Are Americans losing their perspective?

by on October 30, 2012 at 8:00 am in Philosophy, Political Science | Permalink

Being a member of the opposite party often beats religious difference, unattractiveness, and low educational and professional attainment on Ms. Adler’s clients’ list of turnoffs…

“People now say ‘I don’t even want to meet anybody who’s from the other party,’ even if it’s someone who’s perfect in every other way,” Ms. Adler says. In past election years, about a quarter of her clients wouldn’t date a member of the opposite party. Now it is three-quarters, Ms. Adler says.

Here is more.

JoeDog October 30, 2012 at 8:19 am

I get where they’re coming from. If Mrs. JoeDog would have voted for George W. Bush in 2004, I would have divorced her….

anon October 30, 2012 at 10:52 am

For one of my friends, her politics are a substitute for religion.

And it gets tiresome, even if you agree with her.

Andrew' October 30, 2012 at 9:01 am

You know, we could try federalism…NAHHHHHH!!!!

dirk October 30, 2012 at 9:16 am

Roissy can probably explain this.

msgkings October 30, 2012 at 11:50 am

And even if he can’t, he will. Over and over in the tackiest and most obvious of ways.

Urso October 30, 2012 at 9:29 am

Seems like a bs trend piece; this kind of puffery is beneath the WSJ. Look at the “evidence” the author scares up — one quote from the owner of some two-bit matchmaking service, and two interviews. One of the interviewees attends the Republican National Convention; the other thinks it’s a ok to bring up abortion on a first date and writes “exotic and erotic thrillers” in his spare time. These people are, needless to say, pretty far off of the political median. I’d expect them to have strong feelings about dating within their political purview.

But the vast majority of Americans aren’t quite so committed. The question isn’t whether devoted Democrats refuse to date devoted Republicans, it’s whether whether tepid Democrats refuse to date tepid Republicans. That article doesn’t even come close to addressing that.

Bill October 30, 2012 at 9:44 am

You might want to test this some more with your own observations.

Drive through some neighborhoods with different political lawnsigns. Pick two neighborhoods with equivalent income level/housing costs, but different proportions of political party lawn signs. How do you explain the difference between the two neighboods.

Homophily–we like living next to people who think like us in some dimension where we share a common identity.

Unfortunately, political parties have learned to tie our identities to their identity, rather than to our communities as a whole.

As someone once said: We are not a Red State America; We are not a Blue State America…..

anon October 30, 2012 at 10:56 am

Pick two neighborhoods with equivalent income level/housing costs, but different proportions of political party lawn signs. How do you explain the difference between the two neighboods.

In Alexandria, VA, a D stronghold, I am amazed at the number of R signs this election. Many are only Romney/Ryan, a few only Allen, and a few the full R local slate, but in the 14 plus years I’ve lived here this is the most R signs I recall seeing.

Careless October 30, 2012 at 11:51 am

Around here it’s primarily a function of how Jewish the town is.

J1 October 31, 2012 at 10:57 am

One observation I’ve had over the years is that, on average, right-leaning women are a lot more attractive than left-leaning women. That probably explains at least some of the focus on politics.

Jand October 31, 2012 at 11:37 am

In my experience only far/radical-left women are on average uglier than other women.

msgkings October 31, 2012 at 12:58 pm

Jand is correct. The commie/hippie types are rarely attractive. For everyone else looks are pretty evenly distributed.

J1 October 31, 2012 at 7:28 pm

YMMV of course, though we’re definitely on the same page when it comes to the radicals; if nothing else, that drives the left average down. Still, I stand by my original point. Just for background, I’ve lived mostly in flyover states and California, though not (for the most part) in university towns. If you live in NYC or DC the mix may be more even, but nationwide I’d stand by my original statement. On a dating site, if one woman is conservative and one liberal, and everything else in their profile is exactly the same, the likelihood the conservative is better looking approaches 100%.

Dana October 30, 2012 at 9:50 am

The article probably overreaches in trying to redefine dating in America. A more reasonable assessment might be something like “Americans who use dating websites and services are more likely to care about political affiliation.” It seems reasonable to think that people concerned about those sorts of things might be drawn to a form of social interaction that allows you to find out biographical characteristics just as (or more easily) than physical characteristics.

