Liberals: An Evolutionary Anachronism

Liberals are pessimists. That is a why a happy guy like me can’t be one. I have long argued variations on that theme, now I find research to confirm it. It may be a result of natural selection. Bear with me.

I believe in the basics of evolution, but unlike some of my liberal colleagues I don't automatically reject non-PC implications (a la Lawrence Summers).

Happiness is not just dependent on external circumstance. It is like body weight. People have "set points". Circumstance can affect them, but they tend toward homeostasis around that point. For example, Woody Allen remains famously miserable in the face of enormous success. Others are happy when they get an extra piece of ham in their bowl of bean soup. The reason may be shrouded in the mists of prehistory.

Consider life on the African Savannah 3 million years ago. Life was tough for our little ancient relatives. They made an easy meal for anything with sharp teeth and claws. Dangers lurked everywhere. It made a survival sense to be skittish and pessimistic. A happy go lucky Australopithecus quickly became lion lunch, while her nervous and dreary little sister - anticipating 20 out of every 10 hazards - jumped successfully out of the way. I bet, a survey of lemurs or chimpanzees would turn up a fair amount of apprehension about their future prospects. (I hear bonobos are happy, but in the superficial Hugh Hefner way and for similar reasons). Evolution has equipped us to be afraid, very afraid.

Natural selection no longer operates in our society. Pessimism just gives you stomach aches and obscures potential opportunities. The most dangerous beast you are likely to encounter in America today is an angry squirrel, if you grab his nuts, but our Pleistocene brains are still looking for dangers and finding dangerous patterns even where none exist. We cannot be completely happy because we still feel the the leopard's breath among the flowers.

Some people (mostly Republicans if you follow the research) have evolved beyond the cognition of an ape-man, at least in the point of optimism. They can be happy most of the time. Others have not. Will they? It may be for years and it may be forever.

Re the research itself with the title, America’s Optimists: More Republican but Fewer of Them I say, we few, we HAPPY few, we Republicans. I expect that after a couple year of Dems in Congress there will be more Republicans in the electorate (although maybe not all so happy) in 2008, I expect Democrats shall think themselves accurs'd and hold their manhoods cheap ... wait they already do that even when they are on top. It is their sunshine & flowers dilemma.

PS - Maybe I was wrong about this natural selection thing no longer operating in America today. Many liberal lifestyle choices are not conducive to reproduction and I read about an Episcopalian Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori (any woman whose name reads like a complete sentence has gotta be liberal) asking her congregation to go extinct. Give that woman the Darwin Award.

Posted by Jack at December 1, 2006 2:59 PM
Comments
Comment #197276

That is among the most illogical series of connections I’ve seen from you yet… You know they have meds for that, right? Or is it simply Eric rubbing off on you?

Posted by: Dave1-20-2009 at December 1, 2006 3:56 PM
Comment #197278

Dave

I just think it is amusing.

Frankly it makes more sense and the connections are more valid than those “Bush lied” theories. And it makes a lot more sense than the stolen election stories from Ohio or Florida.

It certainly could be true.

Posted by: Jack at December 1, 2006 4:03 PM
Comment #197279

Jack, “still feel the leopards breath among the flowers” you might want to quit your day job and write for a living, I like that.
So basically the direction our Country was going in sorta makes me think your comment is correct in that there are less happy people today but those people that are happy are Republicans. After all things have been going their way for quite some time now and the rest of us are the ones left holding the bag.

Posted by: j2t2 at December 1, 2006 4:06 PM
Comment #197280

Jack, is optimistic the same thing as predatory in the whole evolution scheme of things you speak of.

Posted by: j2t2 at December 1, 2006 4:09 PM
Comment #197284

Jack,

I know “conservatives are optimists” is one of your favorite memes and I have never bought it. Both liberals and conservatives like to bitch, just about different things.

There are a couple of problems with the research. First of all, its isn’t about liberals and conservatives, but about Republicans and Democrats. Secondly, the difference in perceived quality of life is small, less than 1 on a scale of 1 to 10. Finally, it could be that Republicans aren’t more optimistic, but actually have a higher quality of life.

But the bottom line is, you guys like to bitch and moan, too.

Posted by: Woody Mena at December 1, 2006 4:30 PM
Comment #197286

Jack-
To be offended by the Bishop’s statement, you have to connect her statements on education level to her statement on the theological impulse to have more children, you have to stuff in a partisan point of view, and you have to sew the whole thing up with a complete misunderstanding of what she meant to say. You got this from an openly partisan right-to-life website, so my trust in your interpretation is not all that high on that account.

Second, Evolution, for such long-lived creatures like ourselves does not operate so obviously on year to year timescales. Additionally, it doesn’t take a change in generation to create a change in points of view, just a president whose supporters are in denial about how much things have gone downhill under his leadership.

However, I think you will see more optimism from liberals, barring any great disaster, as things wear on. The Bush administrations rigid, fanatical hold on power drained a great many people of their hope that things could improve. The election of the new congress may go a long ways to bringing more smiles to American faces.

I hope. ;-)

If they don’t, I’m going after them myself.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at December 1, 2006 4:41 PM
Comment #197287

Uhhh….Jack?

I also thought this would be an Eric Post. I do not know why liberals have the opinions the way they do. It can’t be evolution. The chances of evolution happening, according to a mathematician to 1 to 1. That makes evolution true, right? Not quite. The 2nd 1 has ten thousand zeros!

I want to ask a liberal why they don’t like Capitalism and love higher taxes. Come on, Libs. I know you’re out there…

Posted by: stubborn conservative at December 1, 2006 4:42 PM
Comment #197291

I think you are off-base on this one Jack. Liberals are only pessimistic about things when they are not in control.
Low unemployment under clinton? Life is great.
Low unemployment under Bush? Crappy jobs, Bush is cheating etc…
I would bet that you yourself are wondering how long it will take before the new congress and house start taking credit for those numbers and liberals start liking them again.

Stubborn
They love higher taxes because it takes the financial burden of supporting their own beliefs off themselves and places it on everybody else. Whether they share the same beliefs or not.

Posted by: kctim at December 1, 2006 5:11 PM
Comment #197293

Jack,
“… We few, we HAPPY few, we Republicans… Democrats shall think themselves accurs’d and hold their manhoods cheap…”

Typical Republican spin. At the Battle of Agincourt, Henry V actually told his troops that if they lost, the nobility would be captured and ransomed, but the footsoldiers would be slaughtered on the spot, so they had better fight extra hard.

The French nobility suffered horrendous casualties because, although the English nobility refused to execute them, knowing the French would make them so much ransom money, (war is a racket), the English footsoldiers were more than happy to do the deed.

Class warfare at its finest.

