We’re polarized as a nation (but it could be worse)

REUTERS/Gary Cameron
President Obama has had an average approval rating of 81 percent among Democrats, but just 14 percent among Republicans.

How polarized are we across party lines?

Well, according to at least one fairly reasonable way to measure it, polarization is the worst in modern political history.

Pollsters have been regularly measuring the approval ratings of presidents since the Eisenhower administration. And, of course, every president has a significantly higher approval rating among members of his own party than among members of the opposition party. For example, in an average of polls taken during his eight years in office, Eisenhower had an approval rating of 88 percent among Republicans and 49 percent among Democrats, so the gap was 39 percentage points. The size of that gap might sound high on first hearing, since we think everyone liked Ike.   

Skipping all the way ahead to President Obama, he has had an average approval rating of 81 percent among Democrats, but just 14 percent among Republicans. That 14 is a record low for any president’s approval rating among the opposition party, and the size of the gap between the approval by the two parties (67 points) is the also a record width.

If you think this is all about Obama Derangement Syndrome, that’s too short-term of a thought.

From Eisenhower (1953-61) until Jimmy Carter (1977-81), the gap in approval by party stayed within a fairly small range. (Carter’s gap of 27 was actually the smallest ever measured, but that’s because his approval rating fell quite low among his own party.)

Then Ronald Reagan set a new polarization record (according to this measure). The Gipper had an average approval rating of 83 percent among Repubs, but just 31 among Dems, for a gap of 52 points. But this kind of gap became the new normal, with a slight upward curve. Bill Clinton broke Reagan’s polarization record with a gap of 53 points, then George W. Bush broke that with a new record, 58, and now comes Obama with the biggest gap and the biggest jump in the size of the gap, 67 points.

The movement has mostly occurred on the opposition-party side of the equation. Ike and Obama both had approval in the 80s from their own party. But in the less polarized 1950s, Ike had an approval rating of 49 percent of members of the opposition party. Obama’s approval among Republicans started out below 25 percent and has fallen steadily into single digits so that it averages out at just 14 percent and will almost certainly fall lower during his final year in office.

All of this is just another way of illustrating the steady descent of the country into more and more polarization along party lines.

You think it’s bad now…

When I recently hit upon the Pew study where these numbers come from, I was going to write a piece saying this is the most polarized our nation has ever been. And it is, in the era of polling. But at the same time I have begun reading Harold Holzer and Norton Garfinkle’s new book about Abraham Lincoln and his economic views, titled “A Just and Generous Nation.” Chapter 3 begins thus:

Abraham Lincoln won election as president of the United States by carrying every Northern state except New Jersey. No candidate…had ever before taken the presidency with such an exclusively regional vote. Lincoln failed to carry a single Southern state — and his name did not even appear on the ballot in ten of them.

Holzer and Garfinkle add that, while Lincoln was on the ballot in some southern states, he carried only 2 percent of the total vote in the South. In Kentucky — which, ironically, was the state of Lincoln’s birth — he got less than 1 percent. There has never been U.S. election that divided so totally along sectional lines. And, of course, Lincoln’s election led fairly directly to the secession crisis followed by the Civil War. So, you see, I believe that there have been more polarized times in our history, not that this should really make you feel any better.

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Comments (60)

  1. Submitted by Paul Brandon on 02/04/2016 - 09:34 am.

    The next question

    To what extent has this been powered by communications technology which makes it easier for the opposition party to rally support for a negative policy towards the majority party?

  2. Submitted by Ken Wedding on 02/04/2016 - 09:51 am.

    Thanks for the lessons

    Once again, Eric, thanks for the lessons on 19th century and 20th-21st centuries history and politics.

  3. Submitted by Tate Ferguson on 02/04/2016 - 09:58 am.

    “We” are polarized?

    Good points, Mr. Black. But I think you mean to say that “those who think and feel intensely about politics” are polarized. What percent of the US population is this? I suggest that it’s a small minority – though it might be a majority of those who follow MinnPost.

  4. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 02/04/2016 - 10:13 am.

