Political Polarization: Are YOU a threat to the nation’s well-being?

This entry is part 1 of 5 in the series Political Polarization
Pew 2014 report on growing political polarization

CLICK ON this chart to read Pew’s entire 2014 report on increasing political polarization.

Democrats and Republicans are more ideologically divided in 2014 than they were in 2004 or 1994, according to a just-released Pew Research Center report. And, whether you are a Republican or a Democrat—some of your fellow Americans believe you are a threat to the nation’s well-being.

Twenty years ago, the differences between Democrats and Republicans weren’t that great. Now, the gulf is vast and deep. As Pew analysts put it, “Today 92% of Republicans are to the right of the median Democrat, and 94% of Democrats are to the left of the median Republican.” (Here’s an interactive graphic within Pew’s overall report that displays the growth of the chasm.)

Today, 38% of Democrats have an unfavorable view of Republicans—more than double the figure in 1994 when only 16% felt that way. Just over half of Democrats (54%) who are “consistently liberal” have a very unfavorable view of the GOP.

Republicans’ antipathy toward Democrats is even sharper. Forty-three percent of Republicans have an unfavorable view of Democrats, up from only 17% in 1994. And, almost three-quarters of “consistently conservative” Republicans (72%) have a very negative view of Democrats.

Republican dislike of Democrats is so intense that over one-third (36%) say that Democrat policies “are so misguided that they threaten the nation’s well-being,” according to the report. Two-thirds (66%) of “consistently conservative” Republicans feel the same way.

But some Democrats also see the other party as a threat to the nation. Just over one quarter (27%) of Democrats view the Republican Party as a threat to the well-being of the nation, with 50% of those who are “consistently liberal” say the same thing.

Do you believe Democrats or Republicans are threats to the nation’s well-being?

Does deepening political polarization mean more gridlock is inevitable?

Are YOU a threat to the nation’s well-being?

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Categories: Critical Patriotism

Political Polarization: Walkable Communities versus More Room?

This entry is part 2 of 5 in the series Political Polarization
PEW 2014 research on the kinds of communities Americans prefer

CLICK on this graphic to read the entire Pew report.

What kind of community would you prefer to live in? Here are two choices. Which is the kind of place where you would like to live?

MORE ROOM “The houses are larger and farther apart, but schools, stores and restaurants are several miles away.”

WALKABLE COMMUNITIES “The houses are smaller and closer to each other, but schools, stores and restaurants are within walking distance.”

Pew surveyors posed this choice in their new study of ideological polarization. They found that different Americans have different preferences—and that these preferences vary by political ideology.

Americans who are “consistently conservative” overwhelmingly prefer houses that are larger and farther apart, with amenities several miles away. In fact, 75% of the consistently conservative prefer this living arrangement.

At the other end of the political spectrum, Americans who are “consistently liberal” strongly prefer walkable communities—77% make this choice.

In between these two extremes, preferences are correlated with political ideology. Americans who say their political views are mixed are split between the two living arrangements. As you get more liberal, your choices lean towards walkable communities. As you get more conservative, your choices tend toward more room.

Do you prefer a walkable community?

Or, is more room at the top of your first choice?

What’s the explanation of the correlation of political ideology and community preferences?

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Categories: Critical Patriotism

Political Polarization: Should Republicans and Democrats avoid intermarriage?

This entry is part 3 of 5 in the series Political Polarization
James Carville and Mary Matalin at Tulane University

CAN YOU IDENTIFY THE COUPLE? If you’re a loyal Republican, you may know long-time GOP consultant Mary Matalin and may guess that she’s married to the gentleman in the suit and tie. If you’re a Democrat, you may recognize “the Ragin’ Cajun,” James Carville, who actually is Matalin’s long-time spouse. They appeared together at Tulane University with other speakers.

How would you feel if your son or daughter (or another close family member) married a liberal Democrat? How about a Tea Party Republican? Would you be happy either way, or would one of these choices make you miserable?

Politics, religion, and family often don’t mix. “There are three things I have learned never to discuss with people,” said the sage Charles Schulz, speaking through Linus, “religion, politics, and the Great Pumpkin.”

If so, would it be better if Republicans and Democrats just avoided marrying one another?

For some Americans, the answer is yes, according to Pew’s just-released report on political polarization.