Posted by: phx8 at December 1, 2006 5:15 PM
Comment #197297

I found it most interesting the article noted the following:

Looking at the trend lines in the responses over the past 40 years, you cannot help but be struck by an unyielding, even poignant pattern: the future, once it finally arrives, never lives up to today’s expectations of it.

Optimism that isn’t reality-based equates to naivete. Looks like we’re all unrealistically optimistic (naive) when it comes to the future.

Let’s assume for a moment the article is actually measuring optimism. The research has a few interesting trends that aren’t terribly generalizable in their current form. The study controlled for nothing, which greatly limits it’s applicability. Simple, correlational research with no controls results in stereotyping and inaccurate results. These same types of generalizations have resulted in many of the biased, sexist, and racist ideologies the world has endured in the past.

In order to understand what’s driving the difference between the conservative / liberal “optimism” outcome, you’d have to control for all of the various demographic variables that are typically associated with optimism outcomes. I’m not up on the optimism research, but what people are generally more optimistic? Rich? Poor? Men? Women? Old? Young? I’d venture to say if you controlled for the relevant demographic variables, there’d be a near null correlation between the two political positions. It would make for an interesting study.

As for your rhetoric, I find it humerous (as in “haha, I feel sad for you.”). Maybe I’m a pessimist!

Posted by: Dr D at December 1, 2006 5:32 PM
Comment #197300

Phx8

So Shakespeare was preemptively spinning for us Republicans? Great.

Stubborn

I think you are taking this too seriously, although I do believe Dems are pessimistic.

Kctim

You are right too. If you look at the data, Dems were pretty happy in 1998, when objective conditions were very similar to today’s. It is also interesting that Republicans are generally happier even when Dems are in power.

Stephen

See above to Stubborn.

I am not offended by the Bishop. I do believe in the Darwin award for her. I do not expect that evolution will act within my lifetime, but I do not need more of that sort around. If they want to voluntarily wipe themselves out, fine with me. They should probably pay a little more into SS, since they do not have a second generation to support them in the dotage.

Woody

I do believe the pessimism thing. I do not mind complaining. I enjoy it. That is the key. I enjoy it. I find that liberals are often much more serious about these things. I understand that I am often wrong, but rarely in doubt. That works for me, since doing something is often better than doing nothing. I know that a lot of live depends on randomness and I welcome the serendipity. Liberals try to figure it out to an extent not possible. If you try to figure all the angles, you cannot take advantage of the fortuitous opportunities.

Posted by: Jack at December 1, 2006 5:48 PM
Comment #197303

Jack,
“… Although I do believe Dems are pessimistic.”

What a pessimistic statement!

Posted by: phx8 at December 1, 2006 6:12 PM
Comment #197307

“I understand that I am often wrong, but rarely in doubt.”

i’m wrong, i know it, i don’t care.

classic. i’ll be sure to regurgitate that gem the next time we disagree.

Posted by: Diogenes at December 1, 2006 6:41 PM
Comment #197311


Jack: Perhaps you have hit on the reason why the slogan ” Don’t worry, Be happy ” doesn’t work for liberals.

Liberals were very optimistic about heading into the 21st century only to have that optimism bashed on the rocks by a Republican takeover of the government. We quickly found out that the Republicans wern’t interested in moving into the future. They were only interested in finding a new enemy that could rival Communism and a return to the 1950’s socially.

The Republicans have been very optimistic about the economy, ( based on borrow and spend) corporate America and the war in Iraq. The Republicans have been very pessimistic about virtually everything else. Be afraid, be very very afraid.

Life on the savannah 3 million years ago? Jack, you should be careful not to make accusations like this in the future. The Republican party power base is offended by such statements.

Posted by: jlw at December 1, 2006 7:29 PM
Comment #197317

From a fairly conservitive friend of mine at work.
The difference between an optomist and a pesimest is just experience.
I am quite independant ie a fiscal conservative but social liberal (as in keep government out of decision making). I am just as pesimestic about this dem congress as I was about the R congress. The only thing that makes me more optomistic is that Jr. will have to finally find his veto pen and maybe we will see a little more responsiblitiy in congress; however, I will not get my hopes up too high.

Posted by: timesend at December 1, 2006 7:58 PM
Comment #197319

jlw

I figured that destroying those buildings on 9/11 demonstrated that we still had people in the world who disliked us and were willing to kill as many as possible.

Everybody was afraid back then. I was afraid. Maybe you were not, but there was an objective reason to be afraid. Most of us expected more attacks in our country. Since we managed to disrupt the terror networks, we have had no attacks in the U.S. since 2001. We still face risks. It would be foolish to overestimate it, but more foolish to underestimate it.

The economy is very similar in almost every way to the economy of 1998. If you thought that year was good, you should think this year is at least okay.

It is sort of like taking a vacation in the same place in different years and having really good weather both times, but making a distinction based on your travel agent.

Posted by: Jack at December 1, 2006 8:17 PM
Comment #197325
Natural selection no longer operates in our society.

I swear I’ve heard you say it does operate when talking about the poor. :)

Seriously Jack, this is a wacky article. You say that a lot of liberals were happy in 1998, and now, after 6 years of Republican war on the middle class, we’re unhappy. Duh.

And here’s the really ironic part: There were more happy Republicans back in 1998 than there were on Nov. 7 of this year after six years of GOP rule.

Perhaps you can explain why, when Republicans dominate America, there are so few happy Republicans?

Posted by: American Pundit at December 1, 2006 8:43 PM
Comment #197328

AP

I may have done, but it is not NATURAL selection.

Liberals were relatively happy in 1998, but they never get VERY happy as a group.

I really do (and long have) believed that liberals tend toward the pessimistic. Most of my friends are liberals and they always give me a hard time about being too content. I think happy should be your default option, i.e. unless you have a specific reason to be unhappy, you should be happy.

I will not defend specifics of the article. I actually “wrote” it while I was running this afternoon. It started to drizzle rain and people were running for cover with troubled looks on their faces. I just started to laugh and confirmed again that life is generally good as long as you got a comfortable pair of running shoes. Then I figured liberals might feel guilty that their Nikes were made in a sweat shop. I don’t. When I got back to my computer, I just knocked this thing out in a couple of minutes and posted. As I read it again, I think it makes sense.

