Media consumption habits of liberals and conservatives in US
March 10, 2015 9:09 PM   Subscribe

When it comes to getting news about politics and government, liberals and conservatives inhabit different worlds. The project – part of a year-long effort to shed light on political polarization in America – looks at the ways people get information about government and politics in three different settings: the news media, social media and the way people talk about politics with friends and family. In all three areas, the study finds that those with the most consistent ideological views on the left and right have information streams that are distinct from those of individuals with more mixed political views – and very distinct from each other. posted by TheLittlePrince (59 comments total) 32 users marked this as a favorite
 
Would the Onions' Facebook page suffice? Or.
posted by clavdivs at 9:16 PM on March 10, 2015


I've seen this data trumpeted around today as "FOX news the country's most trusted news source." Which proves something about something.
posted by Joey Michaels at 9:21 PM on March 10, 2015 [12 favorites]


Wait wait… "consistent conservatives" don't trust more than distrust The Economist? Huh.
posted by ob1quixote at 9:53 PM on March 10, 2015 [3 favorites]


Consistent Liberals More Likely to Block Others Because of Politics

Purely anecdatal, but the people I know on fb who talk about blocking people are almost all women and/or people of color and/or lgbtq, and the people they've blocked seem to be people who can't keep from saying racist/sexist/-phobic bullshit.
posted by rtha at 9:58 PM on March 10, 2015 [74 favorites]


One nation, under British journalism...
posted by Apocryphon at 10:03 PM on March 10, 2015


Well, "politics" is just a genteel way of saying "racist/sexist/-phobic bullshit".
posted by oneswellfoop at 10:04 PM on March 10, 2015 [9 favorites]


No news is good news.
posted by Oyéah at 10:22 PM on March 10, 2015 [2 favorites]


ob1quixote: “Wait wait… "consistent conservatives" don't trust more than distrust The Economist? Huh.”
Apocryphon: “One nation, under British journalism...”
Digging deeper I see that of "consistent conservatives , 4% trust, 3% distrust, 24% neither, and 69% had never heard of The Economist. That… doesn't actually make me feel any better.
posted by ob1quixote at 10:33 PM on March 10, 2015 [17 favorites]




Wait, what am I supposed to be surprised about?
posted by Belle O'Cosity at 11:36 PM on March 10, 2015 [1 favorite]


Echo echo echo echo echo. ..
posted by awfurby at 12:17 AM on March 11, 2015 [1 favorite]


They buried the lede here. Apparently, the one thing that unites liberals and conservatives across the board is that they all distrust Buzzfeed.
posted by Sonny Jim at 1:17 AM on March 11, 2015 [13 favorites]


Ahh, that's why it was so refreshing to hear that Sarah Palin read "all of them." (And surely still does, right??)
posted by argonauta at 2:06 AM on March 11, 2015 [3 favorites]


"Digging deeper I see that of 'consistent conservatives', 4% trust, 3% distrust, 24% neither, and 69% had never heard of The Economist. That… doesn't actually make me feel any better."

Your average American conservative wouldn't even consider a British news source in the first place and will assume that being European, it must somehow be liberal by necessity. That's true about BBC, The Guardian, and The Economist. This skews the results for all of these. Also, on balance, The Economist is much more comparable to The New York Times than it is to Fox News. In the British context, it's pretty far to the right. In the American context, it's very centrist. There are some notorious exceptions -- some topics and writers that are farther to the right. But, generally, the bottom line is that of those Americans conservatives who've read The Economist, a large number of them are going to find things in it which seem to them to be awfully liberal.

Note also the weird result of consistent conservatives trusting The Guardian more than they do The New York Times and The Washington Post. That has to be mostly a product of unfamiliarity.

The other weird -- but totally explicable -- result is The Wall Street Journal. Even these days there's still a moderately strong firewall between the news and editorial sides of the paper and that, in combination with it being the premiere source of business news, means that in terms of news (which ends up being mostly business and economic news), it's mainstream and is widely trusted, even among the consistent liberals. I trust its run-of-the-mill news, as I trust The Economist for some things. But the editorial side of the WSJ? They are at least as mendacious as Fox News.

I found it amusing that even consistent liberals trust Slate and, in fact, in terms of the ideology of its readers, is, with New Yorker, the most leftward of all sources. That's ... surprising and disappointing. Slate itself is certainly quite a bit to the right of New Yorker, I'd not put it in the NYT cluster, even, but the one somewhat further to the right that includes the Washington Post.

