How People Ate in Medieval England: Weekend Watching

Eric Levitz: Tribalism Isn’t Our Democracy’s Problem. The GOP Is: "Ordinary Republican and Democratic voters don’t disagree about public policy much more than they used to, but they still fear and loathe each other more than at any point in our nation’s modern history.... electoral politics has always been 'identity' politics. What is new is how cleanly the two-party system currently divides Americans along lines of racial, religious, and regional identity.... Few rural white Evangelical Christians can vote for a Democrat in 2018 without betraying all of their definitions of who 'their people' are...

...The strongest partisans in the United States today are not the voters with the most conservative or liberal policy opinions—but rather, those with the strongest attachments to social groups that are uniformly associated with one major political party.... The government shutdown of 2013.... A plurality of Republican voters want the federal government to expand Medicaid and protect individuals with preexisting conditions. And yet, a plurality of Republican voters also wanted their elected representatives to shut down the government—and thus, inflict economic damage on their own country—on the outside chance that doing so would prevent Barack Obama’s plan to expand Medicaid and protect people with preexisting conditions from ever taking effect.

Still, there are worse things than hyperpartisanship; bipartisanship, for example.... If Democratic elected officials and opinion leaders had commended compromise during last year’s health-care debate; acknowledged the validity of the Republican Party’s attempt to throw millions of low-income Americans off of Medicaid to finance tax cuts for the rich; and supplied the votes necessary for gutting federal health-care spending (in defiance of the wishes of a majority of both parties’ voters), then our politics would have become less polarized—and less responsive to the popular will—at the same time.... More than a few times in recent decades, Democrats have sought bipartisan compromise by acquiescing to unpopular (and unwise) conservative policy goals.... The biggest barrier to popular sovereignty has always been economic inequality.... Political tribalism is bad. But government by and for the rich is worse....

The GOP, and its associated institutions, have spent much of the past half-century actively trying to polarize the electorate along racial lines, and mobilize the Christian right through appeals to its most paranoid, millenarian instincts. This is no partisan conspiracy theory; it is basic political history.... One major appeal of “polarization” (or “hyperpartisanship”) as a framework for understanding our democracy’s dysfunction is that it does not implicate any one party or political movement: We are all subject to cognitive biases; impersonal, sociological forces have strengthened those biases; and thus, we have lost our collective capacity to find common ground. But this universalism is also the framework’s fatal weakness.... Tribalism may be a threat to democracy; but the tribe that the poorest 99 percent of Americans do not belong to is a bigger one...


#shouldread #politics #orangehairedbaboons

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