    I’m not so sure

    I know polarization is a popular narrative for the US media but I think it a spotlight on some trees that may miss the forest. While we certainly have several notable blowhards (most of which emerge from the right) populating our media, I suspect the average American is beginning to recognize the fact that our “gridlock” is manufactured for political reasons, not a necessary feature of our government.

    Sure, if you look at the presidential candidates you see some serious polarization, but if you think those candidates actually represent the true breadth of American priorities, dreams, hopes, and aspirations… well is someone made that claim out loud it would comical.

    Sure you can claim that republicans and democrats are polarized, but a funny thing happened on the way to the republican revolution… they lost followers. The number of Americans firmly identifying as republicans has been dropping for several years, and the largest numbers in history are not identifying as independents. Many of the traditional republican hot button issues have completely lost their resonance, witness the Trump phenomena. It looks to me like the American people are actually starting to coalesce around some basic agendas, and they’re looking for candidates that resonate on those issues. We may discover that all this polarization is actually an illusion, an artifact of the parties and media.

    • Submitted by Bob Petersen on 02/04/2016 - 12:48 pm.

      “several notable blowhards”?

      A tremendous majority of those in the media are card carrying Democrats. Not sure why you are placing the blame on Republicans when we have a leader that promised to unite people always has taken the road of inflaming racial divides by never understanding the facts behind things. What led to the ‘Beer Summit’ was the first of many.
      Obama has the worst record because he is the biggest blowhard. The promises he made to even those that die-heartedly follow him have never been fulfilled. The only thing he has done is place future generations at a greater risk with record amounts of debt than ever incurred, even though he lectured all the Senators about in not doing the short time he was a Senator (and one of the few times he was actually present in the Senate).
      So go on and blame the Republicans. They aren’t perfect. But when liberals don’t look into their own house because of problems only makes the divide much worse.

  5. Submitted by Dennis Tester on 02/04/2016 - 10:30 am.

    The game has changed

    It’s no longer a contest between democrats like JFK versus republicans like Dick Nixon, where Kennedy cut the marginal tax rates in half and defended it by saying “a rising tide lifts all boats,” launched a nuclear-armed Navy, and stared down the Soviet Union, and Nixon who created the EPA, Title IX and made friends with the Chinese communists.

    Now the republicans argue about which candidate is the real conservative, and as last night shows, the democrats argue over who is the real “progressive,” with one calling for an actual political revolution and the other saying “yeah, me too.”

    The presidential race could conceivably come down to a contest between an avowed capitalist and a committed socialist. The stakes for the survival of the free market system that built this nation into a world power couldn’t be higher.

    But that’s what conservatives have been warning since Obama and his agenda to “transform America” charmed his way into the White House.

    • Submitted by Neal Rovick on 02/04/2016 - 10:58 am.

      You have it exactly backwards.

      In the past, when there was little regulation and constraint on free trade, the US was not the world economic or military leader.

      The US has emerged as the most vital economy and most powerful nation in the world in conjunction with increased regulation of the free market.

      Go figure that one out.

      And. please tell us which economy in all of the world from any point in history that you want the US to emulate.

      Tell us which economy in the world is doing better than the US today ? Tell us which state economy is doing better than the socialistic hell-hole that is Minnesota.

      It is amazing how people can remain convinced of certain thing when the opposite is staring them in the face.

      • Submitted by C.S. Senne on 02/04/2016 - 11:37 am.

        Reality

        Thanks, Neal. Perfectly said.

      • Submitted by Tim Smith on 02/04/2016 - 03:20 pm.

        are you claiming

        that it is thanks to Obama we are as powerful both economically and militarily? Or precisely when was it that we did? Has there been a time in the last several decades we weren’t?

        Your response perfectly fits the subject. The rooster takes credit for the dawn.

        • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 02/04/2016 - 04:38 pm.

          “The rooster takes credit for the dawn.”

          Name a President who hasn’t done that.

        • Submitted by Neal Rovick on 02/04/2016 - 04:46 pm.

          The last time when we had a “free market” without restraint (as we know it) was in the beginning of the previous century which ended in the Great Depression. There have been ups and downs (such as the GWB term which managed to knee-cap both the economy and military), but relatively constant progress upward and onward has been made.