Three of ten (30%) consistently conservative Republicans said they would be unhappy if a Democrat married an immediate family member. And, 15% of those who are mostly conservative feel the same way.

Almost one quarter (23%) of consistently liberal Democrats would be unhappy if a Republican married an immediate family member, with an additional 8% of those who are mostly liberal feeling the same way.

Despite these antipathies, the majority of Democrats and Republicans report that it wouldn’t make them unhappy if a close family member married someone of the opposite political persuasion.

Should Republicans and Democrats avoid intermarriage?

How would you feel if a close family member married a Republican—or a Democrat?

Are there considerations other than political views that matter more?

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Categories: Critical Patriotism

Political Polarization: Where are you headed? San Mateo or Fort Worth?

This entry is part 4 of 5 in the series Political Polarization

San Mateo California and Fort Worth TexasDo your friends have the same political views as you do? Do you live in a place where most people have the same political views?

Conservatives and liberals are more likely to discuss politics on a daily or weekly basis, compared to people with mixed political views. For many, however, these discussions don’t take place across the political divide.

Almost two-thirds of all consistently conservative Republicans say that most of their close friends share their political views, according to the new Pew report on political polarization. And, half of all consistently conservative Republicans also say that it’s important for them to live in a place where most people share their political views.

Democrats are less likely to say that their close friends share their political views, but half of all consistently liberal Democrats say that is the case. About one-third of consistently liberal Democrats also say that it’s important for them to live in a place where most people share their political views.

The result is that many Americans live in an “ideological echo chamber” in which their own views are reinforced by their friends and neighbors. This is especially true for consistently conservative Republicans.

Some Americans even pick retirement locations based on political compatibility. Democrats may be more likely to retire in San Mateo, CA, while Republicans might be more likely to retire in Fort Worth, TX.

Civil dialogue across the political divided is possible, as I documented in the Belfast Dialogue that took place in Maine earlier this year. I wrote about this on OurValues.org, with a longer piece in Sojourners.

The problem is that you can’t have a civil dialogue across the political divide if all your friends and neighbors have the same political beliefs that you do.

Do most of your close friends share your political views?

How important is it for you to live in a place where most people share your political views?

Do you think civil dialogue across political lines is possible? Desirable?

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Categories: Critical Patriotism

Political Polarization: Does anyone still value compromise?

This entry is part 5 of 5 in the series Political Polarization
How compromise is perceived across the political spectrum PEW 2014

“COMPROMISE” is a complex process with the current levels of polarization in American politics. Pew offers this chart to suggest that common ground may be possible. CLICK THIS GRAPHIC to visit the Pew website and read the entire report.

“If you want to bring an end to long-standing conflict, you have to be prepared to compromise,” said Aung San Suu Kyi, a long-term advocate for democracy in Myanmar (Burma). (ReadTheSpirit’s Interfaith Peacemakers department has an inspiring profile of this Nobel Peace Prize winner.)

Should Republicans and Democrats compromise? Or, are they too far apart to ever find common ground?

This week, we’ve examined political polarization, drawing on a new report by the Pew Research Center. We considered how Democrats and Republicans have moved farther apart on the political spectrum, their beliefs about the types of communities they prefer, the potential of political intermarriage, and how many live in ideological echo chambers that reinforce their views.

Today, we consider whether compromise is possible. Should Republicans and Democrats compromise, as the Nobel laureate indicates? Or, are these American political parties too far apart to ever find common ground?

Obama and Republican leaders often differ when it comes to the most important issues facing the country. Should Obama get everything he wants? Should the Republicans? Or, should they compromise and split things down the middle, so that each side gets some of what they want?

The majority of Americans across the political spectrum prefer compromise, according to the Pew report. For example, 55% of those who are mostly liberal pick the 50/50 compromise, as do 50% of those who are mostly conservatives. Fifty-four percent of Americans who have mixed political views also prefer 50/50.

Only Americans with extreme political views don’t feel the same way. Only a third of those who are consistently conservative pick the 50/50 compromise, well over half (57%) saying that Republicans leaders should get more of what they want. We see the same on the other side. Only a third of those who are consistently liberal want to split things down the middle, with 62% saying that Obama should get more of what he wants.

Except for the political extremists, Americans generally prefer compromise. Do you want our leaders to compromise?

Should Obama get everything he wants?

Should the Republicans get everything they want?

What’s your view about compromise?

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Categories: Critical Patriotism