Tuesday, March 27, 2007


The Pew Research Center survey I wrote about yesterday has provoked some interesting discussion on the blogs. John Quiggin suggests that we might see "Eumerica" in the making: a situation where the Democrats and Independents in the U.S. acquire social and political values similar to those currently dominant in Europe, whereas the hard-core Republican base will drift ever further away from all this (toward what? Talibamerica?)

I doubt that this will happen unless the hard-core base is seen as an ever-dwindling one, given that the proportion of the Pew survey respondents which chose the most socially conservative answers was quite a lot lower than the 25% of the population that is supposed to be Bush's base. In any case, a very small hard-core base of Talibamericans wouldn't have much political power on their own. But something else Quiggin notes is quite interesting:

On the other hand, Republican support is contracting to a base of about 25 per cent of the population whose views are getting more extreme, not merely because moderate conservatives are peeling off to become Independents, but also because of the party's success in constructing a parallel universe of news sources, thinktanks, blogs, pseudo-scientists and so on, which has led to the core becoming more tightly committed to an extremist ideology.

Kevin Drum wonders if the possible back-firing of the separate right-wing universe might mean that the liberals and progressives shouldn't try to invest in their own think-tanks, for example.

I'd argue that the conservative media and research system have served their cause very well indeed, if it helped to bring them to power during the last two decades. What is worrisome from a wider angle is the current situation where like tends to flock with like and debate across the political aisle becomes increasingly difficult, not only because of heightened emotions but because of disagreements about the facts themselves. Those who get their news from Fox are not going to see the same facts as those who listen to the BBC or read progressive blogs, for example.