Some of this demonstrates how poorly informed most American really are. Even those who are the most politically engaged, the consistent conservatives and consistent liberals, and even when the consistent liberals are more widely informed than the consistent conservatives, you can still see a lot of evidence in these results that demonstrate that even these highly engaged minority are not very informed at all. In fact, what you see most strongly with the conservatives -- it's practically shouted from these results -- but also from the liberals is that it's not so much about information and policy as it is about social identity. Almost all of the more puzzling results are explained by people identifying with sources in ways that they think accurately presents their desired social identity. I mean, if I was actively an investor or otherwise deeply involved in finance and business, I'd regularly read Wall Street Journal and The Economist (because I have, in the past) and trust the bits that I know to trust -- but me telling people here that I regularly read (or have regularly read) these will cause people to pigeonhole me as necessarily conservative. And this effect is going to be very large when people are being surveyed about their media consumption -- they're going to be very aware of how they are implicitly presenting their social identities in these answers.

The other thing that really struck me was how lopsided the ten questions are that they use to track ideology. The conservative positions are almost all absolutist, where the liberal oppositions are almost all qualified contradictions of the absolutist conservative position. So while the conservatives think that government is wasteful and inefficient, the liberals think that it "does a better job than people give it credit for". It's amazing and dismaying to me that anyone could think that most of those conservative absolutist positions could be reasonable. But then, contemporary American conservatives are all about the Absolutism. That's their thing.

And, yeah, I agree with others here about the "unfriending" thing with consistent liberals. It's a combination of cultural conservatives saying hateful, bigoted things and that the "consistent conservative" crowd is more homogeneous (as these results show) and so they're much less likely to ever see the kinds of things that would affect them equivalently. There are fewer people among their friends who might say something offensive and, when those people do, it's not actually as equivalently offensive. But good luck getting them to understand this. It's privilege -- they're not used to ever been contradicted at all. If you say "that wasn't nice" they cry censorship and intolerance and so, for them, these results will be seen as validating their belief that the left is intolerant.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 2:42 AM on March 11, 2015 [49 favorites]


In the British context, it's pretty far to the right. In the American context, it's very centrist.

The Economist has been slouching toward the center for years now. It used to be much more muscularly "liberal" in the classic sense.
posted by chavenet at 2:55 AM on March 11, 2015


"The radical centre", as it were.
posted by chavenet at 2:57 AM on March 11, 2015


Purely anecdatal, but the people I know on fb who talk about blocking people are almost all women and/or people of color and/or lgbtq, and the people they've blocked seem to be people who can't keep from saying racist/sexist/-phobic bullshit.

Whereas us white males just defriend people without needing to talk about it. Offensive shit is offensive, even if I'm not the target.
posted by salmacis at 3:14 AM on March 11, 2015


Another thing about FB defriending. If you read the "What's New" section of snopes.com, it's almost exclusively clueless and offensive right-wing nutbaggery. There are almost no left-wing tall tales going round needing to be debunked. Why is this? It's as if some extreme right-wingers are so angry that the world doesn't conform to their twisted vision of what is should look like, that they're prepared to believe anything if it helps reinforce their prejudice. Left-wingers and Right-wingers can both be pretty stupid at times, but it seems only the right-wingers feel the need to impose their stupidity on all their friends.
posted by salmacis at 3:20 AM on March 11, 2015 [20 favorites]


Conservatives Converge Around Fox News as Main Source; No Single Source Dominates on the Left

Well, of course. When reality has a liberal bias, one needs a source one can trust to weave a comforting, if phony, narrative. (Ironic, because Fox's narrative of "Fear everything!" is far from comforting, but the emotions it gins up do tend to impair critical thinking...)

some extreme right-wingers are so angry that the world doesn't conform to their twisted vision of what is should look like

That's the cognitive dissonance of reality's liberal bias setting in. When one's belief is objectively disproven by reality, some reject objective reality and embrace their belief all the more. Eventually one winds up with a crazyfication factor.
posted by Gelatin at 4:04 AM on March 11, 2015 [1 favorite]


I recently reread The Paranoid Style in American Politics. Still the best explanation of the radical right I'm aware of. " We are all sufferers from history, but the paranoid is a double sufferer, since he is afflicted not only by the real world, with the rest of us, but by his fantasies as well." Even success reinforces the paranoia.
posted by postel's law at 4:17 AM on March 11, 2015 [14 favorites]