          You are aware that the much vaunted “middle class” was virtually unknown pre-WW2 ? And, after that period the economy and military strength grew with the economic progress of a large number of well-paid workers working within a society that respected the needs of the people within the a well maintained infrastructure.

          We are facing the same challenges the rest of the world is, and yet we are doing better than many of the other countries. You might someday actually look at the charts and ask why the economy has grown more in Democratic administrations as opposed to Republican, and then tell me why you think Republicans are so much better for the economy.

        • Submitted by Dennis Wagner on 02/04/2016 - 07:09 pm.

          Short Memory!

          DJIA: 2/1/2009 7062.66, 2/1/2016 16336.66
          Unemployment rate: 1/1/2010 9.8, 1/12016 5.0
          1/1/15 Foreclosure rates hit lowest since 2006 (Forbes)

          Militarily: You are correct he didn’t get nearly as many folks killed in foreign intervention as his predecessor.

          Yep: despite dragging near the entire R-party every step of the way, think were we would be with just a “little” cooperation?
          If you can’t recognize success or progress when it is in your face, be curious what real failure looks like?

    • Submitted by James Miller on 02/04/2016 - 12:50 pm.

      Controls

      How do you envision a US economy functioning w/o controls?

      Do you recall any of the financial service institution meltdowns that have occurred in the past 30 years? How many Martin Shkreli’s are out there, driving up the price of goods & services which people depend on, w/o alternative choices?

      What about healthcare? Yes, ACA is flawed. We all know this. Can you look past the flaws and see the good points that didn’t exist prior to its implementation? Have you ever been denied coverage? What sense would there be in throwing it out and starting over again? Look at the numbers. Look at how many people have health insurance who previously didn’t.

  6. Submitted by Jim Million on 02/04/2016 - 11:12 am.

    Cummulative Effect

    Philosophical disagreement becomes dismissal…
    Dismissal becomes polarization…
    Polarization becomes hostility…
    Hostility becomes vitriol…
    Vitriol becomes warfare…
    Warfare becomes mass destruction.

    Have we made ourselves our own refugees?

  7. Submitted by Ray Schoch on 02/04/2016 - 11:35 am.

    Thank you,

    …Mr. Rovick.

    The “free market system that built this nation into a world power” was – and is – a “mixed” economy, with a degree of unfettered capitalism and government regulation and oversight (and involvement) traveling side-by-side in a not-altogether-trusting relationship. It’s a jury-rigged system, but while it wobbles back and forth over the decades, it has (sometimes barely) held together to this point. If there’s a threat to that system today, it comes from the right, not the left.The results when banking regulation, for example, was cast aside at the insistence of “free market” financial interests can be accurately characterized in a single word: disaster.

    Economically and intellectually, today’s “conservatives” have no clothes. They’ve spent tons of money and invested millions of hours of work to erect social and economic straw men, which they then work even harder to destroy, and without success because there was nothing “evil” in place to begin with.

    While most wage-earners have been lucky to see their incomes rise 2 or 3% in the past couple of years, multi-billionaire Jamie Dimon of JP Morgan & Co. just got a 35% raise – and he created no jobs in the process. It’s worth asking who’s being served by calls for a “return to the free market” when that “free market” never existed in the first place, and isn’t likely to be realized now.

    • Submitted by Paul Brandon on 02/04/2016 - 03:17 pm.

      Right as usual

      Unregulated markets are inherently unstable.
      Feedback loops lead to monopolies, not competition.

  8. Submitted by Tim Smith on 02/04/2016 - 12:44 pm.

    you perfectly

    capture the subject matter, fine example! the proverbial rooster always taking credit for the dawn. your last sentence pertains to you and the left as well.

  9. Submitted by Robert Moffitt on 02/04/2016 - 02:49 pm.

    Let’s be honest about Abe

    I never heard about those Southern votes for Lincoln. An interesting fact from our past.

