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Can the polarization between Democrats and Republicans in the U.S. be reversed?
#1
Can the polarization between Democrats and Republicans in the U.S. be reversed?
I'm reading the book "How Democracies Die," and it points out that laws and constitutions by themselves are not sufficient to safeguard democracy and rule of law, that these institutions depend upon the adherence to certain unwritten laws that help keep things running smoothly and orderly. One of these unwritten laws is that it's okay for the other guy to win, that our opponents on the other side of the aisle are not a life or death threat to our existence, that life will go on if they get their way, and that we eventually will get ours, and that is just fine. The polarization of politics in this country appears to be undermining that unwritten rule. The more we view the other side as a threat to democracy and the country, the more we are likely to view winning at all costs as acceptable. Viewing things in this way, we engage in unfair ways of achieving our victories. A common example is gerrymandering. It's frequently reported that Republicans have engaged in gerrymandering, but it's overlooked that Democrats do the same thing. The only reason Republican gerrymandering draws so much attention is because far more state legislatures lie in the hands of Republicans than Democrats, so Republicans have more opportunities to engage in it. But once both sides have committed to unfair means of winning, defeating the opponent by equally unfair means becomes justifiable and the abandonment of fair and proper means of political action becomes more common. When that becomes more common, each side begins to see each other as more of a threat because of their norm-breaking behavior, leading to even less fair behavior to prevent their achieving power. Thus an abandonment of tolerance for the opposing parties views becomes a death spiral in which more and more extremes of opposing them are justified because they are using more and more extreme methods of gaining power.

Polarization leads to intolerance. Intolerance leads to defections from the norm. Defection from the norm leads to more polarization.

How can the death spiral that occurs when polarization and intolerance become the norm be averted? Can it be averted?
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#2
RE: Can the polarization between Democrats and Republicans in the U.S. be reversed?
(December 1, 2018 at 9:29 pm)Jörmungandr Wrote: I'm reading the book "How Democracies Die," and it points out that laws and constitutions by themselves are not sufficient to safeguard democracy and rule of law, that these institutions depend upon the adherence to certain unwritten laws that help keep things running smoothly and orderly.  One of these unwritten laws is that it's okay for the other guy to win, that our opponents on the other side of the aisle are not a life or death threat to our existence, that life will go on if they get their way, and that we eventually will get ours, and that is just fine.  The polarization of politics in this country appears to be undermining that unwritten rule.  The more we view the other side as a threat to democracy and the country, the more we are likely to view winning at all costs as acceptable.  Viewing things in this way, we engage in unfair ways of achieving our victories.  A common example is gerrymandering.  It's frequently reported that Republicans have engaged in gerrymandering, but it's overlooked that Democrats do the same thing.  The only reason Republican gerrymandering draws so much attention is because far more state legislatures lie in the hands of Republicans than Democrats, so Republicans have more opportunities to engage in it.  But once both sides have committed to unfair means of winning, defeating the opponent by equally unfair means becomes justifiable and the abandonment of fair and proper means of political action becomes more common.  When that becomes more common, each side begins to see each other as more of a threat because of their norm-breaking behavior, leading to even less fair behavior to prevent their achieving power.  Thus an abandonment of tolerance for the opposing parties views becomes a death spiral in which more and more extremes of opposing them are justified because they are using more and more extreme methods of gaining power.

Polarization leads to intolerance.  Intolerance leads to defections from the norm.  Defection from the norm leads to more polarization.

How can the death spiral that occurs when polarization and intolerance become the norm be averted?  Can it be averted?


I think America has already reached the stage where, even though there is still an occasional inclination to act out a farce unity out of tradition and seemliness, the fundamentally irreconcilable nature of the partisan divide could only be mended under the threat of death, literally.

Yes.  But  I suspect it will require some event or collection of events which will put the fear of violent Civil War into the hearts of the partisans.   The nature Of this Civil War threat must contain a implication of the complete social  and economic, And most importantly personal  extinction of the most vehemently polarized part of the partisans.

I suspect there is greater chance that the United States will break up to avoid civil war than it will find the threat of civil war an impetus to tamp down its internal conflicts.
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#3
RE: Can the polarization between Democrats and Republicans in the U.S. be reversed?
I don't think so.  As the country slides further down the shitter the republicunts will just get crazier.
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#4
RE: Can the polarization between Democrats and Republicans in the U.S. be reversed?
The polarization here is definitely extreme. To me, it started with the election of Bill Clinton in 1992. That was the first time I voted Democrat, having voted for Reagan twice and once for the elder Bush.

I remember being astounded at all of the people treating it as the end of the world. It was particularly puzzling being that Bill was a centrist - not a far-left liberal.

I found myself on the other side when we elected Bush Lite twice. He wasn't particularly far to the right - just such a fucking dumb-ass.

