Think Freely Media presents Common Sense with Paul Jacob

Politics used to be less socially divisive.

That’s the gist of a new study by the Pew Research Center, as explained by Dan Balz at the Washington Post. By “almost every measure,” Pew claims to have found that the gaps between Republicans and Democrats “have increased over the past 2 years, and in some cases now seem to represent almost unbridgeable divisions.”Divided America

Americans may bemoan partisan gridlock in Washington, but they need only look at the report to understand the root of the problem. Polarization in Washington is not just politicians behaving badly. It reflects what is happening around the country. Partisanship has grown dramatically and shows no sign of abating. . . .

Not exactly shocking news, eh? Over what are we divided? Balz states the obvious: “Some of the most significant differences . . . were on core issues of the 2012 campaign: the role and scope of government and the social safety net.”

Why more division now than in the past?

Because in the past government was smaller. As more and more people become sated with the level of government we have, they start objecting to increases in its size and scope. There have always been folks who want more government. Now their number effectively dwindles. In the “good old days,” there was a “consensus” — a larger percentage — for more government.

Well, we got that “more government.” And fewer and fewer folks like what they see.

Unlike when I was a kid, today the protest against government growth has the teeth of large numbers. So of course “mainstream” discourse has become divisive. It will remain so until the numbers of pro-government-growth-at-all-costs folks dwindle into insignificance.

This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.

By: Redactor


  1. Liz Nash says:

    So long as nobody rolls a guillotine out into the town square, there’s nothing wrong with robust debate. The only people who complain about polarization are liberals, and then only when they are losing power, or can’t have their way. You never hear about polarization being a bad thing from conservatives, and you don’t hear it from liberals, either, when they are getting their way. The fact that this phony controversy is popping up again is just the canary in the mine. It means they know they are losing their grip on power.

  2. Jay says:

    EVERYBODY really wants smaller government, and a cutback in spending–EXCEPT ON THOSE THAT BENEFIT THEM.

    Cut Social Security-for people who have contributed for 40 or so years; cut the military and intelligence budgets-but why did we have the terrorist attacks and near attacks? Ad infinitum, ad nauseum.


  3. Melissa Bower says:

    I agree that we are certainly divided. I don’t know the reason. One thing evident from watching the Wisconsin recall election is the lack of one side’s ability to listen to the other. The left side was so convinced it had the right idea about recalling the governor that they weren’t aware of the moderates and conservatives who disagreed with them. On the other side, conservatives are also ignorant of what makes a liberal make up his or her mind on a particular political issue. I hear some pretty nasty things about liberals and conservatives that are almost never true. For example, people say liberals want to tax and spend when they really do care about the poor, conservatives want to cut services and not tax the wealthy when they really want to limit government to increase opportunities for businesses.

  4. Drik says:

    Philosophical differences used to be just philosophical, since the effect was only philosophical. That was before the government had seized enough power to undermine its detractors. Government might aspire to be an all inclusive nanny state, but the availablity of the free market meant that free people could always choose to set up a company and be independent, and a free people could and would always choose opportunity over life on the dole and would abandon the planned centrally controlled government. The mistake that the nanny-staters had always made was that they had not regimented that freedom out of the country as an option. Now, they have made great inroads on that freedom with perpetuating unelected agancies and unvoted on regulations that survive the changing of the guard and leave few options. Little in the way of oportunity for the unemployed teens, twenty-somethings and minorities with the government blocking that freedom of the market.

    Edward Abbey said something to the effect that there needed to always be hills and wild places, so that honest men would have places to run to. He could just as well have been speaking about a country where the states exercised the power reserved to them in the Constitution and it had not been usurped away by the national (not federal) government.

    The existance of the free market and alternative options to the nanny state was the reson that Marx bitterly complained that his revolution could not happen unless it happened everywhere at once. He knew that many productive people would choose freedom and the opportunity and chance to better themselves if they could see a chance. Now between the corporate tax burden, the hostile legal environment, and the greatest number of regulations of any country in the free world, this has become a difficult place to start and/run a business. And the result is job flight. Jobs are more mobile than people. So the “wild places” of the market have been nearly removed as an option for honest men to run to. and away from the government control.

    Government control has been like a boa constrictor. Every compromise has allowed a little tightening. Howls of protest arise if there is any talk of loosening or downsizing. Each generation becomes aclimitized to the restrictions and the coils keep tightening. Any talk of removing the national govenrment from the control is equivocated as an absense of government, rather than transfer of power to direct control by the people affected. Like it said in the Constitution. The resistance to the national government power and restrictions are because the true and unsustainable costs are now more visible.

    A lot of the passengers are starting to get nervous while the ship’s captain throttles ahead faster apparantly oblivious of the icebergs. As for the people who are drinking and partying in the ballroom and listening to the captain, they are starting to appear more than a little crazy. Too.

  5. Paul Jacob says:

    Great comments. Hear! Hear! Maybe WE aren’t so divided.

    It must then be all THEIR fault!

  6. MoreFreedom says:

    I read a fascinating article at reason on the subject:

    Perhaps the most interesting fact from the article is the research showing that conservatives understand liberals, but liberals don’t understand conservatives, apparently because conservatives have a different, and larger, set of “moral foundations” than liberals.

    This is in contrast to the recent articles on the “research” that supposedly shows conservatives as using/having “low effort thought”.

    Nevertheless, the Reason article is good reading in understand differences between liberals, conservatives and libertarians.

  7. Tree Dee says:

    Respectfully: Will the folks out there who want bigger, more intrusive, nosey-body government, please get on with the dwindling?
    The rest of us would like to move on with the ‘liberty’ thing, thusly advancing the cause of HUMANITY. Thank you.

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