Posted by: Jack at December 1, 2006 8:59 PM
Comment #197331

Two comments:

I just think it is amusing…Posted by: Jack at December 1, 2006 04:03 PM
Obviously choice 2 ” it (is)simply Eric rubbing off on you…”Posted by: Dave1-20-2009 at December 1, 2006 03:56 PM
liberals might feel guilty that their Nikes were made in a sweat shop. I don’t…Posted by: Jack at December 1, 2006 08:59 PM
Jack believes in slavery as a valid economic model. Typical of an “optimist”

Posted by: Dave1-20-2009 at December 1, 2006 9:11 PM
Comment #197337

jlw,

Republicans were interested in finding a new enemy to rival the Communists of the 1950’s?
Sorry, I don’t think the Republicans found the Islamic fanatics, I think the twin towers of the World Trade Center did! Unless, of course, you happen to be one of the fringe kooks who believe Bush and Co. knew of the attacks and let them happen, or worse yet, planned them and framed Islam!

JD

Posted by: JD at December 1, 2006 9:48 PM
Comment #197339

I have heard every right-wing pundit from Limbaugh to Hannity to Coulter trot out this same tired chestnut over and over, and I just don’t understand it. I am one of the most lop-eared optimistic, happy people around. If anything, I have way to high of an opinion of the world and humanity, a fact my wife chides me for daily. And yet I am a hard core, gun hatin, pro-choice liberal. Go fig

Posted by: Leatherankh at December 1, 2006 9:59 PM
Comment #197341

Well, my mother always said ignorance is bliss. Wonder if that’s the cause of the results Jack posts?

Posted by: womanmarine at December 1, 2006 10:14 PM
Comment #197344

Wow, now I wish it was in a language that a everyday person like me could understand.

Now as far at the comment that Bush lied theories, well maybe he didn’t get the right facts(or tell US) but he sure didn’t(doesn’t) take responsibilty for getting us involved in a war that should have never happened and now into the middle of a Civil War.

If he thinks that being in Iraq is good for America, maybe he should get his daughters to enlist and go over there for a year or two.

Posted by: KT at December 1, 2006 10:19 PM
Comment #197346

I have noticed the truth of Jack’s premise in real life. It certainly isn’t spin where I live: Michigan (a blue state). Michigan Democrats re-elected a Democrat governor who has no workable plan to re-build business in the most job-depressed state in the nation. The State hasn’t been able to raise enough in taxes to balance the budget for any of her years of being governor. The Democrats in Michigan like being depressed.

Me? I’m a happy person (tho’ not a card-carrying Republican). I see opportunity everywhere. My service-industry business is having a great year! And next year will probably be even better!

Posted by: Don at December 1, 2006 10:22 PM
Comment #197355

Jack, Jack, Jack, what an awkward and around about way of treating this subject. Liberals are not pessimists in general, (though some few are). They are prone to be idealists demanding realization of the American dream and promise of Peace, Prosperity, and Security for all.

Republicans are also prone toward an idealism, but, generally it excludes the ‘for all’ last two words, replacing them instead with the words ‘for those who earn it’.

Moderate liberals hold to somewhat different paths and methodologies for obtaining Peace and Prosperity and Freedom than moderate conservatives, which defines the political philosophy differences between the two parties. But, largely, those philosophical differences are relegated to irrelevance by their respective political party’s number one and two priorities, achieving power and keeping it, which leaves moderate Republican and Democrat constituents flocking to register as Independent voters.

It is the most egregious of intellectual errors to hold up the radical left or right as emblematic of the majority of liberals or conservatives. References to the left’s Weather Underground or SDS, or the right’s KKK or Neo-Nazi Groups no more represent the majority of liberals or conservatives in this country than the Chinese Politburo or Dalai Lama do.

Take care, and distinguish between radical left and right and liberals and conservatives in the majority middle. There is little that distinguishes the goals and hopes of the vast majority of Americans who reside in the middle and share the common goals of Peace, Prosperity, and Freedom.

Posted by: David R. Remer at December 1, 2006 11:36 PM
Comment #197357

What country were most of the 9/11 terrorists from? What kind of schools did they attend? Who paid for those schools? Remind me again, who are our enemies in the Middle East and who are our friends.

Did Bush and co. know what was going to happen on 9/11 and just let it happen? Of course not. Were they warned of a possible major terrorist threat and ignore the threat? Of course they did. were they preoccupied with their plans for the invasion of Iraq before 9/11? Yes they were.

Why is it that our policy in Iraq is exactly the policy to follow if you want to create more Islamic terrorists?

Posted by: jlw at December 1, 2006 11:42 PM
Comment #197358

If Republicans are the optimistic ones, why do you guys insist that you need semi-automatic weapons and armor piercing bullets?

I just lock my door and trust that no one means me harm. Just a crazy optimist that way.

Don,

You sound kind of, er, pessimistic about the state of Michigan. Just saying.

Oh and I like the part about the governor not having a “workable plan”. That’s the kind of thing we say about Bush.

Posted by: Woody Mena at December 1, 2006 11:43 PM
Comment #197359

Jack,
There is a very simple reason for liberals being somewhat discontent much of the time and conservatives being drunken with happiness: Liberals know more and see the many problems that face our current world, and thus are very unhappy about the status quo.

However, the conservatives either disregard the problems or don’t know about them, thus they are happy in their little bubble. After all, ignorance is bliss

Posted by: greenstuff at December 1, 2006 11:45 PM
Comment #197360

Pretty funny, Jack. Calm down, guys; he’s just being silly. In fact, if you read the article he posted to, it shows Dems more optimistic than Republicans in every year presented except the last. Regardless, one can imagine lemmings happily diving off a cliff.

Posted by: Trent at December 1, 2006 11:48 PM
Comment #197362

David

Just read this blog. The blue side is almost always finding the dark cloud in every silver lining. Robust economic growth, low unemployement etc mean nothing to them.

Look at our reactions to the victory of the other party. In 2004, the blue men will talking about how “they was robbed” and how terrible everything was going. In 2006, we red guys were not feeling great, but I do not think any one of us claimed that the Dems had cheated (despite some very close races) and several of us tried to find points of commonality.

For example, Paul showed me that Nancy Pelosi shares my practical view of labor unions. She doesn’t need one in her business and I think she has the right to manage as she wants.

We agreed with the majority of Dems that Steny Hoyer was better than the ethically challenged Jack Murtha and I like Lany Davis’ position on personal accounts.

Posted by: Jack at December 1, 2006 11:50 PM
Comment #197367

Woody is right. GOP Optimists vs. Dem Pessimists is definitely one of Jack’s recurring themes.

“Many liberal lifestyle choices are not conducive to reproduction”

Oh? Shall we also discuss Conservative lifestyle choices then? Isn’t it Republicans who love deregulation so that Big Business can pollute the planet at will? Aren’t they the ones who more often than not driving the biggest gas guzzling SUV’s they can find? And continually denigrating those who prefer organic food, in favor of eating food grown in petroleum-fertilized fields? While simultaneously supporting wars of choice for oil AND vehemently denying global warming? Are these to be viewed as healthy lifestyle choices “conductive to reproduction”?
You may mock liberals for deciding not to be heavy breeders for Jesus, or think we’re crazily pessimistic for not wanting to over populate the planet, but you might want to ask yourself why those on the left are so darn optimistic whenever we talk about alternative energy, and working toward a future that isn’t ruled by Big Oil at the expense of Everybodys Children.
Speaking of which, did you ever see ‘Who Killed The Electric Car’? It certainly wasn’t Liberals.

