Marc J. Hetherington on "Will Republicans and Democrats Always Hate Each?"
Marc J. Hetherington, Professor of Political Science at Vanderbilt University, presented the 2017 Gilbert Lecture entitled: "Will Republicans and Democrats Always Hate Each Other?" He argues that political division – whether strong or weak, angry or meek – is best understood as the intersection of decisions that party leaders make and the psychology of ordinary Americans.
Professor Hetherington studies the American electorate, with a focus on th polaritzation of public opinion. He is the author of three books, the most recent of which, "Why Washington Won't Work" won the Alexander George Award form the International Society of Political Psychology.
Speaker 1: Welcome to the annual Charles Gilbert lecture. It's named after a man who was a major figure in the department, and may be able to come in shortly. He's resting outside, so Chuck may be here.
The point of the Charles Gilbert lecture, like many of these main lectureships that we have in the various different departments, the Mark [Nasvald 00:00:28] lecture. I knew Mark Nasvald. I took a class with him in class six, the James Field lecture in history. Didn't know any of the economist main lectures unfortunately.
Are intended to bring people who are important and exciting scholars, and the person whom we have tonight, Mark [Heatherington 00:00:51] very much fits that bill. He is the author of a large number of peer reviewed articles in the very best journals in political science, and some very important books on trust, and on personality traits, and how they structure political world views, and how both of those things are crippling governments in the United States, and he's here tonight to talk about the continuing thinking that he's been doing about the vision that exists in American politics that we know by the name of polarization, or political polarization.
There's a debate about polarization, but the thing about polarization is partly framed by the American National Election Studies. If you go to the American National Election Studies online you will see that Americans tell people from the American National Election Studies that they're not polarized, but we know that they are polarized, and so some people say there's a myth about polarization, and those people are smart people. There are other people that say that polarization is not only real, but it's far deeper than we might suspect, and Mark without giving too much away is more of the latter view, and so he's going to be telling us why he thinks that tonight.
I do want to add one more thing about Mark, he's been teaching at Vanderbilt for 14 years where he's had a wonderful time, and he's now going out to have a better time we think at University of North Carolina where he's taking a very distinguished professorship, the Raymond Dawson Professorship, which is a standing professorship that the University of North Carolina and political science department has for very serious, and important scholar in survey research, and public opinion.
So without further ado, let me turn it over to Mark Heatherington of Vanderbilt University, and thank you so much for being here.
Mark H: Well, I'm actually a Pennsylvania native, and in that sense I am thrilled to be here. This is one of the great opportunities that I've had on more than one occasion to go and give a talk at a school there's no chance in the world I ever would've gotten into.
So I appreciate you guys showing up, and humoring me as relates to this question about polarization.
So one of the things that Rick and I talked about was the title of the talk, and you know, the question is, you know, Republicans, and Democrats are always gonna hate each other. And you guys should know about me, I'm actually a pretty optimistic guy by and large. You know, I grew up rooting for the Red Sox thinking maybe one of these days they would win a World Series. I still root for the Washington Capitals, one of the only hockey teams never to have won a Stanley Cup. I'm an optimist. I'm a glass half full type of guy, and yet I'm not very optimistic about the situation that we find ourselves in right now.
So I'm not gonna lie to you, at this point I'm pessimistic about the short to medium-term. But one of the things that I'm gonna end this talk with is something about call to arms, a charge to you and your generation of people. Not the old farts in the front up here, you know, they had their time, and so has my generation. But you as students, I mean, you guys have a unique opportunity to redefine what politics is going to be about in the future, and I think understanding what politics has been about and the things that structure why we are Republicans and Democrats, Liberals, and Conservatives may give you a sense of what to avoid as you guys move from being students into being leaders.
And you know, one of the things that occurs to me as very important to keep in mind is just how deep the bad feelings go in American politics these days. Let me put it in these terms, and as you can tell already I'm something of a sports fan. And you know, where politics these days has gotten to be like, is when your team is completely out of contention for the championship, but you're heated rival is you know, got a chance to win it.
Last night I spent the afternoon, or the evening rooting against the Yankees. Why? Because I hate the Yankees. This is what happens, this is what's happening in politics these days when the other side is in power. We know we're all gonna root for them to succeed, but the thing is our success as a nation depends on their ability to succeed.