Hell, these days i should say the mainstream right.
posted by postel's law at 4:19 AM on March 11, 2015 [2 favorites]


It's always amusing when a news source that the right has identified as "liberal" has some kind of misstep and conservative bloggers and commenters say things to the effect of "how do you defend your god now?" They seem to think that I or other people on the left identify with CNN, MSNBC or the NYT in the same way that they identify with FOX and think that it's some great triumph against liberalism when Brian Williams gets fired when the left's reaction is largely a collective shrug.
posted by octothorpe at 4:38 AM on March 11, 2015 [19 favorites]


I'm a socialist atheist and actually a bit pissed off I'm not a special snowflake and fit exactly where they'd expect. Crap, I hate it when I'm the same as all the other socialists. Oh. Wait.
posted by taff at 4:49 AM on March 11, 2015 [1 favorite]


I was expecting The Onion to be somewhere in the middle of that trust scale. They seem to nail the spirit of the truth better than most outlets do the letter of it.

The main takeaway I have though is that ending Fox News would cut the head off the snake.
posted by Foosnark at 6:13 AM on March 11, 2015 [1 favorite]


Consistent Liberals More Likely to Block Others Because of Politics

I actually had someone call me on this once - "why is it that whenever you say something that offends a liberal, they decide they don't want to talk to you any more? At least conservatives are open to conversation." He was saying this in response to my telling him I was bowing out of something, in protest over something he said about Occupy Wall Street.

I totally think that it makes absolute and utter sense to just block racist and sexist jerks in your Facebook feed, but what this guy said still kind of....bugs me, because he's right. Granted, 99% of the time I can tell that it'd be pointless to talk to someone because they're mistaking "open for conversation" to "open for a ONE-SIDED conversation where they try to talk ME out of MY position," but....his words reminded me not to give up on finding the 1%.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:47 AM on March 11, 2015 [2 favorites]


EmpressCallipygos, I block these right-wing teabag types because I can't reason with them. If I refer them to a news source other than Fox--or hell, even Snopes.com--they just claim liberal bias and double down on their own viewpoints.
posted by tippiedog at 6:50 AM on March 11, 2015 [6 favorites]


Let's send the climate-change-denying conservatives to Mars. Then they can warm it up and make it habitable.
posted by Anne Neville at 7:02 AM on March 11, 2015 [1 favorite]


I have actually unfollowed a couple of liberal friends on Facebook because they have too many conservative dickbag commenters on the political stuff they post.


Let's send the climate-change-denying conservatives to Mars. Then they can warm it up and make it habitable.

Kentucky GOP lawmaker defends coal: ‘We all agree’ Mars is the same temperature as Earth
posted by Foosnark at 7:03 AM on March 11, 2015 [3 favorites]


EmpressCallipygos, I block these right-wing teabag types because I can't reason with them.

No, I know - that's why I said "99% of the time I can tell that it'd be pointless".
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:04 AM on March 11, 2015


...they're prepared to believe anything if it helps reinforce their prejudice.

This. Plus it's increasingly clear that many conservatives gravitate towards their own filter bubble and just stay there. They're supported by commercial interests who value that audience and work to make it easier to stay in the comfort of this absolutist world view. Now we've got a nice, tidy voting block who value their tribal associations more than any casual truth the not-conservative media can provide.
posted by sneebler at 7:06 AM on March 11, 2015 [2 favorites]


I totally think that it makes absolute and utter sense to just block racist and sexist jerks in your Facebook feed, but what this guy said still kind of....bugs me, because he's right. Granted, 99% of the time I can tell that it'd be pointless to talk to someone because they're mistaking "open for conversation" to "open for a ONE-SIDED conversation where they try to talk ME out of MY position," but....his words reminded me not to give up on finding the 1%.

I'm there too, and thinking about doing it some more after a really upsetting FB conversation about the Netanyahu speech last week, in which several conservative friends came right out and said that they *wanted* the US to go to war with Iran, because... I don't know, Muslims or something. It was such an infuriating argument that I haven't said anything on FB about this ridiculous Tom Cotton letter, even though I find it even worse than the Netanyahu thing. I just can't handle the stress and hassle of having to defend my opinions against people devoid of reason.

