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Sunday, June 10, 2012

One Final Thought!

On June 6, 2012, The Pew Research Center for the People & Press released an amazing document.  It is called Trends in American Values:  1987-2012 - Partisan Polarization Surges in Bush, Obama Years.  I urge you to go to their website and download the entire 168 pages.

The Pew Center, and its director, Andrew Kohut, are absolute professionals.  They absolutely "call 'em as they seem 'em".  Over the years, I have been greatly impressed with their work.  Once I even considered applying for a job there, but that would have involved moving to Washington, and you know what I think about the denizens of that place.

Anyway, I have become increasingly worried about the inability of Congress and the President to get the nation's business done.  Why they should so completely not be able to get along, is the great puzzle.  My initial guess was Obama's race.  While that may still be a factor, the Pew study paints a more nuanced picture.  They have asked the same questions of a sample of registered voters for twenty-five years and this report summarizes the results of all those surveys.  And the Appendix shows the complete detailed results.

This is my take on what has happened over those twenty-five years.  More and more voters have become disillusioned with their party and have become independents.   (That is my case.)  Only 24% of registered voters now self identify as Republicans and only 32% identify as Democrats.  But 38% now identify as Independents.

As best as I can discern from the data, the increase in Independents has come from white men, Millennials (born 1981-1994) and Gen Xers (born 1965-1980).

Since Independents are "moderate" in their political attitudes, each party is left with only an increasingly strident minority who control the party apparatus, and Congress, of late.  The problem for Independents is that except for Bernie Sanders and Joe Lieberman, there are no Independents in Congress.  The Republicans and Democrats actually in Congress represent these small, declining factions of the respective parties.

It also seems to me from reading the data (something I have considerable experience doing), that there are just two main issues dividing the remaining Republicans and Democrats.

1)  The size of government, which actually means is the government effective in what it does?

2)  Should there be a safety net for the less fortunate among us, which actually means is the government supporting slackers? 

These are just my conclusions so I strongly urge you to draw your own conclusions.  It may be the single most important issue of the day.

And, in case you don't think Pew can measure anything, look at the change in attitudes toward inter-racial dating.

And a note to Darin.  Thanks for your interest, but I have been trying to finish Ron Suskind's Confidence Men since last September and I have over twenty books to go after that one.  Since you may be the only reader of this rant, I think you can understand why I might want to spend my time elsewhere.

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