So if you go back in 2008, 2009 when Barack Obama becomes president. If you could get inside the heads of Republicans back then and ask them, do you really want a big strong economic recovery after this financial crisis? A lot of them would be like, "Maybe not a big one because that would be a victory for Obama."
Mitch Okano himself, the minority leader of the senate at the time said, "My number one job is to make Barack Obama a one-term president." Oddly, it was not to make the country recover from economic catastrophe, but rather to limit Obama to one term.
Similarly, and you know, if you got inside the hard parts of many different democrats over these last number of weeks, and months as swords have pummeled Houston, and San Juan, I have to say I have a feeling a number of democrats weren't exactly hoping for the rain to stop. Any possibility that might suggest an opportunity to show the president and administration's recklessness and inability to govern would be a good thing no matter what the costs might be. This is a disaster set of circumstances when things like this happen, and both sides hate each other so much that they're willing to do it.
So what I'm kind of interested in getting at is why are these feeling so strong? And the last thing I'll say in prelude to the talk is, if there's one finding from American politics in survey research about the American electorate that we can count on over the course of the last 50 years is people don't care about politics. So how do they seem to care so much these days about something they don't care about at all?
And I think that's a really interesting puzzle, and let's try to answer that puzzle as we go forward.
Now, one thing you probably didn't imagine would happen is that there would be a poem at a political science talk. You probably also didn't guess that the guest would knock his microphone off within the first couple of seconds, which I just did.
All right, I'm gonna read this poem, and there's a poem actually ... This is a poem that Donald Trump reads at rallies on a relatively regular basis. I came across it when he was in my native Harrisburg, and he gave a talk and his crowds go crazy for it, and he kind of teases the crap [inaudible 00:08:02] ear up like a professional wrestler might to hear from the crowd.
So here is you know, what the poem says. It says, "On her way to work one morning down the path alongside the lake, a tender-hearted woman saw a poor half-frozen snake. His pretty colored skin had been all frosted with dew. Oh, well, she cried, I'll take you in and I'll take care of you. She wrapped him up all cozy in a curvature of silk, and then laid him by the fireside with some honey, and some milk. Now she hurried home from work that night and as soon as she arrived she found that pretty snake she'd taken in had been revived. Now she clutched the door, you're so beautiful she cried, if I hadn't brought you in by now you might have died. Now she stroked his pretty skin, and then she kissed and held him tight, but instead of saying thanks, that snake gave her a vicious bite!"
Now again, Trump is telling this parable to adoring crowds talking about the concerns that they might have about Syrian refugees, and later immigrants from Mexico.
"I saved you! Cried the woman, and you've bit me, and why? You know your bite is poisonous, and now I'm going to die. Oh, shut up silly woman, said the reptile with a grin. You knew damn well I was a snake before you took me in."
Now, I can imagine based on the crowd here at Swarthmore College that you guys are not going crazy for this poem. No roars from the crowd saying that this is the way it is, this is the way the world is, but what is really important to realize is it's because you have a world view that suggests that the outside world isn't the most dangerous thing, that refugees, and immigrants aren't snakes who are gonna bite you, to you all by and large, you know, they're people who are in need of support, and help.
But, too, you have to realize to another group of people that opposite is true, they find this to be common sense wisdom that liberals, and so forth really just don't seem to be able to understand.
So let's talk a little bit about the nature of our divisions, and what might create this incredibly different reaction to a poem by Arthur [inaudible 00:10:35] called The Snake.
So we of course know we have these deep divisions, some of them deeper than we've ever had before. We've never had more racial polarization in voting, and it's interesting. We always talk about racial polarization as the behavior of minority groups, but it's equally true that whites have never been so resolute in one direction or another in their political behavior as well in a pro-republican way.
We have old versus young, we have men versus women, of course we have religious versus secular, sort of cultural [wars 00:11:11]. And you know, this didn't used to be a big deal because there weren't very many people who were secular, but in this day and age when relatively high percentage of people call themselves none. Not nuns that wear a habit, nones who don't go to ... You guys are gonna have to laugh with me a couple times, or else it's not gonna work.