  10. Submitted by Joel Stegner on 02/04/2016 - 05:09 pm.

    Sure it could be worse

    Yes, we could have another Civil War if we let things get too far out of country. With all the guns we have in this country, it is a potentially dangerous situation – more danger from within our borders than from radical Muslim terrorists based thousands of miles away.

    • Submitted by Jim Million on 02/04/2016 - 09:41 pm.

      Doubt this…

      Much of this current racial strife is politically fanned for established partisan reasons–both sides.

      I’m not about to shoot my neighbor, nor do I worry about the Muslim man down the street beheading me, nor about the black woman walking her dog suddenly letting him loose on me. Irrational fears (and for some, beliefs) that are mostly nonsense.

      Most of us treat people as individual people. People in aggregations tend to be a pain in the butt too often. One-on-one, most everyone is civil, cordial, and (yes) friendly. When too people of any sort meet, at least one of them has to say “Hello.” We haven’t yet become Manhattan, Minnesota (have we?).

      PEOPLE: Do not give in to manipulation by professional political marketers. This is the stuff they do in their off seasons to get us to purchase their products during the election seasons. We read it here, and see it everywhere. Do you recall just when BLM Ltd began its cross country tour?

  11. Submitted by joe smith on 02/04/2016 - 06:12 pm.

    The political polarization is bad but not as disturbing as the racial polarization that has been enflamed the past 7 years. It is so bad a Democrat presidential candidate had to apologize for saying “all lives matter”. He didn’t realize that him being white and claiming all lives matter would result in the crowd booing. Racial tension is as bad as it was in the 60’s, another sad development of the past 7 years.

    • Submitted by Roy Everson on 02/05/2016 - 10:54 am.

      Dog whistle

      All lives matter is code for Black lives don’t matter.

      • Submitted by Jim Million on 02/05/2016 - 11:33 am.

        Absolute Slogans

        “All lives matter” may also be code for “Black lives don’t matter more than other lives: red, brown or perhaps even white.” If the slogan simply means “black lives also matter,” it’s simply truism.

      • Submitted by cory johnson on 02/05/2016 - 11:36 am.

        You just proved his point….

        You really think a Democrat was using a racist code? That kind of language will lead never unite us. whatever happened to judging based on the content of one’s character? we’ve gone from striving for equality to trying to mandate outcomes based on ethnicity.

        • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 02/05/2016 - 01:54 pm.

          Mandate Outcome Based on Ethnicity

          If “mandate outcome” is another way of saying “eliminate arbitrary and unnecessary violence by law enforcement based on ethnicity,” I think that is a laudable goal.

    • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 02/05/2016 - 01:51 pm.

      Are You Serious?

      “Racial tension is as bad as it was in the 60’s, another sad development of the past 7 years.” You have to be joking. Everything was getting so much better, and then we go and actually elect one of them, and look what happens.

      Maybe, just maybe, things were not as good as many people like to think. Maybe, just maybe, the racists who could not accept an African American President started coming out of the woodwork. Maybe, just probably, they were emboldened by the bitterness of the opposition to President Obama’s presence on this planet that they felt that their racism truly was acceptable.

      When the dog whistles are ignored, when the insults are “taken out of context and not racist,” when attempts to marginalize racist language and sentiments is sneered as as “political correctness,” it’s a sorry state of affairs that lets anyone blame President Obama for deteriorating race relations.

      I have heard plenty of old school southerners tell me how things were so much better before all that civil rights talk. They were all so happy! Everything was fine! Our race relations were great! Then, the outside agitators came in and started registering them to vote and moving them into white schools. They’re the ones to blame.

      Gee, Mr. Smith, it boggles the mind to think of the progress we would be making in race relations if we had only had the foresight to elect a white man in 2008.

  12. Submitted by Ilya Gutman on 02/04/2016 - 08:33 pm.

    I don’t know if anyone noticed that, to my surprise, all presidents’ approval curves are very similar between their own parties and the opposing parties. The only exceptions are Ford, whose term was very short, and Obama. One can attribute this to Obama Derangement Syndrome among Republicans but the competing theory may be Obama Defending Syndrome among Democrats.

