wealth, and power were this concentrated.
When average people feel the game is rigged, they get angry. And that anger can easily find its way into deep resentments — of the poor, of blacks, of immigrants, of unions, of the well-educated, of government.
This shouldn’t be surprising. Demagogues throughout history have used anger to target scapegoats — thereby dividing and conquering, and distracting people from the real sources of their frustrations.
Mr. Reich stumbles over the truth at the end. It’s identity politics.
All things considered Americans are in pretty good shape. We could be doing much better, but the only people starving in this country are middle-class white girls with self-esteem issues. Our poor people are suffering from obesity!
You can survive in this country without doing any work. We’ll feed you, house you and give you medical care. If you don’t want to come get it we’ll bring it to you. The poor people of Mexico endure hardships to get here because being poor here is better than being poor anywhere else.
Are you angry that Kim and Kanye have gold-plated toilets? It doesn’t bother me. I honestly don’t envy them. I don’t know what I would do with that kind of money. Waste it probably.
Identity politics is “us” versus “them”. Your life didn’t turn out like you planned? It’s their fault. Who’s “them?” That depends on who you are.
But “they” are bad and “we” are good. Another term for identity politics is tribalism. Here are Arthur Silber’s Laws of Tribal Behavior:
ONE: To the degree that membership in a particular tribe or tribes is important to a person’s sense of identity, that person believes that his own tribe(s) is inherently and uniquely good. To the degree that tribal membership is a critical element of personal identity, all members of all tribes are convinced this is true of those tribes to which they belong.
TWO: Insofar as the tribe’s centrally defining characteristic(s) (race, religion, political beliefs, etc.) are concerned, all other tribes that differ with regard to these characteristics are necessarily inferior and wrong. This has an especially critical implication: at first with regard to these centrally defining characteristics, and inevitably in a more general sense, the individual members of all other tribes are necessarily inferior to and less worthy than the members of one’s own tribe(s).
THREE: The basic dynamics of all tribes are the same. This applies to all tribes in two different critical respects. It is true of dynamics within the tribe — that is, of those particular mechanisms which create and maintain tribal identity and cohesiveness — and it is also true of how one tribe views itself and behaves in relation to other tribes.
FOUR: The major mechanism by which any tribe creates and maintains tribal identity and cohesiveness is obedience: the requirement that each member of the tribe conform his thinking and behavior in accordance with the major elements of the tribe’s belief system.
The real question is why are we getting more tribal in our politics? Part of it is demogoguery. But part of it is survival.
A while back we decided that life shouldn’t be unfair anymore. So we told government to make things more fair. With the best of intentions we created a spoils system overseen by government. Favored groups get a bigger slice of the pie and government regulators pick the winners and losers in the marketplace.
You didn’t build that so you don’t get to keep the money. The government is gonna make you share it with others. Unless of course you make the right campaign donations, in which case the government will practically guarantee you will not only make a lot of money but you’ll get to keep it too. (And if you don’t donate your competitors will.)
That kind of stuff has always been an inherent danger of government. But lately it has metastasized into a huge regulatory bureaucracy.
There is an old saying that goes “Tax the rich, feed the poor”. But you can only take so much from the rich before there aren’t any rich people left. Then some politicians figured out they could borrow the money instead of raising it thru taxes.
It was like Christmas every day. We can cut taxes on the rich, increase spending on welfare and the military, send everybody to college and buy everybody a house!
(Except now we’re running out of credit.)
Neither party has shown much interest in fixing the system because they both have a vested interest in the status quo. So they keep us feuding, fussing and a-fightin’. The parties exist to serve the party leaders.
Wait, you thought that was your party? Ha ha! How quaint.
One thing I learned in 2008 is that the Democrats were my party the same way the Oakland Raiders were my team. I could wear the colors and root for the players but I had no control over the decision making.
Free your mind.
Well said, Klown. I demon blog, you know, and say nice things about you behind your back.
“Free your mind.”
Brilliant, Klown, absolutely brilliant. Took me long enough to understand that.
Alas, I fear I am too stupid to add myself to the Crawdad blog roll without breaking something. I am a woman, you know. After I break it, I will beg you to fix it and then needlessly whine about how you are fixing it all wrong. That is just my thing.