Urso October 30, 2012 at 10:04 am

Good point. Dating websites allow people to set arbitrary cutoffs that they would never set in real life and contribute to the illusion that you can “craft” your perfect met through a set of objective standards. For instance, you can search by height, and a woman could say 6’2″ or taller. She’d never even see a guy who was 6’1″. But on the street, that same woman would never be like “hold on one sec while I pull out this tape measure to ensure you meet my minimum specifications.” Maybe she’d reject a guy who was 5’5″ out of hand, but if the guy was 6’1″ or even 6’0″ she’d probably not even notice.

Andrew' October 30, 2012 at 12:07 pm

If your options are vastly increased, as they are with the internet, why not raise your standards and be as specific as you want to be, especially if you aren’t in a hurry?

Urso October 30, 2012 at 4:35 pm

Because those kinds of “standards” are, at best, very loosely related to whether you can actually fall in love with and spend your life with a particular person.

I read an article about buying a car which said that people tend to overemphasize MPG and horsepower when making their decision. But when you go back 5 years later and ask people if they like their car, better MPG and horsepower have basically zero correlation with their answer. In fact, the number one thing that correlated with liking the car was a well-organized dashboard.

So why do people focus on MPG and horsepower? Because they’re objective, and thus easily measurable. A car that gets 33 mpg is, by definition, “better” than a car that gets 31. It’s not quite so easy to judge which car has the “better” dashboard, or more comfortable seat, or any of a thousand other subtle things. but it turns out those subtle things matter more. So people put undue weight on those things which they can objectively judge.

Bill October 30, 2012 at 9:52 am

A good book on this subject is “Our Patchwork Nation”, a demographic study of US communities written by some Pew researchers. Whenever we travel around the US, I look in the zip code index to understand the communities and cultural/political/economic differences.

Urstoff October 30, 2012 at 9:30 am

This is not a successful mating strategy for members of third parties.

Careless October 30, 2012 at 11:56 am

No, but it can get you around another’s filter.

Mr. Econotarian October 30, 2012 at 11:48 pm

I somehow managed to meet and marry a libertarian!

Thor October 31, 2012 at 12:35 am

But we can’t tell if you are excited or unhappy about this!

FYI October 30, 2012 at 9:34 am

Well, yes… but that is not the best example. Take Sandy for example. Yes, bad storm. Yes, many houses without electricity. But still… Disaster in NY? I mean, 15 deaths are always tragic (1 death is tragic depending on who you are) but this is far from a tragedy. Still, the news industry need a daily controversy, a daily tragedy and people buy it.

By the way, I think we give way too little credit to the media regarding the political polarization. They are the main driver behind it.

ila October 31, 2012 at 4:25 pm

The death toll is not extreme, but the consequences of Sandy are having a huge impact on New Yorkers and people on the NJ/NY coast. Atlantic City is still without power, as is downtown Manhattan. Much of the MTA’s subway is unusable. Jersey City was totally inundated, too. There may not be as many casualties as in the recent Haiti earthquake or Japanese tsunami, but this storm disrupted millions of lives, some very severely. How is this not a huge news event?

Claudia October 30, 2012 at 9:36 am

Puff political journalism for the home stretch. First, don’t successful professionals generally lose their perspective or get deeply wedded to the identy that made them successful? Alder’s clients are older, more established in their political routines. The Match.com sample said they haven’t *changed* their politics for another person. Fine. That sounds reasonable and probably closer to representative of Americans. Odd article with some bizzaro sound bites (“soothes my soul” hack).

Brian Donohue October 30, 2012 at 9:58 am

Lame.

RPLong October 30, 2012 at 10:02 am

One thing I have learned for sure is that one should NEVER, EVER attempt a long-term relationship with someone who does not share one’s basic, core value system. This is probably the single most important lesson I have ever learned about relationships.

So, to the extent that party affiliation is a signal for personal values, I think people should certainly avoid relationships with people from outside their own “side.”

I’m not saying that party affiliation tells the whole story, but obviously someone who is a card-carrying, passionate member of Party A has their work cut out for them when it comes to sharing the core values of a card-carrying, passtionate member of Party B.

