Horowitz: Americans With Different Political Views No Longer Talk to Each Other
Tuesday, August 16, 2016
On the other hand, large majorities of Trump and Clinton supporters have substantial numbers of close friends who back the candidate of their choice. Not surprisingly, given this set of facts, people have far more conversations about the race with people who agree with their choice of candidate than with people that disagree. In fact, political conversations with people we disagree with are few and far between.
These recent Pew findings are further evidence of a disturbing trend in our political culture-that we are becoming segregated by partisan preference. We increasingly live in communities with people who mainly share our political views, participate in social media universes that are comprised of like-minded people, and get our media from outlets that share our point of view and ideology. As Bill Bishop, the author of the Big Sort, which describes how liberals prefer urban areas and conservatives the exurbs, said, “American is hiving.” Bishop points out the dramatic increase in landslide counties, where candidates of one party consistently receive more than 60% of the vote.
The consequences of a nation increasingly segregated by partisan preference and political ideology is that we become more definite in our views and less willing to compromise. Research shows that when we regularly interact with people with whom we disagree we are more open to different points of view and our views tend to moderate. Unfortunately, for most of us, the people we talk with and the media we consume reinforces and amplifies our opinions-making us more convinced that we have a monopoly on truth and good intentions.
The result is reflected in the gridlock we see in national politics today—in which principled compromise is too often punished and reflexive opposition too often rewarded. If we want this to change, we must change and it starts with reaching out to people with whom you disagree, listening to their point of view and seeking common ground.
Rob Horowitz is a strategic and communications consultant who provides general consulting, public relations, direct mail services and polling for national and state issue organizations, various non-profits and elected officials and candidates. He is an Adjunct Professor of Political Science at the University of Rhode Island
Related Slideshow: 10 Ways Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump Are Actually Similar
Universal Health Care
Despite sitting on opposite sides of the aisle, Trump and Sanders essentially share the same healthcare plan. But you don’t have to take our word for it—Ted Cruz, Trump’s chief rival, said himself that Trump and Sanders “have basically the same healthcare plan," in an interview with Fox News’ Sean Hannity.
"Donald Trump enthusiastically supported the TARP bailout of big banks. I opposed it. He enthusiastically supported Barack Obama's stimulus plan. He thought it should have been bigger. I think it was a disaster and a waste of money. Actually, Donald not only supported both of those, but he argued that Obamacare should be expanded to make it socialized medicine for everyone,” Cruz told Hannity
Reforming Wall Street
Both candidates have made serious noise talking about reforming Wall Street. Bernie Sanders has just about made his whole career on taking on financial kingpins, and has attracted many young fans in the process.
While the uber-capitalist Trump may seem like the candidate to take on his fellow one-percenters, his words say something different. Trump blasted hedge fund managers on CBS, saying they are “getting away with murder,” on CBS’ “Face the Nation" in 2015.
"The hedge fund guys didn't build this country. These are guys that shift paper around and they get lucky,” Trump said.
They Don't Take Money from Wall Street
It’s not just that the candidates criticize Wall Street and big banks—plenty do that. But Trump and Sanders back up their tough talk by not attracting campaign donations from those same financial institutions.
Sure, Hillary Clinton has taken aim at the major financial mavericks during her time on the campaign trail—what self-respecting Democrat hasn’t? But a closer look at her campaign financials shows that she isn’t putting her money where her mouth is.
Their Campaigns are Populist Movements
Neither Trump nor Sanders are what you would call a “party darling.” Both have taken aim at the lions and leaders of their own parties have been unafraid to make controversial statements regarding the political establishments.
Instead, their campaigns have been buoyed by passionate, typically politically apathetic people. People who have finally found someone they can relate to in the political landscape and someone they feel they can trust. Despite repeated predictions of failure, regular people continue to respond to their campaigns, as both Sanders and Trump remain near or at the polls as the primaries begin.
The Most Unusual Candidates (Ever?)
Trump and Sanders are certainly the most unusual candidates this year, as both the Republican and Democratic fields contain typical governors, senators and congressman vying for the ultimate government job. It goes one step further, however—they may be the most unusual candidates a Presidential campaign has ever seen.
Sure, Trump isn’t the first rich eccentric to take a run at the Oval Office (just google Ross Perot if you don’t believe us.) But he’s certainly the first candidate to speak about immigrants and other races as he has.
Political candidates of any variety like going where they are wanted. They make sure that there are plenty of warm well-wishers to make campaign events see exciting and full.
Trump and Sanders, however, seem to be able to attract raucous crowds that are more akin to rock concert or playoff game than a political rally. People come in costume, dressed as their favorite candidate. Teenagers, even though they cannot cast a vote, turn out in full face paint to support their candidate.
It’s happened all over the country. Record-setting crowds packed the Moda Center in Portland, Oregon and thousands filled the DCU Center to see Trump in Worcester, Massachusetts. Everywhere these candidates go, people rush to see them.
Lots of Small-Money Donations
Typically, leading Presidential campaigns are powered by big money donations, but that’s not the case for Trump and Sanders.
As Graphiq shows us below, Sanders and Trump are one and two, respectively in the amount of campaign donations under $200—a sure sign of grassroots support.
How often do you watch and listen to a political speaking, and find yourself drifting off to sleep or reaching for your iPhone?
That rarely seems to be the case when Trump or Sanders are on the mic. You never quite know when Trump will insult an entire religion or ethnic group in one thirty-second soundbite.
Not to be outdone, Sanders folksy and frantic style of speech has attracted attention—and plenty of jokes and memes—from all across the internet.
Slated for Failure
Since the first day that each candidate announced their campaign, the political intellectual and elite have told everyone that they just don’t stand a chance. Trump and Sanders are too controversial, their too radical and they are too inexperienced. How many times did political analysts or other talking heads say they would be out of the race before the first votes are ever cast?
Yet here we are, just a few days away from the first caucuses and primaries. Neither Trump nor Sanders are out of the race. Neither is on their dying breaths. They are thriving. And, as you’ll see in our next slide, they are winning
Leading in Iowa (and New Hampshire!)
If the latest polls are to believed these massively unusual candidates—one socialist, one real estate magnate/reality tv star, both with tons of small donations, both told they never had any chance—will be making victory speeches in Iowa and New Hampshire soon.
According to CNN, Trump has an 11 point lead among Republicans and Sanders an eight point lead among Democrats in Iowa just a few days before the caucus.
And in New Hampshire, as you’ll see below, Trump and Sanders have double digit leads as we approach the first true primary.
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