I think it might have something to do with liberals (generally) being more capable of nuance than conservatives. We are capable of empathizing with the other side's viewpoint even when we disagree with it, and so we (I, at least) feel a little guilt at giving up on someone because of a political disagreement. But I feel like I never get that from (most of) my conservative friends - I never see "Well I understand where you're coming from, but..." It's just oversimplifications of complicated matters, and Fox News soundbites. It's frustrating to me to feel like I can't talk about something I feel strongly about on my own Facebook page without getting shouted down.
posted by Ben Trismegistus at 7:20 AM on March 11, 2015


I've actually blocked people whose views coincide almost 100% with mine just because I'm not really looking for a steady diet of random friends' political opinions each and every day. If you're going to post more than one rant per day, I'm probably going to get tired of it. I'm much quicker to block racist and sexist right wing nut jobbery, but I know I've blocked at least two people for just being incessant. This post prompted me to go check out their wall and I'm still feeling good about the decision.
posted by Lame_username at 7:23 AM on March 11, 2015 [4 favorites]


I've muted (not blocked) a few liberal friends on Facebook because their feed was 100% postings of outrage stories and petitions that might be well-intentioned but wears you down after a while.
posted by octothorpe at 7:34 AM on March 11, 2015 [2 favorites]


Yes, the one person that I, a lefty, blocked is a conservative. I tolerated her posts for a year because I was curious to see what the other half was thinking. Then she posted something with the headline 'West Africans Streaming Across Our Southern Border Carrying Ebola'.

Wait! It gets better! I thought, how could there be an article attached to this? What could they possibly say to justify this? So I clicked through and there was indeed an article about how West Africans (infected with Ebola) were going to Venezuala, learning Spanish so they could pass themselves off as Mexican (I kid you not), then going to Mexico and smuggling themselves into the US, where they could carry off their nefarious plan of destroying the US through Ebola!

So I couldn't take it anymore and I blocked her.

I do have uncles who will post occasional conservative snarky comments, but rarely links to news sources or full on rants. I don't engage with them, however irritated I am, because I doubt they care what I have to say anyway.
posted by maggiemaggie at 7:36 AM on March 11, 2015 [2 favorites]


I'm done with false equivalency.

27% of the country is insane. They have been calculatedly lied to and manipulated, and now resemble nothing so much as an apocalyptic religion. They cannot be reasoned with so much as deprogrammed. These people do not experience anything resembling the same reality as me. The elites trying to steer this bulk have apparently scarily successfully learned to engender an almost Pavlovian response on the order of days.

And they are really truly convinced that the rest of the country is literally evil. And our institutions are such that they can just keep throwing sand in the gears forever, until eventually all the gears are stripped.

The base of the Republican party is a cult, carefully tended to with the primary aim of delegitimizing the state in favor of local power structures. Secondarily, they are a sweet sweet income stream. Watch the ads on Fox News and see how many seconds it takes on average before it's an obvious scam. (Gold! Low 'T'!)

The only hope is that this is a one off phenomenon, requiring the rump of the segregation nostalgists, and that once they all die we can go back to "normal" politics.

What I fear, though, is that this is just the first steps of the commodification and Capitalization of politics and voters, and that the only reason this hasn't spread as far on the left is that conservative targeting is easier and simpler, in which case there's no reason to expect this to remain isolatedish to Republicans, let alone America.

Capitalism, too, seeks a withering away of the state.
posted by PMdixon at 8:00 AM on March 11, 2015 [22 favorites]


For those who, like me, refuse to even read about poll results unless they know precisely what questions were asked and how people were told to select their answers, here is the appendix, which sets forth the questions used to categorize people in this study, as well as the number falling into each category. For 2014, 9% of respondents were "consistently conservative" and 12% were "consistently liberal." Unfortunately, as far as I can see, no explanation is given, either here or in the more detailed account of the sampling methods that follows, of exactly how respondents were asked to choose their answers (e.g., were they asked which statement they agreed with? Which statement was closer to their view?) I would imagine that many thoughtful respondents would agree (or disagree) to some extent with both statements in several of the pairs.

Forgive this interruption. You may now return to discussing how awful conservatives are.
posted by Dolukhanova at 8:09 AM on March 11, 2015 [1 favorite]


There is now in this country in my lifetime a pro torture constituency.
posted by PMdixon at 8:11 AM on March 11, 2015 [4 favorites]


There is now in this country in my lifetime a pro torture constituency.

