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Ezra Klein, Vox, December 10, 2015: How American politics killed off swing voters
Ezra Klein's article in Vox is revealing:
"A paradox of modern politics is that 1) more Americans than ever are identifying as independents even as 2) fewer Americans than ever switch the party they vote for between elections.
Today's self-identified independents, in other words, aren't very independent — they're actually predictably partisan, at least in the way they vote.
Polarization has made the differences between the two parties so huge that swing voters are a dying breed, and the electorate is increasingly split between those who strongly prefer the Democratic Party and those who strongly prefer the Republican Party."
The graph in Klein's article is revealing. "According to the polarization measures kept by political scientists Keith Poole and Howard Rosenthal, party polarization is higher in modern Congresses than at any time since the late 1800s."
I certainly agree with the assessment that polarization is at its highest since the 1800s. What is harder to grasp is why? My view is that the media has largely contributed to this polarization by dumbing down the issues to sound bites and sensationalism. Media giants like Fox News are not really news outlets anymore. They are highly partisan in the way they put a political spin on events.
Tribalism has also contributed to making a person "lazy" about critically thinking about how the party's platform can affect them. Many are one issue voters...guns, abortion, gays or God. A good example is the voters in Kentucky who just probably voted away their health care benefits:
Esquire: 420,000 Kentuckians May Have Just Had Their Healthcare Voted Away
"Make no mistake. Kentuckians voted to decimate a popular health-care system, and to make Kentucky a right to work state last night. They did so because Bevin mobilized the Kim Davis vote and spread enough Jeebus around that people (again) voted against their own best interests. (Also, it should be noted that Bevin plans to throw responsibility for the poor and the sick onto the rest of us. You're welcome, dickhead.) If your outrage over the treatment of a crackpot goldbricking county clerk outweighs the possibility that your aging grandmother is going to die of a treatable illness then, well, I don't know what to say to you except good luck and enjoy your freedom."
Kentucky is not alone. In my canvassing of neighborhoods and talking to voters in Colorado, I found a lot of ignorance on the issues of the day, but usually the prospective voter could cite one issue that swayed his/her vote. One person who voted for Romney said she did it because she objected to Obama taking Hawaiian vacations at taxpayers expense. Sometimes it is as simple as that.