The real problem I have with this is that party affiliates are the minority in America. There are not so many Democrats and Republicans as the state would like us to believe. Most of us are “independents” in that neither party no longer represents the average American mind. War? Drone strikes? Socialized medicine? Drug wars? Highest incarceration rate in the world? Most Americans simply don’t share these values, which are firmly established in both parties.

So the article is both right and wrong.

RPLong October 30, 2012 at 10:03 am

Ugh. Please pardon the double-negative in that comment. :S

Gabe October 30, 2012 at 12:15 pm

I agree with RPLong.
I am against the presidential kill list being above the judicial process.
I am in favor of less government and fewer taxes.
I am against the Cuban embargoe and trade sanctions on Iran.

In most cases, I’d refuse to date a brainwashed Republican or Democrat. Yes, most D&R’s are brainwashed.

Andrew' October 30, 2012 at 12:27 pm

Gabe,

Unfortunately I’m not gay. Not that there is anything wrong with that.

Engineer October 30, 2012 at 10:15 am

As a social-conservative-turned-libertarian, I am increasingly feeling that libs/progressives are on another planet when discussing things like the economy or health care. It’s not possible to talk about eg. the virtue of “market-based solutions” vs. regulatory solutions – for libs it’s about letting people die or languish in poverty vs.being caring. And it’s even less productive to try to talk about gay marriage.

10 yrs. from now the divergence may well be even greater: suburbs consisting of right-leaning working families on the one hand, and cities filled with unmarried academics, bureaucrats, and receivers of public assistance on the other.

Claudia October 30, 2012 at 10:31 am

I think this is the downside of marrying late (upsides are likely greater, but still). More and more people are settling into serious relationships after they’ve gotten set in their ways. It’s harder look past the differences. At the start of a relationship in college (which led to a decade plus marriage), I went to Sunday lunch at an ultraconservative minister’s house and had to attend to a church pagent before a sorority dance. I am still an open minded person but there’s no way I would go through such contortions now.

And yet we are always challenged in discussions with “others.” As an economist, sometimes comments from non economists bewilder me (regularly here), but that’s just a challenge of a specialized society.

Roderick Sutherland October 30, 2012 at 11:04 am

Very astute comment indeed – about marrying late.

Although, as a non-economist, I am often equally astounded by the assumptions economists make.

JWatts October 30, 2012 at 5:08 pm

“I am still an open minded person but there’s no way I would go through such contortions now.”

I suspect your definition of open minded isn’t as broad as it used to be.

Claudia October 30, 2012 at 5:25 pm

Actually I am more open minded now. It has good for me to be exposed to experiences and ideas unlike my own. While I see a lot as okay for others…what I see as okay for myself has narrowed some.

efp October 30, 2012 at 12:26 pm

So the answer is yes, Americans have completely lost their perspective.

sailordave October 30, 2012 at 10:21 am

Social issues matter a lot in dating at all stages — can you drink together? eat meat together? go to a friend’s same sex wedding together? use birth control? would you both choose abortion or shotgun marriage? have kids? raise the kids in urban or suburban settings? parochial or secular schools?

these should be issues settled privately by people dating, not by legislatures.

Engineer October 30, 2012 at 10:52 am

Indeed. I try to prevent my small daughter from watching TV shows that encourage materialistic or slutty behavior (even if such behavior is “empowering”). But I don’t mind traditional sex roles. Liberal women are likely to think the opposite.

Miley Cyrax October 30, 2012 at 11:32 am

Some liberals would think you’re an evil slut-shamer and misogynist for you not wanting your daughter to a be a slut.

Claudia October 30, 2012 at 11:37 am

Miley, get off it…you’re dreaming now. I know a lot of liberal (and conservative) mommies and not one of them wants their daughter to grow up to be a materialistic slut. I would guess that at the core they and Engineer want the same things for their daughters. We can accentuate our differences or acknowledge our commonalities. Or we can just be jerks. Choose wisely.

Miley Cyrax October 30, 2012 at 11:44 am

“I know a lot of liberal (and conservative) mommies ”

Believe it or not, there are people in this world beyond your personal social circle.

