Tuesday, June 29, 2004

David Brooks: Age of Political Segregation

Is the information age responsible for an increasingly polarized American society? In today's online edition of The New York Times, David Brooks asks this question, and provides compelling evidence for the affirmative:

"I've been writing about polarization a fair bit recently, and the more I look into it, the more I think I'll just move to Tahiti. That's because the causes of polarization — at least among elites — have little to do with passing arguments about the war, the Bush leadership style or the Clinton scandals. The causes are deeper and structural ... to a large degree, polarization in America is a cultural consequence of the information age. This sort of economy demands and encourages education, and an educated electorate is a polarized electorate.

As examples of this, Brooks offers the following points:

+ That's because college-educated voters are more ideological.

+ Once you've joined a side, the information age makes it easier for you to surround yourself with people like yourself. And if there is one thing we have learned over the past generation, it's that we are really into self-validation. * Editor's Note: This is so true! Why else do I blog?

+ We don't only want radio programs and Web sites from members of our side — we want to live near people like ourselves ... the political result is that Republican places become more Republican and Democratic places become more Democratic.

+ When we find ourselves in such communities, our views shift even further in the dominant direction. You get this self-reinforcement cycle going, which social scientists call "group polarization."

+ People lose touch with others in opposing, now distant, camps. And millions of kids are raised in what amount to political ghettoes.

Brooks is worth a regular indulgence for a multitude of reasons. Not only is he amazingly erudite, but he's eminently sensible and always a gentleman. That can't be said for his colleagues in Op-Ed at The Times. Go and read the whole of it.

TCS: "The Real Air War Has Now Started"

Tech Central Station online has an essay by James K. Glassman that everyone concerned with the affect of left-leaning non-profit media sites on the presidential election should read ...

" A free-market conservative organization -- called a "527 political organization" after a section in the tax code -- goes public on Friday with hard-hitting independent issue ads on television. It's about time.

The ads ask viewers to imagine how Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass), the likely Democratic presidential candidate, would have reacted to the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, especially considering his voting record of opposition to spending on measures to increase U.S. security.

The ads, which may provoke an uproar in the media because they show footage shot at the World Trade Center site after the attacks, contrast Kerry's likely reaction to the courage and determination shown by President Bush.

The new commercials, the work of the Progress for America Voter Fund, place conservative messages on a field that has been dominated, up until now, by the Left."

Of course, the LLL's are livid at the thought. (BTW: Don't bother trying to equate this with the Liberal's latest rant - that the media is controlled by the Vast Right Wing Conspiracy (VRWC), the proof of which can be found in the advertising embargo on Michael Moore's "FarenCrap: 9/11" - they'll never see the light of reality.) LLL's will also try to paint Progress for America as not being eligible for designation as a 527. This can be a dangerous tack for them to take, as the media/internet darling MoveOn.org, a creation of the truly nefarious George Soros, is also a 527:

"According to press reports, liberal 527s, including the MoveOn.org Voter Fund, the Media Fund, and Americans Coming Together (ACT) have had a huge head-start, fueled in large part by the donations of one person, the billionnaire George Soros, for whom defeating George W. Bush has become an obsession. Soros has given $2.5 million to MoveOn and $10 million to ACT.

Soros's spending makes a mockery of the intentions of the McCain-Feingold campaign finance law, which sought to bar large contributions. Critics of McCain-Feingold pointed out the loopholes, but the bill passed anyway, and groups backing Democrats immediately exploited it.

Through April 15, the latest reporting period, MoveOn had spent $15 million; the Media Fund, $10 million; and ACT, $11 million. MoveOn's commercials have been especially inflammatory. In January, MoveOn apologized for posting on its website two commercials that compared President Bush with Adolf Hitler.

The playing field is on its' way to becoming level, despite the early attempts by Soros and his ilk to prevent conservatives from being able to share the media pulpit. You can be certain there's a great deal of concern yonder the Democratic National Committee's way, as it would appear their media & internet advantage is short-lived.