Sunday, December 23, 2018

Prius or Pickup?

Political power comes from accurate analysis of voters.  In this age of American partisan voting the contest is very competitive and the consequences can be frightening.  Another book brought to my attention by Fareed Zakaria

The authors contend that the answers to four apparently non political questions can tell a lot about a voter and why there is such a divide in America.  The outcomes of the four questions can be applied to many situations.

Here are the four questions that respondents are requested to indicate a preference: with respect for their children
                    1).  independence vs respect for elders.
                    2).  obedience vs. self-reliance
                    3).  curiosity vs. good manners
                    4).  being considerate vs. being well behaved.

The answers would be classified by worldview as fixed, fluid or mixed.  The fixed tended to prefer authoritarian parenting and set in life style while fluid were more nurturing and open minded.  Mixed were the ones who did not answer all questions consistently and thus might bend a little either way.

You might guess that the fixed worldview tends to vote Republican and that fluid tends to vote Democrat and generally that is true.   Race turns out to be an offsetting factor.  Many blacks, Muslims and Hispanics are naturally fixed in their world view, but the Republican leaders cannot avoid offending many minorities, because their base wants them to stand up to the minorities including the LGBT community.  Race can even modify some fixed views as when Obama supported same sex marriage and many blacks followed the change in attitude.

In addition to the direct political links there are endless non political links that reinforce the political choices.  Most Fixed stick with traditional food, entertainment, fashion, education, etc.  Fluid are more open, even seeking new things. This leads to segregation based on worldview making it more difficult to change attitudes.  Check a related blog on attitudes to novelty:

Partisanship has intensified significantly since 1990.  There is hatred not just for the opposing party, but to those people who claim loyalty to the opposing party.  Amazingly facts do not matter so much as each side is capable to spinning information to defend their loyalties.

Mixed worldviews are closer to fixed than they are to fluid, especially with regard to racism and immigration.  Fear shifts everyone.  Trump's campaign emphasized things to be afraid of.

Europe is showing similar trends, although there are significant differences.  They examine the United Kingdom, Germany, France and Denmark that are all experiencing growth of right wing parties. There is greater inequality in America than in Europe.  It appears that wealthy American interests have been well served at the expense of the less well off.  Offsetting this to some extent is that large corporations do realize their interests are best served by being fair to minorities.

The authors close with a quote from Abraham Lincoln.  "a house divided against itself cannot stand."  Their concern was that the conflicting worldviews need to work together on a global scale.

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