Claudia October 30, 2012 at 11:53 am

Astute, Miley. I realize you covered your ass with “*some* liberals.” Why didn’t you add a line how “some liberals” want little girls raised to be princesses and would cheer him on. I bet there’s *some* of them too. Rabble rousing just for the sake of it is tiring and politicizes stuff that just ain’t first order political.

msgkings October 30, 2012 at 11:55 am

Believe it or not, Miley, you are completely full of shit.

Miley Cyrax October 30, 2012 at 12:04 pm

‘Why didn’t you add a line how “some liberals” want little girls raised to be princesses and would cheer him on. I bet there’s *some* of them too.’

Because not everyone needs disclaimers to keep their panties from bunching up. Nor am I interested in issuing such disclaimers.

Engineer October 30, 2012 at 12:06 pm

msgkings, the otherplanetary liberal who was outraged about the repressive dress code at my daughter’s parochial school probably views “slutty” behavior favorably (though they would call it “being comfortable” or “celebrating” etc.)

Claudia October 30, 2012 at 12:24 pm

Miley, I want balance (averages not outliers). Putting your name on a post is a disclaimer enough for me. I am not going to find balance here especially on issues involving women/girls. That was my stupid dreaming.

Roger Sweeny October 30, 2012 at 12:32 pm

Yes, indeed. Very few liberals would want their daughters to be sluts. But most don’t feel comfortable disagreeing with people who say it’s empowering or being comfortable with your sexuality or whatever. So they keep quiet, and thus appear more extreme than they really are.

Which raises the fascinating question, why don’t they feel comfortable?

Miley Cyrax October 30, 2012 at 12:39 pm

“Miley, I want balance (averages not outliers). Putting your name on a post is a disclaimer enough for me. I am not going to find balance here especially on issues involving women/girls. That was my stupid dreaming.”

Most fathers and mothers don’t want their daughters to grow up to be materialistic sluts. Seems that we’re on the same page here. Disagreement arose from me remarking that some people would be angry at the aforementioned parenting attitude.

Majority or average opinion isn’t always the best estimate of reality. I have in mind prediction and capital markets… but another time.

Claudia October 30, 2012 at 12:48 pm

Yeah at work we focus on risks (outliers if you will) but it’s all about balancing the risks. You need to understand the various extreme positions…not just one side. If you shine a light on one end of the spectrum while leaving the other in the dark, it’s an unbalanced analysis. If you don’t put all the positions on the table, I can’t even calculate the moments. Glad we agree that parents don’t strive to raise sluts, regardless of their political leanings.

dead serious October 30, 2012 at 2:29 pm

“msgkings, the otherplanetary liberal who was outraged about the repressive dress code at my daughter’s parochial school probably views “slutty” behavior favorably (though they would call it “being comfortable” or “celebrating” etc.)”

Burkas for all girls. Problem solved.

Honestly, you sound like a f*cking idiot.

Engineer October 30, 2012 at 2:43 pm

d. s.: thanks for illustrating my point about the disappearance of a common ground for discussion.

dead serious October 30, 2012 at 3:39 pm

This from a guy who equates non-parochial dress with sluttiness.

Thanks for proving the point that many right-wingers are Mutaween wannabes.

Ranjit Suresh October 30, 2012 at 4:10 pm

The problem is that it’s become a liberal dogma that there are no sluts anymore and that no public figure can legitimately be called a slut.

It does no good to claim that you don’t approve of your daughter engaging in slutty behavior if you’ve ceased to support public disapproval of such behavior.

Andrew' October 30, 2012 at 4:16 pm

The most interesting part of economics is when people take something like this and convert it into economic speak (minus the jargon).

Here is my non-economist example of what it might look like.

Say someone dies and leaves a hot red sports car to the daughters in your family. The problem is the car is a manual transmission and she can’t drive a stick? So, the car is most useful to some of the guys she knows who she happens to know are quite skilled driving a stick, you know what I mean?

So, should she trade rides in her car for some utility, or should she listen to her relatives who think she should keep the car pristine and keep those boys and their Big Mac wrappers out of the car until she and they are old enough to appreciate it?

lemmy caution October 30, 2012 at 7:29 pm

The social control involved with slut shaming is a problem. It is a type of bullying. I don’t want my kids to be fat, weak or smelly, but I also don’t want my kids to be tormented for being fat, weak or smelly.

ladderff October 31, 2012 at 6:43 pm

well you might have to choose. If you’re a decent parent, it’s an easy one.