Well, really, the only reason we remember a time when this basically wasn't true is because The Evil Commie Empire tortured people and we used to define ourselves in opposition to the Evil Commie Empire, which meant that official national ideology had to occasionally unequivocally endorse free speech, just trials, lack of torture, etc. Now that we're defining ourselves in opposition to a semi-imaginary Evil Islamic Other, official politics don't really have to unequivocally endorse anything except Not Beheading Non-Muslims.

Certainly, back before the Cold War you could find plenty of "basically torture is okay, give him the Third Degree" stuff in popular culture - consider the Pinkertons.
posted by Frowner at 8:19 AM on March 11, 2015 [13 favorites]


Dolukhanova .. from the appendix you linked "Individual questions were recoded as follows: “-1” for a liberal response, “+1” for a conservative response, “0” for other"

... I would guess that people were asked to choose between the two options for each question, asked which statement they agreed with basically. Depending on how many of each type they chose, they were classified as liberals or conservatives.

For me the interesting part is the trend over time ... a small drift from slightly conservative to slightly liberal. Although the article says that it doesn't necessarily mean that US is becoming more liberal, but it does provide a strong support for the idea.
posted by TheLittlePrince at 8:26 AM on March 11, 2015


Well, "politics" is just a genteel way of saying "racist/sexist/-phobic bullshit".

So much this. My family are privileged, mostly straight, white, Protestants who get their information from Fox News, talk radio, and email forwards that are either a) insane or b) lies or c) poorly photoshopped images and such. And they have agreed that we won't discuss "politics" at Thanksgiving, but it really isn't politics at all. It's whining about how other people want special privileges (wages that will pay rent, not to be shot and killed by law enforcement, etc.). It feels more like good vs. evil than merely "politics." And if I disagree, I'm accused of talking politics and of being intolerant. It's maddening and I haven't engaged for years because of this.

My grandmother often tries to engage me and says things like, "Well, send me some of your emails! We can have a dialogue!" and that would be nice, except liberals generally don't circulate email forwards. Because they are stupid. The photoshops are so obvious! And the advertising in their media is so clearly aimed towards the gullible and tasteless--"we buy gold," "this amazing milkshake will help you shed pounds," "low testosterone?" And this doesn't raise questions in the minds of people who pride themselves on being smart and/or cutting through the bullshit to say what everyone else is afraid to because political correctness blah blah?
posted by witchen at 8:41 AM on March 11, 2015 [3 favorites]


personally I wish we had a broader representation of views and posts on metafilter. I am very liberal myself but first and foremost I see myself as a human. A human who has a lot in common with other humans, regardless of their politics. A human who is very, very susceptible to inaccurate headlines, grar-worthy news, outrage, and cyber-bulkanization.

One of my favorite things about reddit is how the mods on several default subs do not delete shit posts, but append them with a notice of "title is not supported by article" or "debunked" etc. Or, you go into the comments on any outrage post - conservative or liberal - and the top comment will be something along the lines of "While this is technically true that the senator did not vote for goodbillX, it's because the bill never made it before the floor" or etc.

This has really opened my eyes to how much bullshit our news is. And I see the news we post here on metafilter, and it raises red flags on the back of my neck. I can't prove anything, I don't have time to actively investigate stories, but i worry that we are too insular, too liberal, and too easily enraged.
posted by rebent at 8:43 AM on March 11, 2015 [9 favorites]


Unfortunately, as far as I can see, no explanation is given, either here or in the more detailed account of the sampling methods that follows, of exactly how respondents were asked to choose their answers (e.g., were they asked which statement they agreed with? Which statement was closer to their view?)

Am I misunderstanding what it is you're asking? (Totally possible, I may not be fully caffeinated.) That seems to be here in the topline (PDF), as it should be. For instance, searching for the wasteful and inefficient question, the topline shows that people are asked to choose one that's closer to their position. Toplines can be kind of dull, but they are supposed to contain all the questions asked and how they're asked, and of whom.
posted by rtha at 8:45 AM on March 11, 2015 [1 favorite]


I have spent most of my working life in settings with significant or majority R populations. I ain't getting this from the Internet, this is field work.
posted by PMdixon at 8:46 AM on March 11, 2015


Am I misunderstanding what it is you're asking? (Totally possible, I may not be fully caffeinated.) That seems to be here in the topline (PDF), as it should be. For instance, searching for the wasteful and inefficient question, the topline shows that people are asked to choose one that's closer to their position. Toplines can be kind of dull, but they are supposed to contain all the questions asked and how they're asked, and of whom.
Thank you so much, rtha. That link wouldn't open for me for some reason.
posted by Dolukhanova at 8:48 AM on March 11, 2015


Well, really, the only reason we remember a time when this basically wasn't true is because The Evil Commie Empire tortured people and we used to define ourselves in opposition to the Evil Commie Empire

George Washington forbade his army to use torture.

