Thursday, December 18, 2014

'It's Okay to Hate Republicans'

'It Is Okay To Hate Republicans!'
Most people who have read at least one of our musings over the past 5 years (we just passed 1 million pageviews so someone must be reading them and we thank you) know that we love a good, spirited debate as long as A) facts are used; B) verifiable facts are used well; C) ad hominem attacks are not used (because they are childish and show a lack of confidence in their argument) and D) the debate and tone remain civil.

We also like to see 'balance'. No one side is 100% right all the time nor are they wrong 100% of the time. Political advocacy lends itself to amplification of the 'truth' as the speaker sees it; it also lends itself to selective omission of pertinent facts that might contradict those treasured 'truths' as seen through the eyes of a partisan.

We saw something that caught our eye yesterday mainly due to its abject honesty. A University of Michigan professor, Susan J. Douglas, penned an article (see below) titled 'It's Okay To Hate Republicans'

If you have ever been around or in elective politics, those are strong fighting words when it comes down to it. 'I disagree with Republicans' is a polite way to express displeasure with someone's political opinion.

'I hate Republicans' takes it to a different level.

With that in mind, just for balance, we thought we would take the following piece by Ms. Douglas and use her same words against progressive liberal Democrats just to show how stark a piece might sound had it been written by a conservative academic professor on any public university faculty around the nation, substituting only 'Progressive Liberal Democrat' for 'Republican' to see how it reads.

What is good for the goose is good for the gander, correct?

We are pretty sure that such language does not bode well for civil discourse and ultimate compromise on any issue. It is very hard to feel warmly towards your adversary after having been demeaned in public and called bad names, regardless of which side you are on.

Judge for yourself and then reflect on some of your own language lately and see if you are contributing to an atmosphere of hatred and vitriol or to civil discourse and uplifting dialogue.

It is important to do more of the latter and less of the former.

It’s Okay To Hate Republicans

In our era of polarization, one party is guiltier than the other.
BY SUSAN J. DOUGLAS

(Original Version)

I hate Republicans. I can’t stand the thought of having to spend the next two years watching Mitch McConnell, John Boehner, Ted Cruz, Darrell Issa or any of the legions of other blowhards denying climate change, thwarting immigration reform or championing fetal “personhood.”

This loathing is a relatively recent phenomenon. Back
 in the 1970s, I worked for a Republican, Fred Lippitt, the senate minority leader in Rhode Island, and I loved him. He was a brand of Republican now extinct—a “moderate” who was fiscally conservative but progressive about women’s rights, racial justice and environmental preservation. Had he been closer to my age, I could have contemplated marrying someone like Fred. Today, marrying a Republican is unimaginable to me. And I’m
 not alone. Back in 1960, only 5 
percent of Republicans and 4
 percent of Democrats said they’d
 be “displeased” if their child married someone from the opposite
 party. Today? Forty-nine percent 
of Republicans and 33 percent of
 Democrats would be pissed.

According to a recent study 
by Stanford professor Shanto
 Iyengar and Princeton researcher 
Sean Westwood, such polarization has increased dramatically 
in recent years. What’s noteworthy 
is how entrenched this mutual animus is. It’s fine for me to use the word “hate” when referring to Republicans and for them to use the same word about me, but you would never use the word “hate” when referring to people of color, or women, or gays and lesbians.

And now party identification and hatred shape a whole host of non-political decisions. Iyengar and Westwood asked participants in their study to review the resumés of graduating high school seniors to decide which ones should receive scholarships. Some resumés had cues about party affiliation (say, member of the Young Republicans Club) and some about racial identity (also through extracurricular activities, or via a stereotypical name). Race mattered, but not nearly as much as partisanship. An overwhelming 80 percent of partisans chose the student of their own party. And this held true even if the candidate from the opposite party had better credentials.

How did we come to this pass? Obviously, my tendency is to blame the Republicans more than the Democrats, which may seem biased. But history and psychological research bear me out.

Let’s start with the history. This isn’t like a fight between siblings, where the parent says, “It doesn’t matter who started it.” Yes, it does.

A brief review of Republican rhetoric and strategies since the 1980s shows an escalation of determined vilification (which has been amplified relentlessly on Fox News since 1996). From Spiro Agnew’s attack on intellectuals as an “effete corps of impudent snobs”; to Rush Limbaugh’s hate speech; to the GOP’s endless campaign
to smear the Clintons over Whitewater, then bludgeon Bill over Monica Lewinsky; to the ceaseless denigration of President Obama (“socialist,” “Muslim”), the Republicans have crafted a political identity that rests on a complete repudiation of the idea that the opposing party and its followers have any legitimacy at all.

Why does this work? A series of studies has found that political conservatives tend toward certain psychological characteristics. What are they? Dogmatism, rigidity and intolerance
 of ambiguity; a need to avoid uncertainty; support for authoritarianism; a heightened sense of threat from others; and a personal need for structure. How do these qualities influence political thinking?