    Mr. Rovick, it is a myth that this country was doing better under Democratic presidents because of their policies. There was a Harvard based research that proved that wrong. So in fact, there is not much difference for economy who is in the White House but there is a big difference in safety and security for all of us (I don’t blame Carter much for poor economy but for Iran’s revolution) … And no one is talking about a market without restraint but it is a long distance between that and total government control.

    Mr. Udstrand, unregulated markets are unstable and so are regulated markets until they become non-markets and then there are no ups and downs – just down.

    Mr. Stegner, how many thousands of people have Americans with guns killed in this century?

    • Submitted by Paul Brandon on 02/05/2016 - 09:09 am.

      Please cite the author(s)

      of the ‘Harvard based research’ that you refer to.
      There are literally millions of research based articles connected to Harvard published every year.

    • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 02/05/2016 - 11:09 am.

      Blame Carter!

      “I don’t blame Carter much for poor economy but for Iran’s revolution.”

      I know this was just an aside, but this is one event from the 1970s that cannot be blamed on President Carter. The roots of the revolution in Iran go back decades, to the 1953 CIA-backed coup that removed a democratically-elected regime. After that, the US continued to prop up the Shah, despite the fact that his regime was murderous and alienated from the mass of the people.

      Science still has a long way to go before Carter Derangement Syndrome is eradicated.

    • Submitted by Neal Rovick on 02/05/2016 - 06:29 pm.

      Gutman says…no one is talking about a market without restraint but it is a long distance between that and total government control….

      Isn’t you claim of “total government control” just as hyperbolic ? Pot, meet Kettle.

      BUT, the fact is, and it truly IS A FACT, the US economy (and in general for the entire world) has grown in correlation with an increase in regulation.

      Can you point out a counter-example?

      One that would support the favorite conservative meme?

      You talk about myths. You might start looking there.

  13. Submitted by Hiram Foster on 02/05/2016 - 05:30 am.

    Polarization is one of those complex statistical artifacts that doesn’t exist in real life. Let’s consider two individuals, x and y. X strongly holds views A. Y just as strongly holds opposite views, anti A. We can say, therefore, that they are polarized. But which individual is polarized? Which individual, through his actions, can eliminate polarization, without changing his genuinely and sincerely held views? This raises the question, if we don’t want to implement the solution, is it really possible that we have a problem?

    • Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 02/05/2016 - 10:10 am.

      Depends who you mean by: “We”

      Just because the political class may not want to solve a problem doesn’t mean the people don’t have a problem.

  14. Submitted by Hiram Foster on 02/05/2016 - 10:33 am.

    Just because the political class may not want to solve a problem doesn’t mean the people don’t have a problem.

    My suggestion is that if something doesn’t have a solution, it isn’t a problem. The fact is people have strong opinions. There is nothing wrong with that. And if having strong means the status quo is polarized, it follows there can’t be anything wrong with that either.

  15. Submitted by Jim Million on 02/05/2016 - 11:15 am.

    Yes, it is

    We must remember that “polarization” indicates the two extremities of continuum. Certainly some problems do exist regardless of our interest to implement solutions. “Sorry, that’s not my problem” seems the ever popular response of the day.

    Some groups, especially various marketers, prefer the polarized consumer, if that extremity benefits the marketing goals. Designing strategies to sell anything to others who slip-slide along the continuum is complicated and expensive, often with uncertain outcomes. Hasn’t the neighborhood saloon pickup truck debate traditionally been about Ford vs. Chevy, with both advocates summarily dismissing the pesky Dodge owner?

    Who in these pages, for instance, focuses on the Independent voter? Independents are simply too unpredictable, and also bothersome in somehow muddling the scheme. Better to be at one pole or the other, it seems, or else be seen as “fickle” rather than thoughtful. “My way or the highway (to Hell, apparently)” rhetoric appears most effective in political soundbites and slogans.

    If we don’t want to implement the solution, it’s likely we just refuse to accept the issue as “our” problem.

    • Submitted by Matt Haas on 02/05/2016 - 07:11 pm.