I am not claiming it didn't happen anyway, then or since, but at least defining itself as anti torture goes back in US history to well before the Cold War.

posted by Gelatin at 9:10 AM on March 11, 2015 [7 favorites]


I keep my FB page private, (whatever, we all now about that delusion.) I don't follow anyone except some obscure family members, who rarely post. I have really good IRL friends who are rabid ideological, or special interest posters and make 10-100 posts per day. So I post into the void and some comments come back, but none of them amen, or right on, or you stupid liberal b-word.

I read a number of things, I miss New Scientist, I am too cheap to buy.

For conservatve attention whores, I can't imagine they enjoy being presented as clowns. All that work Boehner does in the tanning booth, is mocked by the photographic angles of Huffpo, leaving him to look like a villain from a Tim Burton film. Then Mitch McConnell looks like a really lost character, rather than someone from the cast of Lost.

I put the TV set on the curb in 2006. I see TV in a home where I care for a person with needs. All I notice is blonde individuals with dark roots, what a meme. Oh yeah, and with regard to Fox, and right wing radio, the terrorists have won. There's no talking with most of my neighbors. The radio has made them all feel like super hero geniuses, who all want to talk Benghazi, and Obama's low IQ, seriously, earnestly. There is no treatment program for the addiction they have.
posted by Oyéah at 9:10 AM on March 11, 2015 [1 favorite]


Everybody here should read the link with the title, "More proof that Republicans are from Mars and Democrats are from Venus." It shows why Democrats keep getting trounced. If you ask rank-and-file Democrats and Republicans whether they want elected officials from their party to "stick to principles" or "make compromises," you get about 55-60% of the Republicans who insist that their partisan leaders "stick to principles." By contrast, a majority of Democrats want their leadership to make compromises. If politicians in both parties respond to the natural incentives to deliver what their constituents want, then Democrats will lose every time, because they will be engaging in a futile attempt to compromise with an adversary that is fundamentally opposed to compromise. (In addition, when I think about bipartisan politics in this way, Obama's "postpartisan" rhetoric suddenly becomes a lot more understandable as a rational response to political incentives, even if it's still no less maddening to me.)

When you consider how much of the New Deal and the Great Society were made possible through half-a-loaf compromises, it's no wonder that Democrats are more positively disposed to compromise. Unfortunately, when the Republican Party has transformed into a socially homogeneous and ideologically coherent movement for the advancement of right-wing conservatism come hell or high water, what kind of compromise favorable to liberalism is possible? Do you only outlaw 95% of the labor unions instead of all of them? Do you reduce Social Security benefits to cat-food levels instead of getting rid of them altogether?

The liberalism represented by the Democratic Party needs to wake up. The United States is a presidential system, but the Republicans have already attained a level of partisan discipline that is typically only seen in parliamentary systems. The Republicans have already evolved into an ideologically coherent quasi-parliamentary party and, unless Democrats evolve organizationally to become more quasi-parliamentary themselves, they are always going to get outmaneuvered by the GOP. In the multi-party systems of Europe, far-right xenophobes are relegated to fringe parties, but in the American two-party system, they're the Republican base. By contrast, the remnants of the far Left in the United States are either engaged in Naderite third-party cults of personality, hoping to create spoiler effects that "punish" the Democrats in the name of "heightening the contradictions," or engaging in a defeatist withdrawal from electoral politics altogether. (By contrast, the last really successful right-wing third party movement was George Wallace and that did more damage to Hubert Humphrey Democrats than it did to Richard Nixon.) Sometimes, I just wish the Democrats could pull off a "no enemies to the left" strategy (although they came close in the New Deal/Popular Front period) and get some zealots on our side for a change that can counteract the standard National Review/Republican strategy of "no enemies to the right."
posted by jonp72 at 9:15 AM on March 11, 2015 [5 favorites]


Dolukhanova .. from the appendix you linked "Individual questions were recoded as follows: “-1” for a liberal response, “+1” for a conservative response, “0” for other"

... I would guess that people were asked to choose between the two options for each question, asked which statement they agreed with basically. Depending on how many of each type they chose, they were classified as liberals or conservatives.


