Identity Politics = Tribal Warfare


Chris Cilizza, via Lulu:

America’s new cycle of partisan hatred

After a political rally this week in which Democrats criticized the Obama administration for siding with Republicans on trade, I had a talk about the future of the party with Rep. Alan Grayson, a Florida Democrat who is one of the most ferocious partisans in the House.

It does no good, he told me, for Democrats to “pretend to be Republican” or to “run corporate campaigns and try to pretend that they’re going to govern from the middle.” His rationale: There is no middle.


It has long been agreed that race is the deepest divide in American society. But that is no longer true, say Shanto Iyengar and Sean Westwood, the academics who led the study. Using a variety of social science methods (for example, having study participants review résumés of people that make both their race and party affiliation clear), they document that “the level of partisan animus in the American public exceeds racial hostility.”

Americans now discriminate more on the basis of party than on race, gender or any of the other divides we typically think of — and that discrimination extends beyond politics into personal relationships and non-political behaviors. Americans increasingly live in neighborhoods with like-minded partisans, marry fellow partisans and disapprove of their children marrying mates from the other party, and they are more likely to choose partners based on partisanship than physical or personality attributes.

“Unlike race, gender and other social divides where group-related attitudes and behaviors are constrained by social norms, there are no corresponding pressures to temper disapproval of political opponents,” they conclude. “If anything, the rhetoric and actions of political leaders demonstrate that hostility directed at the opposition is acceptable, even appropriate. Partisans therefore feel free to express animus and engage in discriminatory behavior toward opposing partisans.”

Up to and through the early 1980s, the average American had a neutral view of opposing partisans. But since then, “partisans have come to dislike the opposition and like co-partisans dramatically more,” Westwood told me. Favorable feelings toward partisans on the other side have dropped by 10 percentage points — going from tepid on what social scientists call a “feeling thermometer” to being “clearly in the cold.”

This hyper-partisanship has occurred even though fewer people identify with the actual parties. The vast majority of self-described independents actually lean toward one party or the other, and they are often even more partisan in their views than those who identify themselves with a party.

Also of note is that the partisan polarization occurs even though Americans aren’t all that split on policies or ideology. Their partisanship is more tribal than anything — the result of an ill-informed electorate. “In order to have an understanding of the ideology of your party and the opposing party you have to have a lot of information,” and “that’s something that just doesn’t happen for the majority of the electorate,” said Westwood. “However, most people understand their side is good and the opposing side is bad, so it’s much easier for them to form these emotional opinions of political parties.”

This leads to a grim conclusion: The problem with politics isn’t Washington but the electorate. Members of Congress, most of whom come from safely gerrymandered districts, are behaving in a perfectly rational way when they avoid cooperation with the other party and instead try to build support within their own tribe.

Elected officials and professional partisans then reinforce the tribal tendency in the electorate with overheated rhetoric, perpetual campaigns, negative ads and increasingly partisan media outlets. “The individuals who hold more hostility are then given the green light to hold these more hostile positions,” Westwood explained.

It’s the damn electorate. What a bunch of riffraff. They never should have been allowed to vote. Democracy is just a fancy version of mob rule. We can’t blame our leaders or the media. They are just doing their jobs, inciting and agitating.


I imagine the courtiers of Louis XVI said similar things about the French mobs.

From “I Can tolerate Anything Except The Outgroup” by Scott Alexander:

The worst reaction I’ve ever gotten to a blog post was when I wrote about the death of Osama bin Laden. I’ve written all sorts of stuff about race and gender and politics and whatever, but that was the worst.

I didn’t come out and say I was happy he was dead. But some people interpreted it that way, and there followed a bunch of comments and emails and Facebook messages about how could I possibly be happy about the death of another human being, even if he was a bad person? Everyone, even Osama, is a human being, and we should never rejoice in the death of a fellow man. One commenter came out and said:

I’m surprised at your reaction. As far as people I casually stalk on the internet (ie, LJ and Facebook), you are the first out of the “intelligent, reasoned and thoughtful” group to be uncomplicatedly happy about this development and not to be, say, disgusted at the reactions of the other 90% or so.

This commenter was right. Of the “intelligent, reasoned, and thoughtful” people I knew, the overwhelming emotion was conspicuous disgust that other people could be happy about his death. I hastily backtracked and said I wasn’t happy per se, just surprised and relieved that all of this was finally behind us.

And I genuinely believed that day that I had found some unexpected good in people – that everyone I knew was so humane and compassionate that they were unable to rejoice even in the death of someone who hated them and everything they stood for.

