Friday, June 30, 2017

Science and the Partisan Divide

There's a great analysis out this week of the 2016 election by the Voter Study Group of the Democracy Fund. Among other things it breaks out Trump and Clinton voters according to twelve "issues."

The study assumes that people just "come" to these positions, but of course that is nonsense. Ordinary people do not have any ideas, except those that are implanted by ideologically motivated elites and other ideological entrepreneurs.

But I want to look at each issue, where the voters are, and where the "settled science΅ is. Which is shorthand for what I believe. Oh, and let's also guess where the ruling class comes down.

Issue 1: Politics is a rigged game. Voters are about agreed on this. Settled science? Really, you could knock me over with a spoon. Of course politics is rigged; that is the whole point of politics. Ruling class: Who me?

Issue 2: Importance of Social Security/Medicare. Almost everyone is on the left and on the right agrees that Social Security/Medicare are important. Settled science? Social Security/Medicare is a terrible idea that is bound to crash and burn and in the mean time is a crushing injustice on the young 'uns. Ruling class: Huh! We really snookered them on that one.

Issue 3: Foreign trade. Clinton voters are a bit to the left of Trump voters, but on the whole everyone is suspicious of it. Settled science? Tax foreign trade like we tax everything else, no more and no less, and shut up. Ruling class: We are for foreign trade except when we are against it.

Issue 4: Attitudes on gender roles. Clinton voters are mildly left; Trump voters are right in the middle. Settled science? Most people would be utterly lost without well-defined gender roles. Ruling class: a screwed up population is easily led.

Issue 5: Pride in America. Clinton voters are moderately proud of America, and Trump voters very proud of America. Settled science? Nationalism is probably the best thing going that gets people to unite and forget their partisan squabbles. Ruling class: Yes, but when does nationalism verge into Nazism?

Issue 6: Perception that "people like me" are in decline. Clinton voters are about even on this; Trump voters are in agreement. Settled science? In any economic revolution, people will worry about their status. Ruling class: Don't look at us, baby.

Issue 7: Attitude towards black people. Clintonites are warmish towards black people; Trumpists are cool towards black people. Settled science? Since the white working class has to pay for race politics it is not surprising they don't like it. Ruling class: Yay! Divide and conquer.

Issue 8: Feelings about Muslims. Clinton voters have good feelings about Muslims; Trump voters have bad feelings about Muslims. Settled science? Muslims are great, as long as we are ruthless about deporting the terrorists like they do in Italy. Ruling class: We can handle this, because we are educated and evolved.

Issue 9: Attitudes on immigration. Clinton voters are pretty OK on immigration, Trump voters are pretty un-OK. Settled science? Immigration directly affects wages, and obviously lowers the potential wages of the native-born. Ruling class: No human is illegal.

Issue 10: Attitudes on moral issues. Clinton voters are strongly left; Trump voters are mildly right. Settled science? Lefty moral issues lead to men that don't work and women that don't marry. Not good. Ruling class: We should not impose our morality...

Issue 11: Attitudes on economic equality. Clintonites are strongly left; Trump voters mildly right. Settled science? Probably any government policy trying to fix inequality is going to make things worse. Ruling class: Divide and conquer.

Issue 12: Attitudes towards government intervention. Clinton voters in favor. Trump voters opposed. Settled science? Law of unintended consequences says intervention makes things worse. Ruling class: More government, more jobs for us.

So what does this all mean? It means, I think, that the attitude of all voters is: Stop the world with government force, I want to get off. It also means that the propaganda of the ruling class has a big effect in America: see especially gender roles. But the settled science says that the market and its prices are the gentlest way imaginable to force us humans, who hate change, to adjust to a changing world with the minimum of hardship, fines and jail time and executions.

It is interesting that the two issues in which average Clinton and Trump voters are all on the same side of the line are Pride in America and "people like me" in decline. People are still proud of America despite half a century of anti-national propaganda from the ruling class. And people feel in decline despite the ruling class's insistence that things are getting better in every possible way due to our ruling class education and wisdom.

The basic problem is that people are asking for stuff they shouldn't be asking for. They think that government can make their lives better. Instead, per JFK, we should ask not what our country can do for us, but what we can do for our country.

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