No to knowing…
Posted April 5, 2013on:
Morning Widdershin friends. Here’s hoping your Friday is one punctuated by the theme of The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel — “Everything will be all right in the end, if it is not all right, then it is not yet the end.”
In case you didn’t see it, there was a study released about a month ago by two graduate political science students, David Broockman and Christopher Skovron. Their study was of the prevailing attitudes and philosophies of legislators as it relates to their constituencies. In other words, do legislators know what their constituencies think and are they voting accordingly?
First let me say, at best the Broockman/Skovron study is early and you should never put too much faith in just one study. Indeed, further analysis will be needed and more in-depth study will precede any conclusions on the matter, but suffice it to say, the research was so statistically significant, the conclusions were eye-popping even if it is only an anecdotal study.
Here’s what these researchers found:
The difference between the beliefs of the elected representatives and their constituencies is so large that nearly half of conservative politicians appear to believe that they represent a district that is more conservative than is the most conservative district in the entire country on a range of issues. These politicians overestimate the conservatism of their constituents by 20 points.
Is there any wonder that this is true when upwards of 90% of Americans support enhanced background checks and the legislation is languishing? Is there any wonder that a ban on semi-automatic weapons and large capacity magazines is all but dead? Is there any wonder that there is some doubt as to the efficacy of limits on “straw purchasers of weapons” given that the NRA is now lobbying for loopholes so that criminals are insured their Second Amendment rights? Is there any doubt why 34 votes have been taken for the repeal of Obamacare and no votes have been taken for a jobs program? Is there any doubt why more restrictions of women’s access to reproductive healthcare have been enacted in the last two years than at any time since Roe v. Wade?
This hyper-conservative belief structure has been inculcated into the House of Representatives by what seems to have been a state-by-state effort to gerrymander districts. This systematic conspiracy is in order to institutionalize a Republican majority through at least the next decade and next census. I hear so many bobble-headed pundits talking about the effects, but no one asking “why” and “who?”
This systematic institutionalization of unrepresentative government is “long ball politics.” It is the Mitch McConnell delay, it is the Rand Paul/Ted Cruz filibuster de jure, it is the 12% of judgeships left unfilled, it is the two and a half day workweek of the House of Representatives, it is the 12,000 stories about cutting White House tours and barely 1,000 stories about the human suffering occasioned by the sequester cuts.
This “long ball politics” insures the problems of the day aren’t addressed. It insures that single-issue zealots are the predominant forces in primaries. It insures that conspiracy theorists receive adequate and ultimate pandering. It plays to the 20% of the Republican Party who think President Obama is the antichrist and the 36% of Mitt Romney voters who are sure Saddam Hussein was involved in 9/11.
What is also insures is what logicians call “epistemic closure” — an extreme form of confirmation bias where a closed system of deduction can’t be affected by empirical evidence. In parlance, it is very similar to the self-awareness of Popeye, “I y’am what I y’am.”
There are two modes of approach to this institutionalized rot: Sit back and watch or attack. Politically, it seems as if the Democrats are satisfied to allow this stranglehold to continue in the hopes of recapturing the House — a cowardly choice and an anathema to good policy. For what it’s worth, I believe the Democrats should grow a pair and attack ala the Right’s attack upon Acorn. We should uncover those who are behind this systematic conspiracy and allow them to shrivel in the light of day behind a defendant’s table at the nearest federal courthouse.
Although this is quite Rumsfeldian, the unrepresentative hacks detailed in the Broockman/Skovron study not only don’t know what they don’t know, they know they don’t want to know what they don’t know.
I think we should know since sunlight is the quintessential disinfectant.
This is an “all skate” open thread.
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