September 6, 2017


'Negative Partisanship' Explains Everything : Conservatives and liberals don't just disagree--they actually like to hate each other. And it's getting uglier. (ALAN ABRAMOWITZ and STEVEN WEBSTER, September/October 2017, Politico)

If you're confused about why a president whose campaign is under investigation for its possible ties to Russian hackers, whose approval ratings are abysmal only halfway into his first year, whose legislative agenda is already off the rails, and who launches bizarre Twitter rants each day still commands the fealty of the Republican Party, don't be. Donald Trump thrives amid all this chaos because of the rise of a phenomenon that we have labeled "negative partisanship."

The concept is pretty simple: Over the past few decades, American politics has become like a bitter sports rivalry, in which the parties hang together mainly out of sheer hatred of the other team, rather than a shared sense of purpose. Republicans might not love the president, but they absolutely loathe his Democratic adversaries. And it's also true of Democrats, who might be consumed by their internal feuds over foreign policy and the proper role of government were it not for Trump. Negative partisanship explains nearly everything in American politics today--from why Trump's base is unlikely to abandon him even if, as he once said, he were to shoot someone on Fifth Avenue, to why it was so easy for vulnerable red-state Democrats to resist defecting on the health care bill.

The value of pure partisanship is that it liberates people from the need to think; it thrives on pure emotion.  And given that there are no policy differences between parties anymore, it alleviates that annoying sense that you are a Republican who basically agrees with the UR or a Democrat who agrees with W.  You can hate them for who they are instead of what they are. It provides clarity.

Posted by at September 6, 2017 7:41 AM