Sunset Shazz October 30, 2012 at 10:54 am

1. Mood affiliation is an important factor in choosing a mate.
2. During the “culture wars”, politics is largely driven by mood affiliation (as opposed to actual policy or first principles).
3. Ergo, political choice is a good marker, and effective signal, for mate suitability.

Miley Cyrax October 30, 2012 at 11:29 am

I don’t really care about a girl’s politics, but I’ve noticed that girls who are staunch Romney supporters are much better-looking than girls who are staunch Obama supporters, with casual Obama supporters in the middle (the casuals probably don’t really care, but are just conforming to the herd in picking the PC choice). Sample size is scanty for casual Romney supporters and Libertarians.

msgkings October 30, 2012 at 12:00 pm

Believe it or not, there are girls in this world beyond your personal social circle.

Miley Cyrax October 30, 2012 at 12:12 pm

Cute.

Johannes October 30, 2012 at 12:36 pm

The relevant clue/cue is that you call them “girls.” That’s really all one needs to know.

Cliff October 30, 2012 at 1:07 pm

Uh, no.

dead serious October 30, 2012 at 2:32 pm

Uh, yes.

He’s a Roissy disciple and, as such, espouses a culture more in line with today’s Middle East than today’s America.

That’s not hyperbole.

tt October 30, 2012 at 1:36 pm

you are so strange

GiT October 31, 2012 at 3:24 am

That’s a polite way of putting it.

Zephyrus October 30, 2012 at 11:45 am

Even though someone’s political opinions on rent control isn’t related at all to relationship success, that’s not really one of the salient points in political debate: you’ve got to look at what are the strongest arguments for using political affiliation as a compatibility test.

Something like views on gay marriage, on the other hand, does tell a lot. If you have progressive views on gender and believe that you have responsibilities to society outside of yourself, you almost certainly support gay marriage as a cultural institution, though perhaps not government recognition of any marriage. That intersection of properties can either be a pro or a con, but it’s a valid measure either way.

If you think that voter fraud won Obama the 2008 election, that he’s foisted a socialist dictatorship on us, or that he’s a secret Kenyan Muslim, you’re too psychologically disturbed to be date-able. Or if you would list Chomsky as the 20th century’s greatest philosopher, you probably aren’t the sharpest crayon in the box.

Joe Smith October 30, 2012 at 11:57 am

Romney’s 47 percent remark told us everything we need to know about the Republican view. The country is deeply divided. The social conservatives and libertarians are on the offense but they are going to be in for a really ugly surprise soon. Romney’s whole campaign is based on a series of lies. If Romney does win – it is all going to blow apart.

Cliff October 30, 2012 at 1:08 pm

Democrats are bad!! Obama sucks!

Andrew' October 30, 2012 at 4:21 pm

No, it told us nothing other than Romney is a goof.

You think I’m going to be disappointed if my guy isn’t elected? Well, that hasn’t happened in over 200 years.

msgkings October 30, 2012 at 5:53 pm

And see, they never elect your guy, and now you live in a completely hellish nightmare world. If only they LISTENED!

Al Abbott October 30, 2012 at 12:17 pm

We are experiencing the inevitable result of the increasing scope of government into civil society. Aspects of society which should co-exist with toleration are becoming politicized, meaning 49% of the population must do what the 51% says or else. Many, many things should never be up for a vote.

The Anti-Gnostic October 30, 2012 at 12:33 pm

This is a very good observation. In simplistic terms, if government just keeps the roads paved and foreign invaders out and criminals in prison, then we can all get along. If government’s about who makes and who takes, then people start shooting each other.

Zephyrus October 30, 2012 at 2:46 pm

There were, obviously, no economic, gender, or racial cleavages in 19th century America.

The Anti-Gnostic October 30, 2012 at 4:13 pm

Yes. Thank you Captain Spergy Obvious. When it came down to exit rights for the States and slave rebellions, things got rather heated. I think that tends to prove my point.

Johannes October 30, 2012 at 12:37 pm

Such as what?

MD October 30, 2012 at 1:26 pm

Such as things Al Abbott disagrees with.