“and I read about an Episcopalian Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori (any woman whose name reads like a complete sentence has gotta be liberal) asking her congregation to go extinct. “

This is definitely a Simonsonian comment, IMO. It’s the old “all liberals are crazy by association with one person that the right finds easy to smear” game. Okay, I’ll play… How totally nutty and scary and absurd is it that Curt Weldon hosted the coronation of Sun Myung Moon as Emperor of the United States in a Congressional office building adjacent to the Capitol?
Seriously, in a contest of “your guys are loonier than our guys” I think it’s hands down an easy win for the GOP.

womanmarine:
“Well, my mother always said ignorance is bliss. Wonder if that’s the cause of the results Jack posts?”

My thoughts exactly, womanmarine. Ignorance, and/or willful denial?

Posted by: Adrienne at December 2, 2006 1:08 AM
Comment #197372

Jack, it took 4 years to get this economy back to robust, which lasted all of 3 quarters and is being threatened as we speak with a current quarter of zero % GDP growth. Sure, you can tout a short robust economic phase less that one year out of five. But, don’t expect American voters to reelect your party for it.

Unemployment down? Yes. Down along with wages, and reductions in health care benefits, and pensions and job security. Again, you are right, unemployment is down, but, don’t expect your party to be reelected for it, not in this context.

As for the magnanimity of Republicans in the face of defeat, well, Democrats won only by default of the voters rejection of Republican rule. Pretty hard to decry Democrats as the culprits for your party’s losses, when they didn’t even put forth a competing governance platform. One must be magnanimous when one loses on their own lack of merit, as opposed to the merits of their competitors. Contrition, penance, and magnanimity are the first steps on the long road back to good graces, aren’t they?

Posted by: David R. Remer at December 2, 2006 2:23 AM
Comment #197389

Adrienne and marine have suggested the root of Jacks problem is either “Ignorance, and/or willful denial” I propose that we are seeing “cognitive dissonance”; which has been more creatively described as “doublethink”.

Posted by: Dave1-20-2009 at December 2, 2006 9:49 AM
Comment #197392

The very ideology of conservatives is pessimistic. Scared to abandon tradition. Scared to try new things. Scared of change. The conservative would have felt it best to stay with the British Empire, “optimistic” about its future, while the radical “pessimistic” liberal would have felt that system bereft of value and demand revolution. Conservatives retreat into the familiar while liberals expand into the unknown.

Similarly, conservatives’ “optimism” is informed by their certainty while liberals’ “pessimism” is informed by their skepticism. There is a great quote from Bertrand Russell that speaks to this: “The trouble with the world is that the stupid are cocksure and the intelligent are full of doubt.”

Conservatives suffer from a lack of imagination and an abundance of timidity. While liberals are excited by their dreams and are bold enough to experiment. If it were up to conservatives, we wouldn’t have indoor plumbing, we would still believe the Earth is the center of the universe and rocks don’t fall from the sky.

I’ll take liberal “pessimism” over conservative “optimism” any day. And I think that’s optimistic.

Posted by: Joseph Briggs at December 2, 2006 10:41 AM
Comment #197398

Adrienne

I have nothing against organic food. There are appropriate times to use fertilizers and pesticides and appropriate times not to. These things are like medicine & poison. Whether it saves or kills depends on the circumstances and the dosage.

Many people have analyzed the liberal conservative birth differences. These things tend to be ephemeral and I do not want to put too much into it. Suffice to say that gay couples and radical feminists tend to have fewer children.

I have no trouble with denial and avoidance as life strategies. I can illustrate both with something we all do every day. If I am driving down the road and I hear on the radio that an accident has backed up traffic for miles, does it not make sense to AVOID that stretch of road. Driving down that same road, if someone cuts me off a always say to myself “he probably needs to get home to handle an emergency.” I think the chances of that being true are small, but it gives me that pause that avoids road rage and keeps me happy.

It takes a smart person to be cynical and a wise one not to be. Anger at the world is an earlier stage of development. I think people have to pass through it. Most never complete the journey.

David

It took three years. The upturn started in 2003. Also recall WHEN the downturn started. That would be March 2000, when Clinton was still President and optimism was high among liberals. It was also in 2000 that median wages started down. This year they are coming back up.

This year is a lot like 1998. We cannot really feel bad about that. Median wages are higher than any time except the 1998-2004 period. I have linked to graphs of these on many occasions. It is easily found, just not well publicized.

David 1

Cognitive dissonance is not one of my big problems. I live the kind of lifestyle I want and do the things I think are right. If other people think it is inconsistent, I do not really care.

I think one of the hallmark differences between conservative and liberal cognition is their perceived span of responsibilities. There are two categories of concerns: a small set over which we have real influence and a big set that may be very important but about which we can do nothing. It does not mean you are unconcerned about these things, but there is not much you can do. A smart guy spends his time working on those things he can improve. The less effective person frets about all the other ones. The former person gets a lot more done, but the latter person gets to occupy the theoretical high ground.

I guess the choice is whether you want to do good about things you influence or feel you are doing good about really big things. It shows in personal behavior.

More and more research is coming out showing that liberals are less generous than conservatives. Look there for cognitive dissonance if you have need of it.

Posted by: Jack at December 2, 2006 11:19 AM
Comment #197399

Joesph Briggs

I guess that is why the Dems are so full of new ideas, like keep SS in its 1935 form, preserving relationships of the 1960s and making sure “dangerous” new technologies are regulated by what they call forward thinking bureaucracies.

Posted by: Jack at December 2, 2006 11:23 AM
Comment #197409

Another reason why liberal Dems, not all Dems, are pessimistic is because of their view of the country. They want America to be just like Europe. They constantly say we are the evil ones in the world. No country is perfect, but I know evil and we are not it.

Joseph Briggs:

I’m not afraid of change. Conservatives are conservatives for being traditionalists, so you are right on that. Not all change is good. Liberals want to take away what this country was founded upon. Liberals like free speech, but conservatives want to sensor profanity. I wouldn’t want children to listen to garbage. Another example is the removal of Christianiy in public. I don’t see any removal of Islam or Judaism by the liberals. We want freedom OF religion, not freedom FROM it. Govt should be neutral toward religion (Atheism is a religion in my eyes). Everyone should display their own and not block out anyone else’s. Libs also want to take away capitalism. I believe that if a honest, hard-working wealthy man shouldn’t have to pay a higher percentage of his money than the rest of us. These changes are not good for America, but not all changes are bad. I marvel at new technologies that come up.