      It would be easier to discuss

      Independents, and their priorities were they not so often simply folks who do in fact hold ideological positions as polarized and as polarizing as their fellows, yet who wish to distance themselves from any negative interpersonal consequences resulting from the holding of these beliefs. In short, if some feel they are being underrepresented in debate, perhaps it’s due to the fact one actually needs to stake out a position (and defend it suitably) to even HAVE a debate in the first place. That and fact that “thoughtful” is a self descriptor, “indecisive”, “confused”, and “disingenuous” are also descriptors that could just as easily apply on an individual basis. Holding oneself up as a paragon of virtue in a sea of mud doesn’t generally endear one to those slogging on below.

  16. Submitted by Ilya Gutman on 02/05/2016 - 10:17 pm.

    Explanations

    Mr. Brandon, please read this (I was wrong – it was Princeton, not Harvard, research): http://www.factcheck.org/2015/10/clinton-economy-better-under-democrats/.

    Mr. Holbrook, I was not in America when Carter was a president so I cannot have any “Carter Derangement Syndrome.” I don’t want to argue about CIA, the Shah, and 1953 (I would still say that the shah was ultimately a much better choice for Iran than Mosaddeh, the same as Pinochet was a better choice for Chile than Allende, as comparison between present day Cuba and Chile shows) but it is obvious that the Shah was better for America and Carter not only missed an opportunity to keep him at power but helped Khomeini to get to power – and that is one of the greatest mistakes American president ever made (with Shah at power, the Middle east would have been much more stable and America friendly).

    Mr. Rovick, that is exactly what I said – totally free market and total government control have a big gap between them and it is easy to move towards total government control and still stay within regulated market territory. Also, if you think that economy growth is always proportional to (or at least correlates with) government control and regulations, how come the Soviet Union wasn’t the most prosperous country on Earth? Or Cuba? Or Venezuela?

    • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 02/06/2016 - 11:10 am.

      “The Shah was better for America”

      But was he better for the Iranians? Why don’t we ask some, and see what they think?

    • Submitted by Neal Rovick on 02/06/2016 - 02:01 pm.

      Exactly wrong

      You said… There was a Harvard based research that proved that wrong. So in fact, there is not much difference for economy who is in the White House….

      As for your link to that study, it concludes…

      (Quote)

      Summing up, the authors concluded there is “a systematic and large gap between the US economy’s performance when a Democrat is President of the United States versus when a Republican is. Democrats do better on almost every criteria.”

      http://www.factcheck.org/2015/10/clinton-economy-better-under-democrats/

      (end quote)

      Go read it–it helps to read the links that you reference.

      REPEAT “Democrats do better on almost every criteria”.

      So exactly what justification do you have for your counter-assertion besides blind faith in what your thought-leaders say?

  17. Submitted by Dennis Wagner on 02/06/2016 - 12:04 pm.

    Choice?

    The Shah was not a “choice” for the Iranian people. Lets not confuse Rigged, corrupt political systems, military junta’s etc, with choice. Perhaps one should keep in mind that the people (all people) should be free to chose their own leadership, that is an American principle this country was founded on.
    PS: There is always the PS:
    A. Where in the constitution is it stated we have a free market?
    B. Why do folks always forget “The Theory of Moral Sentiments” also by Adam Smith? Yep the one that talks about the moral obligations of a free market.
    PSS: Where on this planet, which country, countries, is an example the USA should be emulating for free market?

  18. Submitted by Ilya Gutman on 02/06/2016 - 05:46 pm.

    who did better

    Mr. Rovick, you should read the entire thing: it says that Democrats did better but just because they were luckier than Republicans in times they governed – it is not their achievement. Basically, it means that Republican presidents had to govern in more difficult times.

    Mr. Holbrook, American president’s job is to do what is better for American people so if the Shah was better for America, that is who he was supposed to support. As for Iranian people, just ask Chileans and Cubans (and Venezuelans, too) – who lives better, freer, and happier…

    Mr. Wagner, the Shah may not have been a choice for Iranians meaning that there was no free referendum but please don’t forget how many times people make the wrong choice even in free elections – just look at Venezuela. And for which government was actually better for Iranians, see my response to Mr. Holbrook above. I still highly doubt that most Iranians liked the Islamic revolution option…And America is the most powerful and wealthy nation in the world – why does it need to emulate anyone but itself?