One unfortunate side effect of ideological scales like this is that "0" is usually designated as "moderate," but there are many ways to add up to zero. For example, if you had 50% extreme liberal responses and 50% extreme conservative responses, you could still be classified as moderate on some scales because all the +1 and -1 scores cancel each other out.

The Monkey Cage blog at the Washington Post has an excellent article on this, The Real Extremists Are American Voters, Not Politicians:

Suppose your uncle believes that the United States should nationalize the health-care system (a very liberal view) and that gay people should be jailed (a very conservative view). And suppose your uncle is represented in Congress by a moderate Republican who supports civil unions (but opposes gay marriage) and who supports helping the poor purchase health insurance (but opposes Obamacare), two positions just right of center.

Your uncle’s views can’t really be described in ideological terms like “center left” or “very conservative.” He has some mix of very liberal and very conservative views, many of them extreme. But if we try to compare your uncle’s views to his congressperson’s positions in abstract, ideological terms, as academics and journalists often do, some plain facts about your uncle and his legislator both become obscured. Since your uncle supports some liberal policies and some conservative policies, we’d call him a “moderate on average.” However, his congressperson’s conservative votes on both Obamacare and gay marriage mean we might call the legislator conservative. We thus might condemn your uncle’s congressperson for being a conservative extremist while celebrating your uncle’s moderation. However, it’s quite clear that your uncle’s views tend to be further outside the mainstream, just not consistently in one direction.

posted by jonp72 at 9:24 AM on March 11, 2015 [4 favorites]


why is it that whenever you say something that offends a liberal, they decide they don't want to talk to you any more? At least conservatives are open to conversation.

Classic bullshit. The conservatives that are being spoken about in this article and thread are not at all open to real conversation and they often say that they are what they are not. No responsibility, no reason, no sense, amazing levels of ignorance, no empathy, incredible levels of paranoia and fear, insanity, and a shit tonne of hatred is not a recipe for open conversation. Cut the mic is the reality, open conversation yet another fantasy.

It's literally like talking to a screaming wall that is either made of marble or is a crumbling white brick wall crying about how the world is going to shit all the while supporting viewpoints that will make it crumble even more.

And this from people who don't want women to be paid equally, want to strip away reproductive rights for women, talk about "legitimate" rape, claim there isn't any real racism anymore, claim that the poor are lazy idiots even though they themselves are often poor, want to deregulate employee rights, deny science when convenient, etc, and so forth. And "liberals" are not willing to have a conversation?

1984 was a great book but in terms of the real world, at least in the States, it went down and continues to go down in a far different way. I can only hope things improve but history says otherwise, what with the insane running countries for most of recorded time.

People who are conservatives and who are reasonable, knowledgeable, not insane, etc. are probably either extremely anonymous right now or are Democrats, because the Democrats aren't really left-wing either, though the current definition of left-wing seems to be people with a less fuck you outlook on life who understand the principals of basic logic and reason.
posted by juiceCake at 9:25 AM on March 11, 2015 [5 favorites]


Yeah well they may be mendacious, but you know what, buddy? They're lying, too!

Some of the loudest and most obnoxious right-wingers that I know - the ones I've ended up de-friending and/or asking not to email me stuff - I wouldn't expect them to have the patience or trust to finish a survey like this. Anything this well-written and exacting has the taint of science, or bureaucracy, or both, and would therefore be the anathema to them. I can easily imagine the first question being "Did my tax dollars go into this crud?"
posted by newdaddy at 9:38 AM on March 11, 2015 [3 favorites]


why is it that whenever you say something that offends a liberal, they decide they don't want to talk to you any more? At least conservatives are open to conversation.

In my experience getting into political arguments on the Internet, I have often seen conservatives define winning an argument not as convincing the other party of the rightness of your views but convincing the other party to give up in frustration. (Liberals are guilty of this too sometimes, but generally if somebody's insisting "But we can make them listen to reason!", they're usually liberal or at least a non-conservative "moderate.") The alleged conservative openness to conversation doesn't count for much if conservatives assume that a political conversation or argument is a game to be won through a long slog of attrition that aims to get the liberal to cry "Uncle!"
posted by jonp72 at 10:14 AM on March 11, 2015 [6 favorites]


I am not claiming it didn't happen anyway, then or since, but at least defining itself as anti torture goes back in US history to well before the Cold War.