I need a little bit more support from you guys, I'm a very sensitive individual. Okay. But the real key I'm gonna get at is the sensibilities that go along with people being city folks, or people being suburban or rural people. This one is gonna turn out to be very important, it's also tied up with religion as well. People who come from more fundamental states tend to want to be in wide open spaces, and people who are more secular, nuns tend to want to be in cities.
Now, I'm gonna remind you of what the electoral college map looks like. This is from 2012 because this one is a little less heartbreaking to me. The 2016, it's really been a problem, you know, for me to look at it. So I'm gonna go with 2012, but it's the same electoral college map basically that we've had since 2000. Even the 2016 one looks a lot like this as well.
But what I want to point out here is that places that have you know, urban population centers tend to be the blue states, and the ones that tend to be rural tend to be the red states, we often talk about politics in terms of red states, and blue states. But it's really not the best way to think about it. Politics is really about population density, and Pennsylvania of course is the best example of it.
James Carvill, the old political consultant described Pennsylvania as Philadelphia in the east, Pittsburgh in the west, and Alabama in between, and that's true. I'm from the Alabama part, and I married a woman from Alabama, so it must be true.
Okay, good, you guys are picking it up. All right, but it's an urban rural thing and it's reflected in the electoral college map. But this is the thing that I really kind of want to challenge you with, and this gets to the point that I'm trying to make that our political innovations aren't necessarily just political, and I'm gonna show you some crazy edits of this, and that is that Americans by politics are also divided about all sorts of other things, things that maybe they really do care about. Republicans tend to like American food, democrats tend to like ethnic cuisine. As it relates to beer, republicans tend to like it the lighter, and the more macro the better. The favored beer of republicans is Coors except for when it comes to Coors Light, which they like even better.
[inaudible 00:13:49] really interested in you know, hobby micro beer things. Computers, Macs versus PCs, vehicles, I mean, one of the great, let's say we go into the parking lot out here if you see somebody climb into a GMC Yukon XL, not just the Yukon. The Yukon's big, the Yukon XL, you know it's a republican, and [inaudible 00:14:14] somebody climbs into a Prius, it's a democrat, right? And I'm gonna talk about dogs versus cats as well in kind of interesting ways. I mean, this is kind of strange, this is the cat preference versus dog preference [inaudible 00:14:29]. Does that look like something you just saw? It looks a little bit like the electoral college map, doesn't it?
The cat states are you know, in green, you know, these guys who knows what's going on here, but these are the dog states, and so forth. You know, just to put a finer point on it, this is my dog, you know, I'd probably argue real-life politics, but it's not like democrats don't like dogs, but within dogs there are even differences. Republicans like big dogs, they like big dogs that you can train that are obedient. My dog's ridiculous, my dog weighs like, 20 pounds, he looks mildly grumpy in this picture.
One of the things that he's on is the furniture, you know, that wouldn't be fly in conservative households for the most part, at least not racially and culturally conservative households. He sleeps on the bed, all of these types of things.
But you know, that's you know, that's where things kind of start. We find that fertility rates among liberals and conservatives differ by a lot. Self-identified conservatives have 40% more children than self-identified liberals do. And if you take a look at the 10 highest fertility states from South Dakota down to Oklahoma, in nine of the 10 are red states. You look at the 10 lowest fertility states from New Hampshire down to New York, they're all blue states. We're not sure about what's going on in West Virginia, but well, who knows?
How about cars? I mentioned the Prius, I mentioned the Yukon XL. This is based on a study that was done by a company called [inaudible 00:16:16] and I don't need to go into the details, but what they looked at was not which cars were most popular in red versus congressional districts because like, the top 10 cars are the most popular cars everywhere, you know, the Honda Accord, the Ford Focus, the Toyota Camry, and stuff like that.
But what they looked at was places where cars were unusually popular. So popular in a congressional district, red or blue relative to how popular it is in the country as a whole. So unusually popular red cars based on this, does anybody know what all these red cars are? Because I know a lot of you don't because you don't drive the Dodge Ram 150, the GMC Sierra. My wife one time got a Ford F-150 as a rental car, she looked ridiculous in it, you know, so these are all trucks, all of them are American made. Honda, the left side, the right side for you guys, the blue cars of course are all sedans, and all of them are foreign made.