    • Submitted by Neal Rovick on 02/06/2016 - 10:31 pm.

      So your argument for us to vote Republican is that the Democratic administrations correlation with economic improvements is just luck so go ahead and vote Republican because they’re generally unlucky and govern in unlucky economic times?

      Not very convincing, Mr Gutman.

      Or are you saying that Obama was a lucky-ducky to have inherited the biggest economic collapse from the unlucky Bush.

      Well, luck or policy, the Republicans are losers in an accurate study of economic results.

      • Submitted by Ilya Gutman on 02/07/2016 - 08:30 am.

        Arguments

        My argument is that basing an election choice on correlation between county’s past economic performance and President’s party affiliation is not reasonable. Does winning a lottery qualify anyone for anything? My other argument is that what current Democrats (Obama, Sanders, Clinton) want to do with the economy is way different from what past Democrats (JFK, Bill Clinton) did so liberals should be very careful what they wish for. And my third argument, though not expressed here before, is that the country’s security is very much at stake now and that should be a deciding factor. And, by the way, Democrats were lucky that 9/11 happened during Bush presidency.

        • Submitted by Dennis Wagner on 02/08/2016 - 07:45 pm.

          Sorry dude

          Don’t consider myself lucky that 911 happened on anyone’s watch.
          Different meaning what? That what Cruz, Christie, Rubio and Carson want to drag us back into the dark ages? We know what we are wishing for, and it isn’t for the 1% to get wealthier, while everyone else gets poorer, and abolition of the EPA, work rules, OSHA, healthcare, and the full return of Monopolies and oligopolies, along with Americans being in an everlasting war, except for the privileged of course!

      • Submitted by Ilya Gutman on 02/07/2016 - 01:39 pm.

        My argument is that basing an election choice on correlation between county’s past economic performance and President’s party affiliation is not reasonable. Does winning a lottery qualify anyone for anything? My other argument is that what current Democrats (Obama, Sanders, Clinton) want to do with the economy is way different from what past Democrats (JFK, Bill Clinton) did so liberals should be very careful what they wish for. And my third argument, though not expressed here before, is that the country’s security is very much at stake now and that should be a deciding factor. And, by the way, Democrats were lucky that 9/11 happened during Bush presidency.

        • Submitted by Neal Rovick on 02/07/2016 - 03:30 pm.

          …Democrats were lucky that 9/11 happened during Bush presidency….

          Or perhaps the American people were unlucky enough to have a president that ignored serious warnings about al quaeda, and further unlucky to have a president that reacted like Bush did.

          Or, perhaps, if only Republicans were more religiously oriented–they would see that God favors the Democratic presidents terms with improving economies, if you don’t want to believe in just luck.

          Polcies, luck or God–all favor the Democratic administrations. So why vote Republican?

  19. Submitted by Dennis Wagner on 02/06/2016 - 06:23 pm.

    Circular argument!

    Wrong choice?
    In whose mind? Just because one does not agree does not make it “The wrong choice”
    Suspect you disagree with Obama as my choice, “Surprise he was the right choice”
    So if America is # 1 in free market, what is all the grousing about that we don’t practice free market? Seems self serving to suggest that #1 is not good enough to be # 1?

    • Submitted by Ilya Gutman on 02/06/2016 - 09:47 pm.

      Are you arguing that Venezuelans made the right choice when they elected Chavez and Madugo? And they are making the wrong choice now voting for the opposition because of permanent shortages, sky-high inflation, and high crime? Interesting… The grousing is about liberals’ attempts to move away from (relatively) free market in the direction of more and more regulated market… You misunderstand Republicans…

      • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 02/07/2016 - 01:45 pm.

        Choices

        “Are you arguing that Venezuelans made the right choice when they elected Chavez and Madugo?” The point is that they made their own choice. No, it did not work out well for them, but a free people is free to make mistakes.

        Look at the US. We twice elected Ronald Reagan, and twice elected George W. Bush. Bad choices, but they were our very own.

