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Nate Silver is an American statistician and writer. He makes educated guesses on elections and sporting events by studying large amounts of data in an intelligent manner, with surprisingly accurate results. He's not always right. But, more often than not, he is. Or at least he's close.
At any rate, after gaining notoriety for calling a large percentage of elections right a few years back, Silver has ridden that success into a day job as a journalist. Nate is now the founder and editor-in-chief of FiveThirtyEight
, a polling aggregation website under the umbrella of ESPN.
I think this is where he can make some really interesting contributions to the world of politics. In fact, I just read an article of his that I think is worth starting a forum over: Fairness vs. Freedom: Is Politics Going Back to the 1970s?
The main idea is to study the collective language of politicians based on a keyword search for the terms equality, fairness, freedom and liberty in all the recorded Democratic and Republican platforms dating from 1948 to now. The results are interesting to me. I suppose I knew that Democrats were the party of equality, and that Republicans ran on the platform of liberty. But, I have never really heard it boiled down in such a simple way before.
Of course the point of the study was not to just point out a fairly known conclusion such as this, no matter if it is poignant. The point was to show the trends of the language used. For, if you follow the trends and see it on a graph, you can get a sense of where we have been, where we are now, and where we might be going (with the language of politics in general for the future, which in turn will likely be the big talking points that politicians will chose to focus on). He points out that 'equality' and 'inequality' are back on the rise, used more so now by both parties than several years prior. My guess is that no doubt Occupy Wall Street played a part in this. For all the OWS failures, influencing national talking points and language (at least in part) was not one of them.
If words like 'inequality' get used more in political speeches, perhaps we can assume that we are in the birthing stages of at least having a true national conversation of what to do about it. Fairness vs. Freedom. Equality vs. Liberty. These are the big ones that separate the ideals of the GOP and Democratic party, at least in language. ... You should really check out the article. Let me know what you think about the graphics and if you agree with Silver or not. Is politics going back to the 1970's? Interesting question. Interesting data.