Posted by: stubborn conservative at December 2, 2006 12:41 PM
Comment #197431

I don’t ascribe a value either to optimism or pessimism. We live in such complexity, such an overload of information, that it is dangerous to approach any circumstance with a pre-supposed stance. I think about the black and white views that many conservatives take regarding the issues of the day: homosexuality, abortion, Iraq, morality, science, gun control and it impresses me both how little thought is required when one holds that the ethics are never affected by the situation and how quickly it all breaks down when the situation is directly affecting you!! So, taking a few examples:
Jim and Sarah Brady and their promotion of gun control. I would have assumed that they were both basically pro-gun ownership with little or no control prior to the Reagan shooting.
Dick Cheney. A conservative’s conservative who refrains from taking all the cheap shots (ha! I made a funny!!) that come from the right and who does not back anti-gay legislation. Why? Because his daughter is gay.
William Bennett. As big a phony as they come, who presumes to lecture the world on his view of morality, but curiously exempts his own addiction to gambling as having “nothing to do with moral issues”.
Nancy Reagan, who I’m sure, prior to her husband’s illness, (what was his name again?) would have “just said no” to stem cell research.
Conservatism is wholly dependent upon simplicity of thought, acceptance on faith, firmness of moral standard and I’m not surprised that they are judged to be optimists.
I have to ask, taking a prominent example, Iraq, how well has this “stay the course” “victory is the only option” optimism served the interests of the nation?
Read Bullock’s biography of Adolf Hitler. What one can say clearly is that, if nothing else, the man was an optimist!! (the subject, not the author). Think about this guy. He was living in abject poverty under a bridge in Vienna in 1912; twenty-five years later, he was arguably the most powerful man in the world! Just look at a the condition of a homeless person today and imagine that he would be the most powerful man in the world in a quarter century. It gives one a glimpse at the impossibility of it all.
He achieved much through his ambition and positive mental attitude (optimism), but what good did it do the world? Regards

Posted by: charles Ross at December 2, 2006 3:34 PM
Comment #197432

Woody M.

“You sound kind of, er, pessimistic about the state of Michigan.”

Nope. Just stating the facts. The governor’s plan hasn’t changed since she entered office, but the job front has dropped every quarter. Those facts don’t dictate how I will live. But they do dictate how the Dems in Michigan live.

S.C.
“Not all change is good.”
Agree. Most of the changes suggested by the Dems who over-ran congress fit the category of “not good.” In this category is “minimum wage” (READ: pay increases for people with no skills), instead of training incentives for citizens. No wonder uneducated illegals want to come here!

Posted by: Don at December 2, 2006 3:49 PM
Comment #197434

Charles Ross

Very simple. Glad you can see the world so clearly in black and white.

Posted by: Jack at December 2, 2006 4:15 PM
Comment #197448

Jack, Median wages is a BULLCRAP stat. To raise the median wage, you only need to increase the very wealthiest earnings by 5%. Voila, Median wages have risen. Doesn’t do crap for the other 90% of folks in America which is one of the reasons your party was ousted from the majority in BOTH Houses of Congress.

You can’t BS the working people with Median wages crap like this anymore. I don’t know if you are just spinning for your party, or you simply don’t understand elementary statistics. But, your postulation that Median wages coming up as a reflection of anything good happening for middle and lower class workers is pure erroneous use of the statistic.

The Economy improves when the vast majority of its consumers experience financial situation improvement. AND THAT MY FRIEND, has not been happening for the most part by a large number of measures.

Posted by: David R. Remer at December 2, 2006 6:55 PM
Comment #197455

Thank God for liberals. We expect civil rights for all. We expect equal protection under the law, for everyone. We expect habeus corpus,authorities seeking warrants. We expect freedom to mean freedom. Not what some signing statement signing, mealy mouthed authoritarian says it means.We expect free enterprise, yes CAPITALISM (gasp!), except we also expect that the little guy doesn’t get trampled underfoot by it. We expect freedom of the press. We expect each and every vote to count. We expect a fair chance for all Americans. Every last one. And we tend to get pissed, even a little pessimistic, when some, or even all of these seem in danger.

“The dumb are cocksure, the smart full of doubt”…..hmmmm.

Many conservatives are anything BUT conservative when they want to overturn many of our long standing and cherished freedoms out of fear. Conservatives are cynical, want to stifle speech that they find threatening. Conservatives want to get theirs, NOW, and if the environment feels some pain as a result? Oh, well.

Really though, the bottom line for me, is that optimists are optomistic, and pessimists are pessimistic, whatever their political pesuasion.

Posted by: Steve Miller at December 2, 2006 7:54 PM
Comment #197458

Jack;
Finally, a cogent response A sincere thanks for that. I can certainly understand the “strength to change the things I can…” persepctive. So I will take the Socratic method here.
You specifically stated : “liberals might feel guilty that their Nikes were made in a sweat shop. I don’t.” So, you don’t think twice that the people who make your clothing live in the equivalent of economic slavery, or at least indentured servitude. Fine, it is not within your power to change that. However, you are a fanatic supporter of the free market, and it is that “free market” that enabled corporations such as Nike and nations such as Neo-communist China to abuse people for their own economic gain. Yet, you claim a moral high ground.

1) How can you justify your support of that system without accepting some degree of responsibility for the results of that system.
1a) If you don’t feel the need to justify the results, then please justify how “winning” justifies stomping on the “loser” or how it abrogates your “moral” responsibilities toward others.

2) Although you can not effect the outcome by your individual purchase choice, in the same way an election outcome is not decided (usually) by a single vote, how can you deny that your choice of buying that Nike sneaker contributes to the problem?
2a) Do you not consider your “I can’t change this” an excuse to not act in a behavioral mode consistant with your beliefs?
2b) Even if you can’t “cahnge this,” how can you claim a moral high ground by ignoring it and then belittling those who vocalize and form a larger block (with greater influence) with a desire to “change it”?

I know this isn’t technically a real Socratic dialog, but it’s after dinner, we drank a really nice Reisling (even though I don’t usually like sweet wine), and I hope it’s good enough for a blog. BTW; I still believe you are in double think with the economic data you present but that isn’t a moral issue. Optimism by itself does not mean there will be a good outcome.

Posted by: Dave1-20-2009 at December 2, 2006 8:07 PM
Comment #197460

Don,

Not pessimistic, just stating the facts. Been there, Don. Been there.

