Crossposted from Proudtobeafilthyliberalscum.com
Usually, when I come across an article that blames both Democrats and Republicans for the gridlock in Washington, the argument goes something like this:
Nancy Pelosi has called for having stray cats neutered.
John Boehner, caving in to pressure from the Tea Party freshmen, has called for all stray cats to be killed and used as fertilizer.
Why are both sides so against kittens?
The article “Why Republicans Aren’t the Only Ones to Blame For Polarization” by William Galston at The New Republic, goes a step further and blames everyone for the excesses of the right. Including you. Yes, you! I read the article and was left skeptical that liberals are even close to being equally responsible for the current state of our country, so I took a closer look. The entire article is amazingly misleading.
Galston provides a set of facts that look quite damning until you take a closer look at them. So let’s do that!
Since 2000, the share of Republicans calling themselves moderate or liberal has fallen from 37 to 27 percent, while the conservative share of Democrats has fallen from 25 to 20 percent. Republicans are more conservative than they used to be, and Democrats are more liberal. Did you catch that? Moderate and liberal Republicans dropped, conservative Democrats dropped. What about moderate Democrats? Did they drop too? I don’t know what data Galston is working from but I can guess that the answer is “no” or he would have included it. If you have to compare two groups to one to “balance” the narrative, you’re being disingenuous. And intentionally so.
Here’s another one that seems damning until you look at it in context:
Over a longer period, Republicans have changed somewhat more than Democrats. Between 1972 and 2008, Abramowitz finds, Republican voters shifted rightward by 0.7 points on a seven-point scale, from 4.7 to 5.4. (On this scale, 1 means extremely liberal, while 7 means extremely conservative.) Meanwhile, Democratic voters shifted to the left by 0.5 points, from 3.7 to 3.2. Goodness! 0.5 to 0.7! The Democrats are only slightly behind Republicans in how far they’ve moved towards their extremes! Bullshit. Take a closer look. If the scale is 1-7 that makes 3.5 the center. That means the Democrats shifted from a little center right to a little center left. Hardly the stuff of political gridlock. On the other hand, the GOP is now more than halfway to Taliban style extremism. Galston provides no analysis of what the shifts mean, just that the GOP’s shift is slightly larger. This is like comparing a man missing both legs to a woman missing a finger and declaring both of them the same since they’re both amputees. Where both parties finish is just as important, if not more so, than how far they moved.
Galston finishes off the article with this delightful bit of sleight of hand:
In a survey taken right after the Republican sweep in the 2010 midterm elections, 47 percent of American said that it was more important to compromise in order to get things done, versus 27 percent who thought it was more important for leaders to stick to their beliefs even if little got done. Liberal Democrats weighed in on the side of compromise, 58 to 16, moderate Democrats by 64 to 17. But conservative Republicans (the overwhelming majority of their party) favored sticking to their beliefs by 45 to 26. Ten months later, after the debt ceiling fiasco, an outright majority of adults favored compromise, including 62 percent of Democrats and 63 percent of liberals. But pluralities of Republicans and conservatives continued to favor leaders who stuck to their beliefs. Galston makes it very clear that liberals and Democrats are more than willing to negotiate and compromise while Republicans are not. But follows it up with this:
There is nothing wrong with a frank and honest debate between two visions of our country’s future. But for the foreseeable future, neither party can definitively defeat the other. The only alternative to reasonable compromise—the sooner the better—is a level of gridlock that would paralyze our economy and eviscerate what is left of our reputation. All of those contributing to our current era of polarization would be wise to take heed. And Galston sticks the landing! After repeatedly showing data that demonstrates the exact opposite of his claim that it’s not just Republicans that are causing the gridlock, Galston still manages to implicate everyone by not “taking sides.” All of WHO, exactly is contributing to our current era of politicization? Moderates? Liberals? Democrats? Not in the slightest. It’s the GOP and its far right conservative base. But we can’t say that, can we? That might sound biased. It must be difficult to maintain one’s “neutrality” when all the facts lead to an inescapable conclusion but Galston continues to push a dishonest narrative anyway.
And this is what is wrong with our country: no matter how outrageous and blatant the extremism of the right is or how milquetoast and tepid the left’s response is, the “liberal” media will insist, absolutely demand, that we treat both sides the same. What a great time to be a right-wing conservative. What a terrible time to be a rational human being.
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