This one, the Kia Sorrento for some reason ends up ... It's a foreign car ends up on the other side. I think this quote's great, I think it kind of sums up what I'm talking about, conservative [inaudible 00:17:27] on the Prius, we all know it's the car of choice for liberals everywhere. They're as much a political statement as anything. By driving one of these cars, these folks are saying, "I care more about everything than you, and you hate the environment and support torture." That is what they're saying.
And again, you know what I'm talking about, you know these sorts of inferences are being made by people all the time when they see their consumer choices, and one of my doctorate students actually has this really interesting work showing that people make these connections between what you might call partisan cultural stereotypes between you know, say the Prius, and the democratic party, or Duck Dynasty, and the republican party.
They do that more reliably than they make between like, abortion as an issue. They identify you know, these cultural things, these consumer things otherwise.
There's also food, you know, everybody eats, right? There's a study done by [Grub 00:18:35] in Time Magazine that has a bunch of in blue district from Grub Hub the ordinary patterns have a bunch of different things that skew democratic from the veggie burger. Of course, to the spring roll, not the egg roll, you know, you gotta keep it a little bit healthier, the burrito over the hero, guacamole, mozzarella sticks. All of these things you know, show these types of differences. You know, we asked a survey question about if you had a choice, would you rather have traditional American [flair 00:19:08] or eat ethnic food? By a two to one margin democrats chose the ethnic food in the opposite direction, republicans went the other way.
You guys like music? Music, of course. Facebook did a thing on people who liked pages of political candidates, and also the pages of musicians, and what they found was that the people who liked The Beatles were much more likely to like the pages of specific democrats. George Strait was the person who was most connected to republicans, of course The Motor City Madmen and Ted Nugent also on the republican side.
So what you see is these, you know, enormous musical differences in musical preferences as well. So you must be thinking, well, of all that, well good, it's fine, it's kind of entertaining. I laughed more than I expected to today mostly because the speaker begged for it, but regardless of that you probably you know, there's a point to this, too.
And the point to it is to suggest that party differences are super ordinate groups that we identify with when it comes to politics. The differences between them run deeper than politics, and what this suggest to me is that different types of people you know, different profiles of people, people with what I'm gonna call different world views identify with the two different sides, and so our politics is not just cleaved by political issues, it turns out by political issues that are the most polarizing, you know, things like race, and culture, but also it sits atop a well spring of other values that also are constantly telling us that the other side is a bunch of [inaudible 00:21:03] that they're not like us, that I don't have anything in common with them, and as a result this is gonna have a big impact on politics.
Well, where does my thinking come from? Where does this world view come from that I'm talking about? So you know, we're gonna try to build our case from the inside out. Our work starts further inside than most people's research on these types of things to start.
In fact, where our research starts is actually in people's nervous systems like, you know, why do people you know, value certain things, you know, especially things that are say, conventional versus things that are new. And it may be that there's something deep down inside of them that tells them to play it safe, or doesn't tell them to play it safe, which allows them to have a preference for things that are outside of the mainstream that are a little bit different, so instead of baseball they prefer ultimate Frisbee, or something along those lines.
But let me tell you a little bit about some of these tests that in particular a set of scholars at the University of Nebraska led by a guy named John [Hippick 00:22:10] have done. So they do these eye tests, I won't go through all of them. But one of them is particularly interesting. What they do is they outfit people with these eye trackers. I don't know if you've ever seen these things, what they do is they're able to show you, or show researchers what people are dwelling on, what they're seeing. And you give them a pile of objects, and they can look at any number of different five, six, seven different objects.
Some of them are threatening, like guns, or something along those lines, and some of them ... Tarantulas, it's actually not guns, it's tarantulas. And then some of them are not threatening like, beach balls, and it turns out that people who filled out a questionnaire earlier, it turns out that conservatives dwell much more, much more on the threatening objects than the liberals do.
Liberals, everybody focuses on the threatening objects more. You know why? Because we're human, and threats are scary we feel like we gotta keep an eye on them. If we didn't we would have not made it this far.