Jack, Median wages is a BULLCRAP stat. To raise the median wage, you only need to increase the very wealthiest earnings by 5%. Voila, Median wages have risen.

David,

Sorry, but this is totally off base. In order to raise the median wage, you need to raise the wages of at least half the population. That’s the math.

Now if you want to talk about MEAN wages, then yes, raising wages for the very highest earners would increase the mean (all other things being equal).

Posted by: Woody Mena at December 2, 2006 8:22 PM
Comment #197469

Steve M -
“Thank God for liberals.”

Oxymoron.

Posted by: Don at December 2, 2006 8:59 PM
Comment #197474

David/Woody,

I really respect and enjoy your posts, and agree with them almost all the time. However, re: MEDIAN wages. MEDIAN wage is when half earn above and half earn below. When the top 5% double their earnings, with all else the same, the MEDIAN wage stays the same. The MEAN wage increases although the median wage decreases IN RESPECT TO the mean wage. Median wage going up is usually a good thing.

I don’t know where Jack gets his numbers, mine say that median and mean wages have increased every year. But, what matters much more is the ratio of median to mean and REAL wages, which went down last year. I.e. how much more are the top earning compared to the bottom, the lower the ratio, the more of the pie is going to the higher earner. The ultimate reality is that the vast majority of people are falling far far behind on the wealth curve. I.e. The wealthiest don’t just EARN more INCOME, they OWN more WEALTH. Which, without estate taxes, IS NEVER TAXED. (That CAPS thing is FuN :-))

By the way, to find wage data, just go to the feds here and here

Posted by: Dave1-20-2006 at December 2, 2006 9:54 PM
Comment #197475

“Oxymoron”…because? God doesn’t like liberals? Liberals don’t believe in God? 90+% of all the liberals I know believe, as I do, in God. I really don’t have a clue what you mean by that.

Posted by: Steve Miller at December 2, 2006 9:56 PM
Comment #197477

Dave,

Take another look. We agree about the math.

Posted by: Woody Mena at December 2, 2006 10:32 PM
Comment #197480

Ooops, my bad Woody…Thanks for the heads up.

Posted by: Dave1-20-2006 at December 2, 2006 10:51 PM
Comment #197484
I guess that is why the Dems are so full of new ideas, like keep SS in its 1935 form, preserving relationships of the 1960s and making sure “dangerous” new technologies are regulated by what they call forward thinking bureaucracies.

SS is a liberal program that conservatives want to eliminate because they’d rather go back to the comforts of feudalism. I don’t know what you’re talking about when you mention “preserving relationships of the 1960s.” And regulating new technology is prudence. Experimentation does not equal haphazard and capricious tinkering. And it’s not like they want to ban stem cell research or anything.

Besides, I’ve got nearly all of human history to demonstrate the reluctance of conservatives and the daring of liberals. If you want to point to the entrenchment of corruption and stagnation of Democrats be my guest but it won’t invalidate my point.

Liberals want to take away what this country was founded upon.

This is even more vague than Jack’s response, stubborn conservative. I need more information. What do you believe the country is founded upon? How do you see liberals trying to take that away?

Liberals like free speech, but conservatives want to sensor profanity. I wouldn’t want children to listen to garbage.

Free speech should be free. Censorship is censorship. It’s pretty straightforward. Your concept of “garbage” is yours and you are free to turn the TV off, or change the channel, or prepare your children to be able to handle the realities of the world while still maintaining the sense of decency that you see fit to imbue upon them. This prudish attitude that you don’t want your children exposed to it and therefore all speech must suffer is the attitude of weak parents who can’t handle the rigors of real parenting.

And seriously, “think of the children” is one of the lamest fallacies.

Another example is the removal of Christianiy in public.

That’s just silly. I think you might mean they don’t want public funds going toward promoting, or seeming to promote, any particular religion over another. I’ll admit some idiots on the liberal side take this way too far but judging all liberals on the acts of a few radicals is like characterizing all conservatives based on Ann Coulter. I’m more of the Jeffersonian approach in that the law should not concern itself with trivial expressions of religion through government as long as they aren’t used as precedence to promote further intrusion of religion upon government, like prudish speech restrictions on the public airwaves.

And wasn’t it a conservative who complained that the first Muslim in congress wanted to swear his oath on the Koran? And said that we should only allow swearing on the Bible? Should I judge all conservatives on the attitude of this idiot?

Libs also want to take away capitalism.

More silliness. I think you might mean they want to regulate capitalism. There isn’t anything wrong with regulating capitalism. It’s absolutely necessary. Laissez-faire capitalism is the road back to robber barons, child labor, and rampant exploitation and abuse. And if you mean to impugn socialistic safety nets in conjunction with regulated capitalism, then that’s just laissez-faire dogma. We are all in this together. American society is not (well, should not be) “I got mine so who cares.”

I believe that if a honest, hard-working wealthy man shouldn’t have to pay a higher percentage of his money than the rest of us.

You do realize that the highest quintile used to pay something like 60% in taxes back in the day, right? What’s their rate today? And how much has the rich/poor gap increased? Also, having the rich pay a greater percentage than the less fortunate is just common sense. Here’s an example I recently brought up before regarding a flat tax scheme: A person making 100,000 a year taxed at 10% would pay 10,000, which means what? no HD TV this year? A person making 10,000 a year taxed at 10% would pay 1,000, which is rent, a few bills, and food for month. That’s not only wrong, it’s malicious.

A rich person can earn (ridiculously excessive) income from (less) labor as well as earn income from surplus money. A poor person earns far less and has extremely little opportunity to accumulate surplus and make their money work for them. Taxing a rich person at a higher rate on their income is relatively painless for them. And if they’re so hard working, and they actually appreciate the community that has given them the opportunity to accumulate that wealth, then they should have no problem giving more in taxes. It’s not like they won’t make more money. And it’s not like they will get taxed out of their tax bracket.

Posted by: Joseph Briggs at December 2, 2006 11:51 PM
Comment #197486

David

Median is the middle income. It doesn’t make any difference at all if the top 10% makes much, much more if the others at least down to the middle do not. It is possible (although not likely) that the top 51% did better and the lower 49% did not, but if 90% of the population did poorly, the median would not rise. BTW the guy at the median is the quintessential middle class earner.

I am just using the same statistics we have used all our lifetimes. If they were good measures in 1998, I expect they are good measures today too.

Dave 1

1. I also know that the free market system I support has produced the highest standard of living for the most people. Free market includes the market mechanism, democracy, the rule of law and reasonable regulation. China does not currently fit the free market definition. But when I consider what China was a few years ago and what it could be, I am not sure we could get a better situation at this time.

I do not believe in stomping on the loser, BTW, and I never do.

