Monday, February 10, 2014

Lazy journalism, or malicious?

Cenk Uygur is right. Even I tend to use "progressive" instead of "liberal," since the later term has developed all sorts of negative connotations, thanks to decades of concerted right-wing effort.

Well, they're good at that. They're good at labels. They're good at sound bites. They're good at propaganda. (It's just effective policies that they're hopelessly inept with.)

But if you look at the policies, if you look at the issues, Americans are generally far to the left of the Republican Party. Even Republicans themselves, to a surprisingly large extent. In general, we're even to the left of the Democratic Party (which doesn't take much, despite the hysterical rants about 'socialism' coming from the right).

If you want to follow up on this, here's an excellent article:
And if it always seems to happen this way – with the whole political system gravitationally sliding off to the right, not the left. A recent paper suggests why: American politicians, whether they're liberal or conservative themselves, chronically misperceive the voters who elect them as more conservative than they are.

Before last November's nationwide elections, David Broockman and Christopher Skovron, political scientists at the Universities of California and Michigan, asked almost 2,000 state-level political candidates about their voters' views. How did people in their district feel about same-sex marriage being legal, or whether the country needs universal healthcare? What were their views on abolishing federal welfare programs?

"Pick an American state legislator at random," Broockman and Skovron report in a new summary at the Scholars Strategy Network, "and chances are that he or she will have massive misperceptions about district views on big-ticket items, typically missing the mark by 15 percentage points."

The mismatch is most extreme among conservative politicians, who typically overestimate their voters' conservatism so much – by 20 points, on average – that they're essentially claiming their district is more conservative than the most conservative district in America. Most of those conservatives are sure their voters agree with them on same-sex marriage and healthcare – but in three-fifths of cases, they're wrong. ...

The explanation for all this isn't necessarily cryptic, and Broockman and Skovron hint at what's probably at the root of it: conservatism talks louder, because conservatism talks with more money, because people with plenty of money tend to prefer conservative policies.

But labels are easy - misleading, sure, but very easy. Easy for journalists and easy for their viewers/readers. No one wants to take the time for a discussion these days, and a label is a perfect shortcut - as long as you don't care about the truth of what you're saying.

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