But conservatives seem more attuned to the threats. That could be anything, who knows? Well, what about the startle reflex? You guys ever ... You guys probably you know, here you probably don't get startled very much, [inaudible 00:23:29]. But what happens when you startle, you know, your breathing changes, your heart rate increases, your blood pressure goes up, everybody does it, okay? But it turns out that some people startle more than other people do.
How would we possibly be able to measure that? Well, the thing in his co-authors what they do is they outfit people with these [inaudible 00:23:53] amplitude meters, so they count the number of times a person's eyes blink, and then they put these headphones on top of their heads, and they blow white noise into their ears, you know, to surprise them. Everybody startles, everybody's eyes blink.
But guess what? People who blink more that have higher blink amplitude are much more likely to identify as conservative, and less likely to identify as liberal. It also turns out that the people with high blink amplitude tend to have more conservative views as it relates to African-Americans if they're white.
What about gag reflex? Gag reflex is another of these sorts of things, and one of the things that I want to make clear right from the beginning because this is really important, is all of these things are beyond our conscious control. I mean, can you control how startles you get? Like, if you smell you know, expired milk and you stop yourself from gagging? No, you can't, these things are beyond your conscious control, okay? And these are things that are gonna turn out to be important to our politics, and this is one of the reasons that I'm so pessimistic about things.
Gag reflex, you show people disgusting images like, one of them is John [Hitting 00:25:12] eating, and John Hitting himself, the scholar eating worms. Apparently they couldn't show a picture of somebody else eating worms, it wouldn't pass the institutional review board, so they have John Hitting doing it himself.
One of the things I'm gonna comment on. The laughter from this part of the room is much stronger ... So you guys, the students over here, I came over here to help you guys pick it up. Okay, so the gag reflex it turns out of course that liberals have a weaker gag reflex than conservatives.
It also turns out that this gag reflex is correlated with people's attitudes towards homosexuality. And then there are personality differences, and this is where we get closer to what we can actually observe in people. It turns out that people who are more conservative score very high in conscientiousness, and when we think about conscientiousness what we think about is people who are dutiful, you know, people who are you know, orderly.
If you guys are from the suburbs, and you see well kept lawns, you have everything you know, perfectly hedge clipped, that's probably the house of somebody who either hires somebody, or who himself is or herself is highly conscientious. They're on time for meetings, so if you hold a meeting and three of the people are late, they're almost certainly liberals, okay? The liberals aren't showing up, the liberals are not showing up on time.
You know, so you can [count 00:26:40] on, you know ... What conscientious people really like a lot is traditions, orderliness, and things along those lines. Just tradition, and orderliness, does that come into play in politics a little bit? Yes. Okay. So we'll get to that in a minute.
Another personality difference where the two sides are different is that liberals score much higher in openness to experience. Conservatives score lower and you know, openness to experience is pretty obvious you know, when we talk about people's willingness to try out new things, to experience things that they might be great, but maybe they're not safe. Liberals are much more likely to do that, conservatives are gonna be a little bit less so.
The last of the things is neuroticism, and this is something that's still kind of up in the air about, and this is one of the big five personality characteristics as well. Let me ask you this, I don't know if I'm right about this, the jury is kind of still out. But have you ever gone to a coffee shop with a liberal? I mean, how long is the coffee order? It's like, 45 minutes long, they go to a place where there's a barista. Conservatives go to a place where there's a guy, okay?
You know, small, medium, or large, sugar or not, but liberals they get fussed, you know, and the [inaudible 00:28:00] is like, fussy. If you ever go to like, Whole Foods you [inaudible 00:28:06] you know you go to the beer cabinet you're like, "I hope nobody asks me a question ... Things that I don't understand." Liberals, they're I think more neurotic than, and things have to be just right. You know, a lot of rumination takes place. So we see these personality characteristics that end up manifesting I think in terms of politics.
So what I think this turns on is wariness. Wariness I think is the key concept in terms of what all these reflexes, you know, the eye trackers, and the startle, and the gag, and things like that. The degree to which people, the degree at which our bodies and minds are telling us that the world is a dangerous place. Some people are more wired that way, and some people are more wired less that way. Let me ask you this. Is anybody right? We don't know. We don't know.