Then a few years later, Margaret Thatcher died. And on my Facebook wall – made of these same “intelligent, reasoned, and thoughtful” people – the most common response was to quote some portion of the song “Ding Dong, The Witch Is Dead”. Another popular response was to link the videos of British people spontaneously throwing parties in the street, with comments like “I wish I was there so I could join in”. From this exact same group of people, not a single expression of disgust or a “c’mon, guys, we’re all human beings here.”

I gently pointed this out at the time, and mostly got a bunch of “yeah, so what?”, combined with links to an article claiming that “the demand for respectful silence in the wake of a public figure’s death is not just misguided but dangerous”.

And that was when something clicked for me.

You can talk all you want about Islamophobia, but my friend’s “intelligent, reasoned, and thoughtful people” – her name for the Blue Tribe – can’t get together enough energy to really hate Osama, let alone Muslims in general. We understand that what he did was bad, but it didn’t anger us personally. When he died, we were able to very rationally apply our better nature and our Far Mode beliefs about how it’s never right to be happy about anyone else’s death.

On the other hand, that same group absolutely loathed Thatcher. Most of us (though not all) can agree, if the question is posed explicitly, that Osama was a worse person than Thatcher. But in terms of actual gut feeling? Osama provokes a snap judgment of “flawed human being”, Thatcher a snap judgment of “scum”.

I started this essay by pointing out that, despite what geographical and cultural distance would suggest, the Nazis’ outgroup was not the vastly different Japanese, but the almost-identical German Jews.

And my hypothesis, stated plainly, is that if you’re part of the Blue Tribe, then your outgroup isn’t al-Qaeda, or Muslims, or blacks, or gays, or transpeople, or Jews, or atheists – it’s the Red Tribe.

America used to be a unique place where the old tribal loyalties and enmities were forgotten and a new common identity was forged. It was called the “melting pot” and even though it wasn’t perfect it created an entirely new nation.

Then along came identity politics. Identity politics (aka “multiculturalism”) focuses on how we are different rather than alike. It divides us into groups and pits those groups against each other for the benefit of the people in charge.

There are places on this planet where people are carrying grudges for stuff that happened before Christopher Columbus was born. Do we really want America to become like that?

Posted in Uncategorized | 97 Comments

WTF Friday Facepalm



Obama: Equal pay for first ladies too

President Barack Obama used anecdotal evidence of his female-dominated household to connect with women during a town hall Wednesday, adding that “there is clearly not equal pay in the White House.”

“Let me say, Michelle would point out that first ladies get paid nothing. So there is clearly not equal pay in the White House, when it comes to her and me,” the President said to the invitation-only audience gathered in Charlotte.

“But before we were in the White House, I wanted to make sure Michelle got paid as much as she could … If she had a bigger paycheck, then that made us able to pay the bills,” Obama said.

They floated this idea six and one-half years ago back when Obama was PEOTUS but it didn’t come directly from his mouth and it got dropped like a hot potato when the reaction from the non-Koolaid drinking public was universally negative. First Lady is not a job, it’s a perk. Even if it was a job I wouldn’t hire her to do it.

As for her last job, that was the one at the University of Chicago Medical Center where she got paid a lot of money to dump poor patients into the street. She got hired when he was a state senator, got a big raise and a promotion when he was elected to the US Senate, worked part time making over $100,000 a year while he ran for POTUS, then when she finally quit they eliminated the position completely.

As for equal pay at the White House:

The White House has not narrowed the gap between the average pay of male and female employees since President Obama’s first year in office, according to a Washington Post analysis of new salary data.

The average male White House employee currently earns about $88,600, while the average female White House employee earns about $78,400, according to White House data released Tuesday. That is a gap of 13 percent.

In 2009, male employees made an average of about $82,000, compared to an average of $72,700 earned by female employees — also a 13 percent wage gap.

Remember when Michelle said “. . . if you can’t run your own house, you certainly can’t run the White House”?


Posted in Uncategorized | 114 Comments

The Hillary Mulligan

Hillary Clinton today

Elliesmom made this comment yesterday:

So on another topic – I’ve been doing a blogaround visiting some of the blogs I used to frequent in 2008. A lot of them have closed the shutters, but a lot of them are still in business. I don’t know if I’m surprised or disappointed that many of them are acting like the last six years have never happened. Like they have Hillary’s reset button. No questions about her tenure at the State Department. No questions about the Clinton Foundation. She’s ” their girl” and anyone who questions her qualifications is sexist. Jeralyn’s commenters who support Hillary but still have some questions, and RD’s list of far left demands were actually refreshing. Part of me almost hopes someone slides in and takes the nomination away from her again because I don’t think the wake-up call in 2008 was loud enough. By all means support Hillary if she’s the best choice for you, but not until after you weigh the options.

Some people seem to think that 2016 is gonna be a Hillary Mulligan – a “do over” for both her and her supporters.

It’s not.

Even if Hillary wins it all this time, things will be different. She would be facing a GOP majority in at least one and possibly/probably both houses of Congress. She would be stuck with implementing Obamacare and managing a stagnant economy. Basically by ever single measure the world is worse off today than it was 6 years ago and she would represent Obama’s third term rather than a sea change from the Bush/Cheney years.

I don’t know about you but I’m not ready to make nice with the Democratic party over the things that went on in 2008. I lost my innocence and it ain’t coming back. Supporting Hillary now would validate what they did when it should be repudiated instead.

But this is just not about my butthurt feewings. I could put all that stuff aside if I believed that electing Hillary was the best thing for our country. But I do not believe that. It’s time for a new direction. The Blue Model has failed. We need to start dismantling the federal government and restoring power to the states and the people.

Not all power, but we need to find a proper balance as envisioned by our Founding Fathers. That includes restoring the checks and balances between the three branches of government. The Executive branch needs to be brought to heel.

Last but not least, Hillary has exposed herself as someone who is unfit to hold the reins of power. On a matter of importance she lied to the American people. She set herself above the law. She was incompetent in the performance of her duties.

If Hillary is defeated then her remaining supporters will be left dreaming wistfully of what might have been. But is she is elected it will be an extension of the current nightmare.

Just say “NO” to the Hillary Mulligan.

Posted in Hillary Clinton, Uncategorized | Tagged | 97 Comments



Well, almost. Sometime this morning we will reach the 3 million hit mark. Not bad for a shitty little blog run by a petulant clown.

But I can’t take all the credit. This is a (small) online community. Without all of you hanging around and chatting with each other, I’d still be working on 100,000 hits.

Truthfully, without you I wouldn’t be here either.

So thank you all, my friends.


Posted in Uncategorized | 90 Comments




Transgender Man Could Be Men’s Health’s Next ‘Ultimate Guy’

If he maintains his significant lead Men’s Health’s “Ultimate Guy Search,” 27-year-old Aydian Dowling could be the magazine’s first transgender cover model. He spoke with People about the “outpouring of encouragement” he’s received since entering the competition.

“It’s phenomenal, the amount of support it’s gotten – how many people have re-Tweeted and re-blogged and re-posted and liked and shared and commented and voted…I think I would have laughed if someone said that in five years I was going to be in a competition to be on the cover of Men’s Health magazine.”

Dowling currently has nearly three times the votes of the contestant in second place, and is excited to represent the transgender community in such a high-profile contest.

Satire is indeed dead.


Posted in Uncategorized | 23 Comments

Happy Tax Day!


I am almost positive that the above graphic is horribly racist but I still lol’ed. This is an open thread.

Posted in Uncategorized | 63 Comments

Babies Are Totes Inconvenient And Stuff

From the raw sewage that is called Salon:

“Girls” star Jemima Kirke shares her heart-rending abortion story: “I had to empty my checking account”

It was early in the series that HBO’s “Girls” included abortion as a storyline, when Jemima Kirke’s character, Jessa, believed she was pregnant and decided to terminate. The character never ends up going in for the “procedure” because she gets her period before she heads to the clinic, but it didn’t exactly play out that way in real life for Kirke. As the actress has said publicly before, she had an abortion when she found herself unexpectedly pregnant as a college student — and there’s a reason she’s always been so open about it.

In a new video for the Center for Reproductive Rights, Kirke shares the details of her abortion experience to raise awareness about both the commonality of the procedure and the obstacles many women face to accessing the care they need. The “Girls” star and mother of three says that when she became pregnant in 2007, her life “was not conducive to raising a happy, healthy child.” Nor was it particularly conducive to spending hundreds of dollars for an abortion, which Kirke had to pay for herself.

“Because I couldn’t tell my mother that I was pregnant, I had to pay for it out of pocket,” Kirke says in the video. “I did have to empty my checking account, what I had in there, and get some from my boyfriend.”

The actress also adds that her abortion was only affordable to her once she cut out basic, though optional, aspects of the procedure — specifically, full sedation. “Anesthesia wasn’t that much more, but when you’re scrounging for however many hundreds of dollars, it is a lot,” Kirke says. “I just didn’t have it.”

Her experience echoes that of countless other women who have come forward with their abortion stories, and who have been forced to overcome numerous additional obstacles to care that often put them in positions of extreme financial hardship. As Kirke puts it, it’s not all about choice, but also about accessibility. “We think we are able to do whatever we want,” she says, “but then there are these little hoops we have to jump through to get them.”

Wow, what a terrible hardship. I can’t even begin to imagine the suffering she went thru. Lucky for her that abortion is legal. We wouldn’t want her to be punished with a child.

Babies are totes inconvenient and stuff.

God's punishment for fornicators

God’s punishment for fornicators

Posted in Uncategorized | 80 Comments