In the meantime, http://yttik22.wordpress.com/ or click my gravatar.
You are blogrolled.
Keep saying nice things about me and they’ll know you’ve lost it.
You are so worthy of my praise. I have been asking myself over and over, why the hell am I following a psychotic Klown around like a puppy dog?? Now I finally know. You are simply smarter then me and I love to read your words.
Okay all better now. You fixed everything.
You’re not a stalker, are you? Cuz that would be weird.
Don’t forget….free your mind and your ass will follow…
Oh geesh, the NAACP is pushing the DOJ to bring charges against the rodeo clown for inciting violence against the President. Have they lost their freakin’ marbles? The War on Clowns begins…….
The King is not amused.
Who is this Will Antonin ? Pretty ignorant if he hasn’t seen Clownie’s FB page being passed around the social medias for support. He’s an old white guy who has saved more lives than Obama 😉 And yes, there have been death threats too, probably the reason media doesn’t want to Zimmerman him.
Tuffy was not the guy wearing the mask. He was the one doing the talking.
Nope, the announcer was Mark Frickin (?) and he did resign.
A CBS affiliate in St. Louis says Tuffy was wired ? So confuzzled now, so Tuffy was the announcer and the “real” announcer quit because he was blindsided by the routine ?
The quick answer is yes, they have lost their freakin’ marbles. And along with the marbles, their respect for free speech and our willingness as a nation to poke fun at our leaders.
A multitude of HONKS!
Ugh, Fox was showing the beating over and over and over this morning, thank goodness for Fraiser reruns. Ahhh, my happy place.
Legal Insurrection addresses the same topic:
Isn’t this what you call “sh*t stirring” ? 😉
It’s Russia for pete’s sake, there is no free speech tolerated which would include protesting Putin’s homophobic “rules” ?
I hate the way the self righteous always come up with some reason why we should boycott the Olympics. Why do they feel they need to control the behavior of everyone all over the world?
In 1936 we didn’t boycott the Olympics. We sent Jesse Owens to Berlin to prove that Nazi notions of an Aryan super-race were bullshit.
That was way more effective and memorable than a boycott. I have this vague memory of boycotting the Olympics once or twice for some reason but nothing specific.
Well, we can’t actually do that this time, since gay athletes are banned. Just sayin’.
Women were banned for many years from many Olympic sports, did any male team boycott? No because some change was happening and that was supposed to be enough for women athletes. How are they going to determine if someone is gay or not? They can’t with any reliability. Wear rainbow armbands if it makes people feel better but don’t act like every problem a gay person encounters needs to be solved immediately since the rest of us still put up with sexism against women being solved at a snails pace.
Ad for a clothing line for drag queens?
What makes me bitter is the knowledge that so many Americans are so ignorant to facts. How low information citizens can become the majority and make decisions that affect us all. How easily manipulated they can be and how dishonest the media in creating false scenereos and how gullible the majority is.
Is it lack of common sense, bad education, superficial education without critical thinking….
Whatever causes it, it makes me sick.
Letting stupid people vote is a really dumb idea, and yet it works (so far). Maybe the USA really is exceptional. The fact that we have hung on to this country as long as we have is a miracle. Perhaps there is some Higher Power looking out for us.
It makes as much sense as dumb luck.
Actually, the Obama voters are the dumbest of the lot. Look what they gave us and they don’t even know he is lying to them. They actually think he closed Guantanamo, gave women equal pay and only kills bad people because he HAS to.
Democracy depends on an informed electorate, and I don’t think things are going all that well with our Democracy.
Anything that does actually work must be dumb luck.
People today are just as stupid as they used to be. No more, no less.
Ironically (considering this is the “Information Age”) people today are less informed. Or perhaps I should say they are more misinformed.
I like to call it the Disinformation Age. Or the Age of Unenlightenment.