2.I do not have the capacity to know whether or not my purchases have a net good or bad effect, in most cases. I am not sure where my Nikes are made. I assume that the people making them got a higher wage working for Nike than they would have made somewhere else. Otherwise I presume they would take the better paying job available.

I know that foreign investment is usually a benefit to the receiving society. If we drive the price of this cheap labor high enough, we will replace them with machines or not buy so many shoes. I do not believe making people unemployed is a good thing.

2a Yes. It is not my business. I own a tree farm. The price of pulp has been low. Tree farmers used to get a fair amount of income from their first thinning. Now it sometimes does not even pay for itself. Do you care? Should you offer to pay more for your newspaper to give tree farmers a “fair price”. Of course you should not. It is not your business. Everything in life comes from someplace. The prices and terms are determined by a series of negotiations that we cannot begin to list, not to mention understand. I paid the right price for my shoes. You paid the right price for your paper.

2b I do not claim high moral ground for not making these things my business. It is just a good pragmatic thing to do. I DO claim moral high ground for handling my own affairs decently and I DO NOT respect people who spend their time fighting for distant causes they probably do not understand while ignoring the problems they can solve closer to home.

Too many people love and want to help all mankind, but cannot think of very many individuals they like and help.

Re wine - Rhine wines are my favorite. I do not like the expensive dry wines. Overall, however, I go for either beer or bourbon. I can do w/o wine.

Re median income the article you link says it “Despite that, real median household income did manage to rise slightly last year, though that small gain was the first increase in household income since 1999.” It will probably be up again even more this year.

You have to remember that most households have some income besides wages. Notice, also when the decline started and think who was president. BTW, I do not blame Clinton, but we sure cannot blame Bush for what happened in 1999. Median income fluctuates. The trend line is up, but it is not a straight line. We have fallen to about the level of 1998. and our real household income is higher than anytime in U.S. history except the period from 1998-2005. And it started to go up again last year. I cannot be too sad about that.

Posted by: Jack at December 3, 2006 12:03 AM
Comment #197494

A few words of wisdom about the working classes and money:

Stay in school. High school diplomas are a must now.

College=chance of a better pay.

FINALLY: Everything comes with a price.

If you become wealthy, most likely you will have to work more and there will be little room for family or sleep. If you are a model/celeb, then you have to keep in shape and the media stalks you.

You can skip school and have your fun, but it will hurt you in the future.

This qualifies for everything in life. Before you decide, is it worth the price?

Posted by: stubborn conservative at December 3, 2006 1:07 AM
Comment #197500

What does research say about conservatives vs liberals?

Speaking of research on the nature of conservatives vs. liberals, I think you’ll find the American Psychologist from Oct 06 (Vol 61) has a great little, 19-page article addressing a healthy portion of empirical studies addressing differences. I’ll list a few of their findings and abbreviated references for entertainment’s sake.

Conservatives, on average, are more rigid and closed-minded than liberals (Adorno et al., 1950).

Conservatives score higher on measures of dogmatism, intolerance of ambiguity, need for order / structure / closure…score lower on openness to experience and integrative complexity (Jost et al., 2003).

Conservatives prefer simple, unambiguous, familiar stimuli (in reference to artistic taste…wonder if that can be generalized to other aspects of the conservative’s personality?; Wilson, 1973).

Conservatives are more likely to perceive the world as a dangerous place (Altemeyer, 1998; Duckitt, 2001)…and to fear crime, terrorism, and death (Jost et al., 2003).

Conservatives are more likely to make internal (as opposed to external) attributions for the causes of others’ behaviors (Skitka et al., 2002). Simply put, conservatives are more likely to assume another’s actions are driven by their personality (who they are) as opposed to situational variables influencing the person’s behavior. This is generally called the fundamental attribution error (see social psychology), and is oftentimes the driving force behind stereotyping.

Conservatives are more likely to engage in moral condemnation of others, especially in sexual domains (Haidt & Hersh, 2001).

Now let’s turn our attention to some of the historical psychological research on dispositional factors that are associated with conservatism and liberalism. Let’s start with the “Big Five” taxonomy of personality traits, which remains among the most popular (and well-researched) concepts of personality. The Big Five traits include Neuroticism (N), Extroversion (E), Openness to Experience (O), Agreeableness (A), and Conscientiousness (C). What has research shown?

Two of the five traits are consistently linked with political orientation in the United States, three are not (Carney et al., 2006; Stenner, 2005):

Liberals scored much higher on openness to experience (and all of it’s subfacets), while conservatives scored slightly higher on conscientiousness than did liberals (particularly on achievement striving and order subfacets).

Interestingly enough, there appears to be some heritability with regard to political preferences. Block and Block (in press) tracked children into adulthood and found children who were seen by their teachers as energetic, expressive, gregarious, self-reliant, resilient, and impulsive were more likely to identify themselves as liberals in adulthood. In contrast, children who were seen by teachers as inhibited, indecisive, fearful, rigid, vulnerable, and overcontrolled were more likely to identify as conservatives in adulthood. (So maybe it’s not all your fault!)

In light of these findings, many of the actions of conservative politicians make a little bit more sense to me (though I still decidedly disagree with many/most of them). Why would “stay the course” be the conservative’s slogan? It’s ingrained in their personality and ideology to resist change…makes more sense. Why not throw corrupt members of Congress out on their ear? Conservatives want to keep the status quo, even in the face of irrefutable evidence that doing so is not in the best interests of “we the people”. Why start an unjustified war based on faulty intelligence and demand it be launched immediately without any forethought? Because we must FEAR others; we’re VULNERABLE to attack from them. Because the WORLD IS A DANGEROUS PLACE! Again, conservatives are just acting out core beliefs in world politics. Conservatives had to go out of their way to label countries as belonging to “the Axis of Evil” (internal attribution regarding the nature of another country) as opposed to trying to understand the historical, religious, and political roots of that country’s ideological make-up. A more “liberal” (and intelligent) approach should seek to address the underlying situational concerns (external attribution) that reinforce others’ behaviors/decisions prior to kicking down the door with guns blazing.

If had to create a stereotype based on the empirical findings listed above, I’d say conservatives simply have little tolerance for ambiguity and must resort to black-and-white thinking/decision-making, rigidly cling to the status quo (even failed policy), oversimply processes due to decreased tolerance for integrative complexity, are motivated (and motivate others) by fear, and enjoy passing judgment on others in their spare time. If the shoe fits…

Having said all that…
I figured I’d stir up the hive a bit with my partisan rhetoric. In truth, I think the latest brand of political conservatives have robbed your party of its credibility, sabotaged many of your core values (e.g., fiscal responsibility, etc), and polarized those who long for moderate conservatism (I certainly wouldn’t be opposed to it). I long for the day when we can function in a bipartisan fashion without enmity, and I’m also aware my comments above don’t always aid that process along. My goal is really to 1) point out that there are a number of empirical, controlled studies that address differences in liberals and conservatives, and 2) recognize these psychological differences have likely influenced policy decisions. I hope you found it both informative and marginally entertaining.

