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Saturday, June 05, 2004

Real "real life" 

The Circling the Wagons
What an odd but interesting column - Brooks writes
"In a perfectly rational world, citizens would figure out which parties best represent their interests and their values, and they would provisionally attach themselves to those parties. If their situations changed or their interests changed, then their party affiliations would change."
Well, I never thought Canada was particularly rational, or Britain, or France, etc, but this is exactly what happens in all of those countries. The parties have a core of supporters, but there is a large (likely 50 to 60 percent) swing vote.
Then Brooks says "But that is not how things work in real life [presumably he is actually talking only about American life, but he doesn't specify]. As Donald Green, Bradley Palmquist and Eric Schickler argue in their book, 'Partisan Hearts and Minds,' most people either inherit their party affiliations from their parents, or they form an attachment to one party or another early in adulthood. Few people switch parties once they hit middle age. Even major historic events like the world wars and the Watergate scandal do not cause large numbers of people to switch."
Perhaps this is how Americans are, though I do not believe it really, but this is definitely not how the rest of the world works.
Brooks continues "Drawing on a vast range of data, these political scientists argue that party attachment is more like attachment to a religious denomination or a social club. People have stereotypes in their heads about what Democrats are like and what Republicans are like, and they gravitate toward the party made up of people like themselves."
And isn't this scary? This seems to accept partisanship as a state of being so profound, so deeply rooted, that it is impossible to change it.
Rubbish! What these political scientists apparently didn't consider, and Brooks neither, is that the US style of partisanship, which has only been in existance since the mid-80s really, is an aberration. This isn't the way most democracies actually work. People in the United States are no stupider than people anywhere else. And if the rest of the world doesn't consider political affiliation to be a genetic trait, why should America? Its that attitude that got you into Iraql

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