The Anti-Gnostic October 30, 2012 at 4:43 pm

The example that comes to my mind of something the government should just have left the hell alone is education. Want to teach your kids young earth creationism? Knock yourself out. LGBTQZ proms? Have at it. Want an athletics program? Mom and dad can buy the fields, the weight rooms, the insurance. Community service as part of the curriculum? Your school, your rules. Only Asians and Ashkenazim allowed? Fine by me.

So many HUGE, highly distracting and expensive debates and the endless, unworkable solutions would disappear overnight. Of course, this will never be allowed to happen. The State is uber alles.

john October 30, 2012 at 1:09 pm

“Charles Rawlings is a neurosurgeon, attorney, deep-sea diver and published photographer.” Add “author” to those credentials, plus Really Good Looking Guy, in a Bob Pinciotti sort of way.

Charles, could it be that you are just too dang good for any woman, regardless of her politics?

Andrew' October 30, 2012 at 4:22 pm

He’s a neurosurgeon who sues his competition (I speculate). Best job ever!

“Hobbies: Winning!”

Yi October 30, 2012 at 1:44 pm

Understandable. Democrats barely qualify as human.

John November 2, 2012 at 10:22 pm

I laughed.

RM October 30, 2012 at 2:43 pm

They cannot possibly be “perfect in every other way.”

JasonL October 30, 2012 at 3:27 pm

We are in a world where the major parties agree on 85% of everything and disagree vehemently for mostly irrational reasons about the rest. For those who identify with a major party in 2012, they are identifying with the conflict over intractable differences. Guns are liberty or slavery. Reproductive issues are self ownership or murder. With all the other cards on the table, when someone identifies as a member of Team Red or Blue, there is not a lot of confusion about what they mean and screw the sort of person who would sign up for that. I would guess unaffiliateds or libertarians or such are less picky simply because it’s more plauisble there is no fundamental values conflict when you don’t view yourself as a member of an established team.

TGGP October 30, 2012 at 7:09 pm

What role is declining party identification playing in this?

ezra abrams October 31, 2012 at 9:47 am

religious or ethnic differences are ok cause they are not logical – its from your parents
political on the other hand is logical, so it is really hard for me (a liberal) to understand someone who is opposed to higher taxes on the rich, increasing soc sec benefits, socialized medicine, etc etc
I mean to me, the logic of higher taxes on the rich is so compelling that i have a hard time (though i really try) to believe that someone who advocates for the opposite is not just a flack for the rich (sorry – thats a convoluted sentance – let me try again: to me the benefits of higher taxes on the rich are so obvious, that I think anyone who wants lower taxes must be dishonest, in that they just want lower taxes, regardless of the pain and suffering that will cause.
I know that this is not true – I reall don’t think Tyler, to be specific without being personal – thinks this way, yet my emotional brain is overriding my logical brain.

PS: as a liberal, i want to know, why don’t suburbanites pay the very high cost of those nice trees they have, and why should i as a taxpaye pay for FEMA and other special costs for people in NJ and CT and SC who want to live *right* on the ocean – they wanna live right ont he ocean with a great view, let em pay for their own darn emergency services
(who said liberals can’t be self contradictory with the best !!!)

triclops October 31, 2012 at 4:10 pm

It will never make sense to you until you shed your underlying team affiliation.
Let me try to help you see the other end of the “tax the rich” thing. Many see this argument as disingenuous. The increased tax revenue would be trivial in the face of our debts/obligations, the overall comprehensive tax burden for the rich, in the US, is actually already quite progressive, much of the actual language used in the argument for “paying their fair share” is just the language of wealthy envy and class warfare, and the argument that, “just a little tax increase on the rich is no big deal” has no endpoint (i.e., it is never enough. As soon as the current tax increase has settled in, the argument can and will be used again for another increase, like the slowly boiling frog story). This is not to say that no tax increase is ever justified, but the solution to every single budget issue in the US cannot logically be, “tax the rich more”, just as the “solution” to the economy cannot be “just cut more taxes”.

Your questions about suburban landscaping and FEMA are good places to begin to see that fundamentally, Team Red and Team Blue and just Venn diagrams of selfish, narrow interest groups that overlap when it comes to middle class entitlements.

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