(I’d have posted this as a separate topic, but I haven’t applied for nor been accepted as an editor at Watchblog.)

Posted by: Dr D at December 3, 2006 2:55 AM
Comment #197545

Dr. D

I would have a lot more confidence in your studies if I thought there was a clear, consistent and historically accurate definition of conservative v liberal.

In the American conservative supports the free market, traditional American values, smaller government and a strong national defense. Conservative in other places is not the same and neither is conservative in other times.

We would agree that Ronald Reagan was conservative? After the fall of communism in E. Europe, those whom Ronald Reagan supported (and those revered him) were called “liberals”. The supporters of the communist were called conservatives. Since Reagan was on the side of the anti-communists and the communists were against him, does that mean Ronald Reagan is now a liberal? I bet that in a couple of decades he will be seen as liberal, much as Theodore Roosevelt has been more or less welcomed into the fraternity today.

So it is easy for academics to find all sorts of things because they can define their subjects after the fact or as they want.

Of all politicians alive today, the one with the most new ideas is Newt Gingrich. If he going to be called liberal?

What happened in our country is interesting. In 1933, conservative came to mean those who wanted to maintain the free market in the face of growing government. They were defending the establishment. By 1970 big government had become the establishment. But we were already investing in the names. Those seeking to prevent change or ensure that change would be along the same big government trajectory were still called liberals. Those who wanted to reform the system and allow for more choices for people were called conservatives.

We also need to look multidimensionally, but let’s take the simple welcoming or hindering change and let’s use George Bush. Set aside whether or not you agree with Bush. What has he gotten in the most trouble for? Change.

His foreign policy, especially toward the Middle East, was a significant departure from the policy followed by the U.S. since 1948. It was change. His proposals for SS were a radical departure from the system in place since 1935 and they are different from any system previously used in the U.S. Those with no tolerance for ambiquity and change were against it. Bush’s immigration proposals are also a departure from previous policy. Who is for “change” and how is against it.

Your studies might be fine internally, but they do not respond properly to reality. They choose their subjects based on their precooked ideas and then proudly say that they proved what they said, because they said so.


Posted by: Jack at December 3, 2006 2:29 PM
Comment #197556

Steve Miller -
“I really don’t have a clue…”
Well said!

An oxymoron can be purposeful. The liberals I know would be offended if you were to mention them in the same breath with “God”, unless you were swearing; but then I’m from a blue state and there’s alot of swearing.

Those liberals who do believe in “god” HERE usually refer to “her” as being the “mother of the earth” and they don’t thank “her” for anything because they (the liberals) claim to be the only wise beings around; believing that all others should bow and worship them. If I believed in them I would be depressed.

Posted by: Don at December 3, 2006 4:01 PM
Comment #197574

I’m with Jack on this one. I don’t take seriously these psychological analyses that say Republicans like authoritarianism or whatever, or that Democrats are less compassionate or whatever. Even if true, so what? These characterizations get us nothing except some talking points that entirely ignore the fact that we should debate political proposals and philosophy on the merits of evidence and reasoning. Otherwise, we are engaging in a form of ad hominem attacks.

Posted by: Trent at December 3, 2006 6:44 PM
Comment #197582

Jack,
I think you make some excellent points, and I’d have to say I agree with at least 90% of them. You’re absolutely correct when you imply the definitions of liberal vs conservative are bound by country, culture, and cohort. I think your discussion highlights the relative futility of overgeneralizing and making far-reaching statements about the nature of “conservatives vs liberals”. Yet, we do it all the time here and in real life.

Having said that, I think it’s easy to discount the external validity of the aforementioned studies since conservatism and liberalism are culturally and temporally bound ideas. However, you should note most (not all) of those studies were performed within the past 10 years and most (not all) were done in America soley on Americans. Given this consideration, I would wager the studies are fairly representative of current liberal vs conservative distinctions.

You’re right though, even the best researchers have agendas and preconceived assumptions that influence what they study and how they study it. Bias-free research is the exception rather than the rule.

As for Bush’s policies, I’ll hold my tongue (pen) for now. You’re right, many of Bush’s follies are due to ill-informed change (my opinion). However, the rigidity of his approach combined with his unwillingness to modify faulty policy points to a “conservative” approach (per research listed above) to change. Sounds rather like an oxymoron doesn’t it?

Anyhow, I think the take-home message here (for me at least) is we all (both sides of the aisle) stereotype a bit too much regarding others’ character and platform. I think the two party system encourages this.

Don,
Thanks for backing up my point about stereotyping. :-)

Posted by: Dr D at December 3, 2006 7:12 PM
Comment #197587

Trent,
You posted while I was writing my last reply. I think we’re probably on the same page. Both groups tend to make stereotypical characterizations of the other that may or may not be true of any single individual. You’re right, we should be talking about issues, not generalizations. The problem is, it’s easier to fall back on stereotyping when our understanding is inadequate for debate based on evidence and reasoning. We have a tendency to “have something to say” even if our understanding is insufficient to add anything productive to the discussion. I think we all do that at times, and I wish we didn’t.

Posted by: Dr D at December 3, 2006 7:26 PM
Comment #197630

Jack,

Thanks for the reply. I think you avoided the fundamental issues of the questioning, but that’s alright.

trent,Dr D,

Although issues should be the “issue”, isn’t the root of the political disagreements related to the fundamental sets of priorities each side has? And isn’t that set of priorities driven by the core personalities and experiences of each of those people? Two people always see the same event differently.

finally (I’ts Monday and going to be a very busy week) Isn’t one problem of Conservative vs. Liberal the definition? The biggest headache I got from the (r)wing in the last 20+ years has been a theft of the vernacular and redefinition of terms. CONSERVATIVE can be a POLITICAL PHILOSOPHY or it can be a BEHAVIOR. Conservative and Rightist are different, although often come together. Confusing the two, combining the two, for both CON and LIB is faulty in the end.

Have a great week y’all… Nice to hear from a new intellect D.

Posted by: Dave1-20-2009 at December 4, 2006 9:33 AM
Comment #197656

Speaking of Bush lying….
I saw this headline on CNN today.

Bush meets Shiite.

I’ve always called it Bushit myself.

We know conservatives are lying sacks of shiite and that they are anal retentive as evidenced by the research someone did at Yale or Somewhere recently, or as evidenced by this thread.

Posted by: gergle at December 4, 2006 1:33 PM
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