So I'm not making a case here that one, I'm gonna describe world views that spring out of this that one is better than the other. What I'm gonna say though is that some people are wired more for wariness, and some people aren't, and that's gonna have profound implications for politics.
So if you're wary, what do you want? You want order, you want certainty, you know, you don't want a lot of you know, extraneous details where there aren't answers to your questions. If you ... And everybody wants some order, but it's a question of how uncomfortable with order people are. And one way that has traditionally been a device that provides order and certainty is hierarchy. Think about some of the institutions in your lives that you know, at least are generally thought of and is reasonably hierarchical.
Okay, so this is audience participation time. Can you think of any organizations, or institutions that are organized hierarchically?
Mark H: Military. Excellent, so you have your generals at the top, and you have your privates at the bottom. Yeah.
Mark H: Corporations can be you know, very hierarchical from the boardroom to the [inaudible 00:30:09].
Audience: Boy scouts.
Mark H: The boy scouts, which is sort of a military ish sort of an institution in certain ways. So these are things. Yeah?
Mark H: Churches are a great example of it, especially certain churches, you know, that place you know, either a priest, or a God, you know, at the very top of a hierarchy.
Audience: Executive branch of our government.
Mark H: Could be, and hierarchies can work, and sometimes they're scary depending upon [inaudible 00:30:37] these days.
Audience: Sports teams.
Mark H: Sports teams can also be like, the coach is at the top. But you know, we can have like, different kinds of strategies about how hierarchical these things are. How about families? You know, families tend to be ... So hierarchies have been with us, it's always with us whether it's where we work, where we grew up, you know, what endeavor we might be involved in.
So, hierarchy is everywhere. But then the question is, how much is hierarchy important to you? And you know, this is I think what the key thing that politics turns on, you know, these days.
And so, we gotta figure out you know, at this point a way to get at this. So this notion that is that we're developing is that we have these basic world views. It explains why we prefer things about politics, you know, because they you know, one side is providing more orderliness, and stuff like that, but it also involves our preferences for non-political things, too.
You know, do you think that you know, as we went through these sort of new brands, or these new things, you know, liberals are much more attracted to than conservatives tend to be, and this is key because again, politics is so [inaudible 00:31:55] not just because of our political disagreements, it's because our political disagreements move beyond the political.
So, what we're gonna need to do is we're gonna need to measure a world view. Okay? And like, how do you go about doing it? You know, so we've put together two terms, fixed world view, and a fluid world view. And you know, it turns out that there have been these survey questions that have been asked for quite some time asking people all things, of all things, okay, what traits in kids do you want? So, it asked you these in groups, in pairs, and you had to choose which one.
Now, any parents in here will know that you want all eight, okay? There is no doubt you want kids that are both obedient, and self-reliant, you want them to respect you as an elder, but you also want them to be independent, right?
But, what if you had to choose? What if you had to pick one? Which ones would you pick? And so we're gonna describe people as having a fixed world view if they choose respect for elders, wanting good manners over curiosity, being obedient over self-reliant, or being well-behaved as opposed to being considerate. What do all of these have in common? Well, they're kind of a hierarchy. They're a preference for hierarchy and order, you know, this is a way to sort of get at this, and then of course people with a fluid world view are gonna be people who want independent, curious, self-relation, and considerate kids.
Now, you can score anywhere from zero fixed world view answers to four, you know, so some people are about 20% of the population is completely fluid, about 20% is completely fixed, about 30% are in the exact middle, and then you know, a few others in other categories.
Okay, so is everybody on board with what we're doing here? All right, I am going to stun you now, because this measure is correlated with an incredible array of different political viewpoints.
So, let's start to march through those a little bit. So, you remember how we talked about the snake? You know you were thinking, "Why is he reading me a poem?" I'll tell you why I'm reading you a poem, it's because we ask these questions about social trust. One of them is we ask people, do you think most people can be trusted? Or whether you can't be too careful? Those with the fluid world view, you think that most people can be trusted. Those with a fixed world view, not so much.
So, you can see why this snake you know, kind of resonates with that particular crowd. Do you think most people will take advantage of you? Or do you think most people will try to be fair? The fluid, they're not all that wary, they almost all of them think that people will try to be fair, but the fixed aren't really, you know, quite so sure about that. Most people might take advantage of you.
