Monday, August 15, 2011

Pushing the Myth of Divided Americans

A :"News Analysis" from the NYT relies promotes the idea of some political writers that reason Washington is unable to compromise is because the electorate is polarized,
“Americans are self-segregating,” said Bill Bishop, author of “The Big Sort,” a 2008 book that examined, in the words of its subtitle, “why the clustering of like-minded America is tearing us apart.”
I call bullshit because the article and sources studiously ignore the fact that there are more registered independents than ever. The whole article reeks of cherry-picked data. Since we see from political scientists on cable news that they generally act as propagandists for one institutional party or another this is no surprise.

Oh yeah, there was also this gem:
Political clustering is reflected in religious participation and even shopping choices. David Wasserman, of the nonpartisan Cook Political Report, recently calculated that 89 percent of the Whole Foods stores in the United States were in counties carried by Barack Obama in 2008, while 62 percent of Cracker Barrel restaurants were in counties carried by John McCain.
What? I've never been to either and never lived in any place with either one.Most places in America are neither Cambridge,MA or Midland, TX. The concept of a linear left-right political spectrum is a gross simplification at best and the concept of a simple binary spectrum is a fiction. Furthermore, although a system like ours tends to produce two dominant parties, the persistence of modern Republicans and Democrats is due more to gerrymandering and control of ballot access than any hardcore loyalty among the majority of the electorate.

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