Obama was certainly more liberal than Clinton but he wasn't a weakling on the world stage as Jimmy Carter had been. As John McCain famously said, he was a good, decent man who simply had a difference of opinion with Republicans. Indeed, he was a 100% scandal-free President. How could you say bad things against this good man, aside from political differences?

Now, we have a President who is something out of apocalyptic fiction. How to fuck could something like this happen?

I don't know. Maybe we are actually heading toward another civil war.

We had a tremendously chaotic clash of culture here in the 1960s which eventually equalized and settled out in the 1970s which led into the mellow 1980s. The difference is that in the 1960s, the social left rose up. They called for progress and eventually won over the majority. Now, we have the Jurassic right rising up, determined to lead us back to the stone ages. I really don't think that's going to work out. We on the left are NOT going to go back there!

It probably won't quite lead to civil war but I do believe it could get seriously ugly before it's through.
Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I'm not sure about the former.

Albert Einstein
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#5
RE: Can the polarization between Democrats and Republicans in the U.S. be reversed?
I see the polarization starting with Nixon and his Moral Majority bullshit.  That's exactly the kind of shit that the jesus freaks eat up.  "Yeah....we're MORAL.  Now let's go napalm kids in Vietnam cuz jesus said....."
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#6
RE: Can the polarization between Democrats and Republicans in the U.S. be reversed?
(December 1, 2018 at 10:01 pm)Minimalist Wrote: I don't think so.  As the country slides further down the shitter the republicunts will just get crazier.
Yeah, if the debt ceiling crises of 2011 and 2013 are any indication, when faced with the prospect of the American Economy going bankrupt, they fought tooth and nail to ensure it happened, at least until mere hours before we were to hit the ceiling. It will likely take an alarmingly close brush with a massive disaster for them to compromise, and even then, it will only happen just before the shit totally hits the fan, and after it does, they’re just going to keep on with that they were doing and learn...





Honestly, at this point, a second civil war seems like the next logical step from how shitty the political scene is now. Or at least a second Confederacy. And this time around, the leaders of the new Confederacy aren’t even going to have the sort of valor or military savviness the old Confederates had going for them. If the Proud Boys are any indication, it’d be like going from Erwin Rommel to Oskar Dirlewanger.
Comparing the Universal Oneness of All Life to Yo Mama since 2010.

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I was born with the gift of laughter and a sense the world is mad.
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#7
RE: Can the polarization between Democrats and Republicans in the U.S. be reversed?
I think it all started when Newt Gingrich wrote the new playbook for the GOP, an ugly new brand of divisive politics where you called liberals traitors who hate America at every opportunity. Then came Karl Rove and his 50+1 strategy and "wedge issues". Trump and his style of politics is the predictable conclusion.
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#8
RE: Can the polarization between Democrats and Republicans in the U.S. be reversed?
Oh, my goodness. I see that the elder Bush has passed.

Here are Bill Clinton's words regatding him.

Boy, what perfect timing for this thread.
Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I'm not sure about the former.

Albert Einstein
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#9
RE: Can the polarization between Democrats and Republicans in the U.S. be reversed?
(December 1, 2018 at 11:21 pm)Minimalist Wrote: I see the polarization starting with Nixon and his Moral Majority bullshit.  That's exactly the kind of shit that the jesus freaks eat up.  "Yeah....we're MORAL.  Now let's go napalm kids in Vietnam cuz jesus said....."

I always thought that the Moral Majority was more of a reaction to Nixon (trying to give the Republican Party a new sense of integrity after it turned out Nixon was a crook), especially with Jerry Falwell rising to prominence in the late 1970s, especially after he got pissed at BJU losing its tax exemption in 1974.

That said, even though Nam wasn’t a target, they always did seem to cream their pants at the prospect of another war.
Comparing the Universal Oneness of All Life to Yo Mama since 2010.

[Image: harmlesskitchen.png]

I was born with the gift of laughter and a sense the world is mad.
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#10
RE: Can the polarization between Democrats and Republicans in the U.S. be reversed?
https://www.nytimes.com/2011/11/03/opini...ority.html

Quote:In 1970, Nixon’s chief of staff, H. R. Haldeman, asked the president’s political team to develop “a plan to mobilize the Silent Majority.” The White House operative Charles Colson incorporated “Silent Majority Inc.” in all 50 states and organized rallies through fake grass-roots organizations like Americans for Winning the Peace and the Honor America Committee. The administration worked on an internal “blue-collar strategy” to finesse the economic liberalism and cultural conservatism of white working-class Democrats viewed as potential Republican voters. The White House even orchestrated the formation of a National Black Silent Majority Committee to represent African-Americans being “shouted down by a handful of militants.”
The "Silent Majority" were the good warmongers who didn't want to see America lose.  Well.  We did lose.  But the divisiveness had been unleashed which is what happens when you tell one group they are good and the other group that they suck.  And it never went away.

It's all the same shit, and with Vietnam lost it morphed into the anti-abortion crowd.  But at the bottom it remains slimy motherfuckers who want to tell everyone else how to live.
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