        • Submitted by Ilya Gutman on 02/07/2016 - 08:30 pm.

          Sure they made their own (wrong) choice. So did the Lybians, and Serbs, and Kosovans, and so on – why did we bomb them? OK, I agree that other countries should be allowed to make their own choice… as long as it doesn’t affect America… and in most cases the choice America imposes on them will be better for them as well – again look where Chile and Cuba are. The Shah was better for Iranians than any other government before and after… and it also served American interests – a perfect combination and Carter ruined it.

          • Submitted by Neal Rovick on 02/08/2016 - 09:46 am.

            It’s a naive, simplistic recipe for disaster to believe that all events that occur anywhere in the world are within the purview and control of the the generally uninformed US or its president or its military.

            Magical thinking, indeed.

            • Submitted by Ilya Gutman on 02/08/2016 - 12:46 pm.

              Not all events are but when they are – and many are – America should not hesitate to interfere to help itself (and the others). It is naïve to let event unfold hoping that things will turn out for the better…

      • Submitted by Dennis Wagner on 02/08/2016 - 07:35 pm.

        Not arguing, showing inconsitency

        Didn’t say anything to that, merely pointed out that the position taken in your opinion infers that your definition of right and wrong is empirical in nature! Wouldn’t one think that a bit arrogant or presumptuous?
        The grousing opinion also again is quite presumptuous, Please show some evidence, a that us progressives are anti-free market. Fact Silicon Valley is not only one of the most liberal/progressive areas in the country/world but also one of the most free market and innovative, per your doctrine that is fundamentally impossible, why? What about Republicans is not understood? (Watch the last 3 debates completely. Seems that throwing out any old bone is a sufficient response, is that Republican?

        • Submitted by Ilya Gutman on 02/09/2016 - 08:29 pm.

          I guess a choice that leads to lack of toilet paper in the stores should be considered wrong in most people’s minds so my opinion is based on facts. An idea of increased government regulations is by definition anti-free market and that is clearly Sanders’ position and also that of most Progressives so again, facts. As for Silicon Valley’s being progressive, I can remind you that the Russian Socialist revolution was financed in large part by the wealthy… And finally, about misunderstanding: most Republicans are not concerned that the current economy is not free-market enough but about moving in the direction of anti-free market which is a progressive agenda.

          • Submitted by Dennis Wagner on 02/10/2016 - 07:47 pm.

            Are we polarized or separated by intellectual values?

            Please stop throwing disassociated bones out thinking they are viable points in a discussion
            So a choice to stop monopoly behavior by a government i.e stopping ($10 a roll toilet paper) is by definition anti free market? Whose definition is that? What fact is it supporting? That monopolies are what the free market strives for, or conservatives or both?
            What does the Russian revolution have to do with Progressives and free markets in Silicon valley?

            Show where progressives are moving anti free market? Unless of course (UN-elected Oligopolies and monopolies that control our government and commerce are the conservatives ideals of what a free market looks like? So that also suggests favoring dumping the patent system, copy right laws, trademarking, duties, tariffs, EPA, OSHA, promoting swindling, removing contracts etc. etc. all tools that restrict the free market.
            The progressive folks are not so white hat black white as your idealistic dream suggests.
            Example: Warren Buffet: anti Free Market, because he has a progressive stance.

            • Submitted by Ilya Gutman on 02/11/2016 - 11:33 am.

              Progressives want to expand a government monopoly – isn’t it what single payor system is? – and that is much worse than business monopoly and works even worse; that is why I pointed out to Venezuela failure to provide toilet paper which is the result of anti-market behavior. Anti-monopoly and anti-market are two different things but are often confused, sometimes deliberately. Do you see $10 toilet paper in America?

              You mentioned Sylicon Valley liberals and I replied that they do not know what socialism is, just the same as wealthy Russian merchants helped Lenin because they thought socilism will make everyone happy; how wrong they were.

              My point is that the system works and most what Progressives want goes beyond of what is necessary and will only result in worse economy. Giving everyone free college education will not work (even Europe does not have it) and $15 minimum wage is copntrary to all economic laws

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