Maybe a formulation would be that the acceptability of torture as part of US practice is something that has been uneven and contested, because certainly police torture and torture by private security was acceptable in the 20th century up through the sixties. (I mean, it's de facto accepted now, but no one can come out and say "I think the cops should be able to beat people in custody".)

Although this raises the question of just what torture is and how it's framed. Enslaved people could be tortured and it could be pretty much openly described as torture. Native children at residential schools could be de facto tortured even if it had to be described a bit differently.

I think that a broad and sloppy definition - maybe "systematic physical violence committed against a members of a group [whether "criminals", union organizers, etc] by some official entity [police, school, army]" - would still leave us with the idea that torture has been widely practiced and legitimated through much of US history, and that the times when it was not both practiced and legitimated were pretty few. (Obviously, there are a lot of ongoing torture-like practices that are widespread and legitimated - violence against women, for example) but I think it's worthwhile to be able to talk specifically about things that are the formally accepted practice of an organization.
posted by Frowner at 10:59 AM on March 11, 2015


The reason conservatives seem open to real conversation is because they are talking only to people like themselves.
posted by TheLittlePrince at 11:18 AM on March 11, 2015


Kentucky GOP lawmaker defends coal: ‘We all agree’ Mars is the same temperature as Earth

Good to see that Dan Quayle is keeping himself occupied now that he's not Vice President any more!

Mars is essentially in the same orbit... Mars is somewhat the same distance from the Sun, which is very important. We have seen pictures where there are canals, we believe, and water. If there is water, that means there is oxygen. If oxygen, that means we can breathe.
-Dan Quayle, 1989
posted by Anne Neville at 11:42 AM on March 11, 2015 [3 favorites]


Maybe a formulation would be that the acceptability of torture as part of US practice is something that has been uneven and contested, because certainly police torture and torture by private security was acceptable in the 20th century up through the sixties.

We agree that the US has failed to adhere to this ideal throughout its history. My point is that opposition to torture was not some newfangled invention of the Cold War.
posted by Gelatin at 1:14 PM on March 11, 2015


Maybe we're talking slightly at cross-purposes here.

I think - and probably did not say clearly - that what is interesting is when there's some kind of broad national opposition to torture that is clearly articulated versus when there is a clearly articulated support of torture, particularly in terms of "we define ourselves as a nation by [feeling this way about torture]". Obviously there's no point at which every single person and institution is going to be on board with whatever the broad consensus is, but I think there are historical moments where there is a broad consensus one way or the other, and the shift is interesting.

So there's a definite shift, I would argue, between pre-Cold War ideas about civic life (Pinkertons, Third Degree - barbaric, perhaps, but normalized) and Cold War ideas, where there's this very specific opposition between US practices and Soviet practices around prisons, torture and trials. (Again, it's not that no one ever talked about this stuff - vide Goldman's or Gide's books about the USSR - but it becomes, I think, a much stronger cultural motif.) Certainly, when I was growing up in the eighties it was very clear (since there was lots of 70s stuff still around) that in both the 70s and the 80s, opposition to torture was specifically framed as being opposition to totalitarianism and the Soviets. I assume based on mumble mumble loose familiarity with, like, George Kennan and stuff that this is also true of the sixties.

What I was trying to get at was the question of acceptability more than the question of practice, because I am still startled by the immediate post-Soviet collapse of all the rhetoric about democracy and fairness that was drilled into me as a child. I grew up in an exceptionally conservative town where the Cold War was very visible and the post-Soviet paradigm shift happened just as I was basically developing an adult political understanding of the world, so it was particularly noticeable to me.
posted by Frowner at 1:25 PM on March 11, 2015 [2 favorites]


Qualye is interesting because he wasn't taken seriously across the entire spectrum. The unfortunate thing is that many, many people take the likes of O'Reilly and Jim Hoft seriously. It's like having a chocolate eclair for a philosophy professor, and proud of it!
posted by juiceCake at 2:40 PM on March 11, 2015


The unfortunate thing is that many, many people take the likes of O'Reilly and Jim Hoft seriously. It's like having a chocolate eclair for a philosophy professor, and proud of it!

A falafel, surely.
posted by jason_steakums at 7:52 PM on March 11, 2015


“The Republican Party Is A Party Of Subversives,” Charles P. Pierce, Esquire Politics Blog, 11 March 2015
posted by ob1quixote at 9:21 PM on March 11, 2015


« Older I wonder if he lives in a valley?   |   JackDurden.com Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments