Friday, October 4, 2013

These people do not live in the same country I do

There's an interesting study out (PDF) that carried out focus groups of different groups of self-identified Republicans and found out they have lots of disagreements. From a summary:
While moderate Republicans want their leaders to seek what they call “middle ground,” they form only one quarter of today’s Republican voters. The most conservative factions in the party — evangelicals and Tea Party adherents — now comprise more than half of Republican partisans. These folks do not worry that Republican leaders’ intransigence has led to this kind of shutdown politics in Washington. Instead, they worry that current Republican leaders are too compromising:
The right wing (Tea Party and Evangeicals) absolutely despise President Obama. The words they most often use for him are "liar" and they are "scared". The study note that no one made overtly racial comments in the focus groups, but nevertheless race is an underlying factor. (Andrew Sullivan has argued that this lashing out as their world is dying)
They have an acute sense that they are white in a country that is becoming increasingly “minority,” and their party is getting whooped by a Democratic Party that uses big government programs that benefit mostly minorities, create dependency and a new electoral majority. Barack Obama and Obamacare is a racial flashpoint for many Evangelical and Tea Party voters.
The study has quotes from individuals. Here's one, describing his home.
It’s a little bubble. So everybody – it’s like a Lake Wobegon. Everybody is above average. Everybody is happy. Everybody is white. Everybody is middle class, whether or not they really are. Everybody looks that way. Everybody goes to the same pool. Everybody goes – there’s one library, one post office. Very homogenous. (Evangelical man, Roanoke)
Their America does not look like mine. I live on the West Coast. In California, whites are no longer in the majority.  The streets are full of people of all colors.  That's not to say race isn't a problem--of course it is. We haven't solved it.  But we aren't hidden from it.   I'm not threatened by hearing the soft murmur of Spanish on the bus, like these people are, or the quick bilingual switches of the Latino/a students.

 It's not surprising, if you think about how segregated the Evangelicals are, that the gays are a particular ignition for them.  Because they don't know any gays and they really hate but even more fear us.

The fact that it is so prominent, that's day to day. Like…that stupid song on 96.1… It's on every five minutes. The “I can't change” song. It's on constantly. It's song promot-ing gay and lesbian rights and all that stuff. But it's so prominent. It's every 10 minutes. (Evangelical woman, Colorado Springs) (presumably she means this )

They believe there is a dominant culture that has marginalized them ideologically, linguistically, and culturally. They believe that their views are unacceptable outside of their small circles of like-minded friends and family. They are also very conscious that they are viewed as rednecks by the liberal elite.
But how do you cross the divide when they literally want to wall themselves off, and fear the changes around them?

And the study shows that  Tea Party republicans aren't willing to die on the social issues of the Evangelicals.


dr.primrose said...

Another N.Y. Times article on rich's lack of empathy - Rich People Just Care Less.

"A growing body of recent research shows that people with the most social power pay scant attention to those with little such power. This tuning out has been observed, for instance, with strangers in a mere five-minute get-acquainted session, where the more powerful person shows fewer signals of paying attention, like nodding or laughing. Higher-status people are also more likely to express disregard, through facial expressions, and are more likely to take over the conversation and interrupt or look past the other speaker.


"In politics, readily dismissing inconvenient people can easily extend to dismissing inconvenient truths about them. The insistence by some House Republicans in Congress on cutting financing for food stamps and impeding the implementation of Obamacare, which would allow patients, including those with pre-existing health conditions, to obtain and pay for insurance coverage, may stem in part from the empathy gap. As political scientists have noted, redistricting and gerrymandering have led to the creation of more and more safe districts, in which elected officials don’t even have to encounter many voters from the rival party, much less empathize with them."

JCF said...

Well, IT, we now know what country these people DO live in: the Confederate States of America. Complete w/ Stars & Bars.

Kevin K said...

One of the ways too cross the divide is to meet with and interact with people with different belief systems. I, for example, married my beloved liberal, pinko, neo-commie gal. She married her conservative, troglodyte, gun owner guy. I knew and know people who are very conservative and very liberal. By knowing these people I come to discover that I respect people on both sides of the political equation.

When we never interact it is easier to demonize those with whom we disagree.

dr.primrose said...

Good N.Y. Times article - My Cloistered Teenage Soul - on returning for a high school reunion after being closeted in high school.

IT said...

Kevin K, you are correct. It's the heart of the argument of the book "Bowling Alone", that the loss of social structures that put us in touch with people different to us (church, bowling league, rotary, etc) has led to existing in a protected little bubble of people like ourselves.