All the knowledge in the world at your fingertips. Along with all the bullshit.
with this kind of thinking why do we need teachers?
this kind of thinking cheats our kids
this kind of thinking do not produce a good future for this country
Teachers who don’t keep up with technology are dinosaurs. There are new skills they need to teach kids. Reading is no longer a strictly linear experience. Hyperlinks in our online texts have added a new level to the skills needed to follow and comprehend. While calculators could replace rote learning of number facts, students need a better “number sense” when math is valued over arithmetic. History and science books are usually bought with an expected shelf life of at least 5 years. Teachers expect the editors have done a good job of proofing the material for accuracy. But today we know intentional bias is rampant. The internet provides opportunities for kids to see the original source materials, plus a lot of junk. Learning how to separate the two is an important task to teach. Kids 50 years ago were more reliant on teachers and librarians to do it for them. I’m first in line to say we’re shortchanging kids, but not because we aren’t teaching 19th century curriculum. It’s because we aren’t teaching them the full range of skills they need for the 21st.
my biggest complaint about today’s education is that God gave kids their first computer. It is called a brain. we have stopped teaching kids to use it first and then the electronic tools. an electronic computer breaks down and too many kids do not know how to use the god given computer.
this is part of the problem
But there are strategies involved in running a race to win it. Do you bolt across the starting line as fast as you can and hope you can maintain your speed for the entire length of the race, or do you pace yourself and save energy for the last stretch? Should the strategies be different depending on the length of the race? Teaching kids to just “run it” leaves out a lot of valuable learning. Malkin has a vendetta against math curricula that focus on teaching kids multiple ways to go about solving a problem and where teaching the problem solving skills take precedence over getting the right answer until the problem solving skills are mastered. I suspect it began when her daughter, who was quite capable at “drill and kill” wasn’t so great at solving problems. Kids today don’t score as well on math tests as they used to because more math skills are required of them. My dad complained 50 years ago that not enough kids could make change. There still are too many kids that can’t, but the bar has been set that every high school graduate must now be proficient in algebra. There’s no more “business math”. Making change is small potatoes, especially when the cash register will do it for you. And Malkin isn’t upset that there’s a “common core curriculum” as much as she’s upset about what it is. Which is a conversation our country should have. But the idea that all kids will have access to a common educational heritage with room for regional add-ons isn’t evil in and of itself.
The problem is still the “common” part of common core. If there is a universal standard, it is too tempting to use it to disseminate ideology.
some states pushing back against common core national standards
obamacare destroys marriage
sheriffs to meet with boehner over immigration bill
backtrack just needs one more lobbyist to get tax on cell phones
jesse jackson jr gets 30 months
his wife gets 12 months
funny how CBS- MSNBC forget to mention that jackson jr is a democrat
On a related note ….
Jesse Jackson Jr, after serving prison time, will have 3 years of supervised release and 500 hours of community service – @ZoeTillman
He said he believed in the power of forgiveness and redemption which means he will run for office again when he gets out.
and most likely get voted in again
He’ll probably run for office before he gets out. He’s from Chicago. I think one of the former Chicago aldermen began his campaign from the prison doorway.
That’s like grad school for Chicago politicians.
obamacare exemption – none dare call it treason
stolen from a commenter at No Quarter.
interesting interview with reggie love.
he and backtrack were playing cards during ben ladin raid. photo shopped picture of backtrack in situation room?
Ace of Spades has a story on this . the comments are great
why there is a need for the TSA at rodeos
changes in power locations in this country
there really is not a brain in the bunch of those who run Detroit
how odd. treasury dept ran up 98 billion deficit in July. Debt numbers stays the same.
when I charge something on my credit card the balance changes. can I find out how to do the same as the treasury dept? It would make my life easier.
OFA threw a protest and no body came
backtrack issues another executive order.
there goes the gas prices and he just peed in your corn flakes
this could get very interesting.
christi will not help lonegan in NJ
if they were that talented an smart they would not be behind bars
they do a great service for the country which the msm no longer does
million muslim march planned in DC on anniversary of 9-11
now this has to be one of the most stupid ideas I have heard in a long time. all I can think of is there will be blood
Wow, That is not a good idea.
government shutdown – debt ceiling – obamacare
Remember Ray Nagin? I do. I defended him against the evil Bush and his hecka of job Brownie FEMA pal. I defended those school buses underwater because Ray said those drivers were evacuating their families. I blamed Bush for Katrina too !
Well, looks like he’s just another Dem crook afterall.
I remember when his wife left New Orleans and rented a mansion in the Dallas area while they were still looking for corpses. That raised eyebrows. Then he spent as little time in NO as possible from then on. Both of them essentially abandoned the city. If there was no where safe for them to live they could have gone to Baton Rouge, Lake CharIes or even Houston but Dallas? I guess he just went back to pick up checks.
Well that sucks. He must’ve hung around long enough to get re-elected. God it’s good to be off the plantation now. 😉
That school bus excuse didn’t float, either. Three drivers can relocate lots of buses in a couple of hours. They lost ALL of them. No one even thought about them. Two drivers tried to enter the locked yard and were turned away. It’s not important, except why lie about it?
oprah’s SNAFU gets even better
Rodeo clown invited to perform in Texas
first the breakup with matt damon now oliver stone calls backtrack a snake.
that koolaid leaves a hell of a hangover when you stop drinking it.
@derekahunter Have you considered riots in Egypt are direct response to the actions of the Rodeo Clown? We know what YouTube videos can do.
This is from CNN, but a pretty good article on Putin and his gay problem:
The short story seems to be gays are not banned, but protesting for gay rights in Russia is. It’s why I live here 🙂
That and the endless supply of bacon is why I’m here.
Bacon ! Man, with our bumper crop of tomatoes this summer, can’t get enough BLT’s 😀
My personal inclination is for us to tend to our own knitting. I’m not saying Putin is right, because he’s wrong. But that’s Russia’s problem.
If and when we are done solving our own problems we can start meddling in other countries’ affairs. “Mote in your neighbor’s eye” and all that. We are not the World’s Policeman. We aren’t their nanny either.
It also bothers me how we pick and choose. If we want to make world-wide LGBT rights our national policy then that’s one thing. I’m all for it, as long as we start right here at home. But we make it an issue in Russia, treat as “states’ rights” here and ignore it in Muzzy countries where gays aren’t just discriminated against, they’re murdered.
Exactly. And someone asked upstairs, “when have we boycotted an Olympics before?” it was Carter punishing Russia for Occupying Afghanistan.
obamacare provision forced home inspections
read the list of homes they can invade without a warrant
I guess Charlie here stands for actual liberals/leftists/non-Vile progs.
Connected article from Cannonfire (NSFW for a few F-bombs)
From a tweet:
As soon as I saw this, I knew I had to post it here.
The 1931 Histomap – Four thousand years of world history.
that is neat. I stole it
USA companies need not apply
I just saw this- Harry Lennix (from The Matrix) called “The Butler” historical porn:
Sounds about right. Take a true story and add a bunch of stuff to make it fit the preferred racial narrative.
Klown, remember the Fifth Element, Bruce Willis, girls falls from the sky and drops into the back of his taxi? She learns to speak English, but just keeps repeating over and over, “I am a girl, I am a gift, God sent me.” That ear worm has plagued me for months. You so deserve to have it handed back to you.
Are you watching it on Encore right now?
Klown, also remember Taylor Swift? I am never, never, never, going to break up with you. However, if you don’t figure this out, “all you’re ever going to be is mean.”
Have we ever had a religious debate here before? I don’t think so. I guess I have never told you, but I am a Christian, always have been, since I first saw God when I was three years old.
Bring on the debate Klown, I’ll tell you about it. I think it may be the piece you’re missing.
If you want to debate religion write a post about it and pick a fight.
Klown, you so have not been paying attention in class. I am not even capable of picking a fight with you anymore. That was lost ages ago, somewhere around the time you repaired my marriage, saved two of my children, and convinced me it was okay to get a job nursing dying men. That is not melodrama, it’s simply the truth.
I suspect you are agnostic. Since you have kept me trapped in blissful ignorance for so long, I had no clue beyond, “stop picking on Mormons.” I remember that part very well.
Suit yourself, it’s your blog, but its also why you lost.
1. I give good advice.
2. I am incapable of taking any, even my own.
3. I am not now nor have I ever been a Mormon.
4. What did I lose this time?
5. I did not mean pick a fight with me.
6. Sometimes I argue with people just to be contrary.
4. What did I lose this time?
A turkey pullet you left drowning in it’s own water dish.
With God as my witness, I thought turkeys could swim!
It’s a racist thing. Black turkeys float but white turkeys are too stupid, and sink.