According to researchers, the two core dimensions of conservative thought are resistance to change and support for inequality. These, in turn, are core elements of social intolerance. The need for certainty, the need to manage fear of social change, lead to black-and-white thinking and an embrace of stereotypes. Which could certainly lead to a desire to deride those not like you—whether people of color, LGBT people or Democrats. And, especially since the early 1990s, Republican politicians and pundits have been feeding these needs with a single-minded, uncomplicated, good-vs.-evil worldview that vilifies Democrats.

So now we hate them back. And for good reason. Which is too bad. I miss the Fred Lippitts of yore and the civilized discourse and political accomplishments they made possible. And so do millions of totally fed-up Americans.


SUSAN J. DOUGLAS
Susan J. Douglas is a professor of communications at the University of Michigan and an In These Times columnist. Her latest book is Enlightened Sexism: The Seductive Message That Feminism's Work is Done (2010)

________________________________________________________________________________
It’s Okay To Hate Progressive Liberal Democrats
In our era of polarization, one party is guiltier than the other.
BY SOJOURNER BALLANCE

I hate progressive liberal Democrats. I can’t stand the thought of having to spend the next two years watching Barack Obama, Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid or any of the legions of other blowhards opposing policies that would create real jobs and economic growth; thwarting real healthcare reform at its roots or championing 'immediate citizenship' for millions of people who blatantly ignored existing law.

This loathing is a relatively recent phenomenon. Back
 in the 1970s, I worked for a Democrat, Henry 'Scoop' Jackson, the US Senate defense hawk from the State of Washington, and I loved him. He was a brand of democrat now extinct—a “moderate” who was fiscally conservative but socially aware and active about women’s rights, racial justice and environmental preservation. Had he been closer to my age, I could have contemplated marrying a version of Scoop Jackson. Today, marrying a progressive liberal Democrat is unimaginable to me. And I’m
 not alone. Back in 1960, only 5 
percent of Republicans and 4
 percent of Democrats said they’d
 be “displeased” if their child married someone from the opposite
 party. Today? Forty-nine percent 
of Republicans and 33 percent of
 Democrats would be pissed.

According to a recent study 
by Stanford professor Shanto
 Iyengar and Princeton researcher 
Sean Westwood, such polarization has increased dramatically 
in recent years. What’s noteworthy 
is how entrenched this mutual animus is. It’s fine for me to use the word “hate” when referring to Progressive Liberal Democrats and for them to use the same word about me, the Tea Party or social conservatives but you would never use the word “hate” when referring to people of color, or women, or gays and lesbians.

And now party identification and hatred shape a whole host of non-political decisions. Iyengar and Westwood asked participants in their study to review the resumés of graduating high school seniors to decide which ones should receive scholarships. Some resumés had cues about party affiliation (say, member of the Young Republicans Club) and some about racial identity (also through extracurricular activities, or via a stereotypical name). Race mattered, but not nearly as much as partisanship. An overwhelming 80 percent of partisans chose the student of their own party. And this held true even if the candidate from the opposite party had better credentials.

How did we come to this pass? Obviously, my tendency is to blame the Progressive Liberal Democrats more than the Republicans, which may seem biased. But history and psychological research bear me out.

Let’s start with the history. This isn’t like a fight between siblings, where the parent says, “It doesn’t matter who started it.” Yes, it does.

A brief review of progressive liberal Democrat rhetoric and strategies since the 1980s shows an escalation of determined vilification (which has been amplified relentlessly on ABC News, NBC news, CBS News and small niche outlets such as MSNBC since 1996). From Harry Reid's relentless attacks on Mitt Romney basically accusing him of sending millions of American job overseas and causing cancer for those who remain; to Chris Matthews/Rachel Maddow/Ed Schulz hate speech; to the Democrats endless campaign 
to smear George W. Bush over the Iraq War when 3000 innocent Americans were slaughtered on 9/1; to the ceaseless denigration of every Republican President since Reagan (“stupid” “right-wing fundamentalist Christian”), the Democrats have crafted a political identity that rests on a complete repudiation of the idea that the opposing party and its followers have any legitimacy at all

Why does this work? A series of studies has found that political liberals tend toward certain psychological characteristics. What are they? Dogmatism, rigidity and intolerance
 of ambiguity; a need to avoid uncertainty; support for authoritarianism; a heightened sense of threat from others; and a personal need for structure. How do these qualities influence political thinking?

According to researchers, the two core dimensions of progressive liberal thought are resistance to following the law and conventional thinking. These, in turn, are core elements of social turmoil. The need for disruption, the need to manage social engineering, lead to black-and-white thinking and an embrace of stereotypes. Which could certainly lead to a desire to deride those not like you—whether people of faith, gun owners or Republicans. And, especially since the early 1990s, progressive liberal Democrat politicians and pundits have been feeding these needs with a single-minded, uncomplicated, good-vs.-evil worldview that vilifies Republicans.

So now we hate them back. And for good reason. Which is too bad. I miss the Scoop Jacksons of yore and the civilized discourse and political accomplishments they made possible. And so do millions of totally fed-up Americans.


SOJOURNER BALLANCE
Professor Ballance is a professor of political science at ASU (Any State University) and a columnist. Her latest book is 'Enlightened Conservatism: It Is Not An Oxymoron' (2010)

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