Well, let's move into the political realm. There are a number of questions that we asked on a survey in 2016 where we asked people whether they believed certain different things, and this is the percentage of people who agree. The first is to believe that immigrants challenged traditional American customs, are you bothered when you encounter someone who speaks little english, and do you want to build a border wall on Trump's [law 00:35:15]?
Now, when we do survey research, anybody who does survey research in here would know that like, a 15 point difference between groups is pretty big. A 30 point difference between groups is mammoth. These differences are like, sometimes 40 and 50 points. So these differences ... Remember, remember, I didn't ask anybody if they were a republican or democrat. I asked them what parenting preferences they had in their kids, and yet they could tell us with ... Can discern a 50% difference in the chances that someone will believe immigrants challenge American customs, or whether they don't. And all of these different types of things.
And you know, how we feel about kids like, the proper characteristics that children ought to have, that's fundamental to who we are, that's not something that's you know, the minutia of Washington. That's something that's deep down inside of us, something is telling us about that that's deep down inside of us.
Racial attitudes are another place where these differences show up. There are questions that are under the rubric, racial resentment. These are three of the items. The first two are how much you agree with these things, and the third one is the degree to which you disagree. Let me just point you to one of them that I find just so amazing.
So, if African Americans only worked harder, they only need to try harder to be as well off as whites. So in other words, 72, or 73% of people with a fixed world view who answered the pairing questions a certain way think that racial inequality will just go away if blacks just simply worked harder. That would just do it, it would be all over.
Does discrimination [inaudible 00:37:00] make it difficult for blacks to move up? No, they completely disagree, and again these are 40, 50 point differences in outlook between how people answered parenting questions. Parenting questions.
How about gender? There is a set of questions that have been asked over the last number of years about gender attitudes. Should women return to traditional roles? Does sexual harassment complaints cause more problems than they solve? It's better if a man achieves and a woman stays at home. Women's equality, cause for women's equality, that's just asking for special favors.
Again, we see 30, 40, 50 point differences in outlook between the fixed and the fluid on these gender based items.
How about LGBT issues? I know there's some that we have really big differences here, whether it's support for same sex adoption, same sex marriage, believing that people are born gay rather than choosing to be gay, and then people who express being extremely frustrated by transgender bathrooms. Fluid almost completely unlikely to do it, the fixed pretty likely to feel that way.
And then there are other issues whether you favor stricter gun laws, there's about a 40 point difference. Whether you favor a strict constitutional interpretation ... A strict interpretation of the constitution about a 50 point difference. Do you favor creation over evolution, or the other way around? The fixed are big on creationism, the fluid are big on evolution.
Support temporarily banning Muslims from the country. Yeah?
Audience: How big were your sample size in these surveys? Because these numbers would be astounding [inaudible 00:38:51]
Mark H: Can you do the blurb on the back of the book? Because if you find it astounding, I find it astounding, too. The sample sizes are you know, anywhere from 1,500 to 10,000.
Audience: So significant samples.
Mark H: They're enormous. This is not you know, it's not a small [inaudible 00:39:11] of people on either side, these are big samples.
I should add we've been doing these surveys, this is 2016, we've been doing back to 2006, they show almost exactly the same thing. It's not crazy.
I mean, so you make my point is that these aren't minor differences, these are ginormous to use the scientific word. Ginormous differences in this sense.
So, how did this end up happening? And how this ends up happening, there's an interesting story to be told here. And what I want you guys to take away from this story is the divide that we have is not inevitable, okay? The divide that we have is not inevitable. When we all appear we're growing up, none of those issues really were important to political contestation. Gender issues were you know, still percolating, race issues were of a different sort, you know, the civil rights seemed to be doing away with segregation was sort of the key thing back then.
LGBT issues were not an issue. None of these you know, developing things were a thing back in that day. In other words, what politics was about from New Deal in the 1930's up to you know, the late 1960's or at least the mid 1960's was about this central conflict, it was about how much government ought to do to help those who were less well off, you know, so how much money would they collect in taxes, and redistribute to others, or spend on things that were widely distributional, like building the interstate highway system, and things like that.
So if you're a republican, or you're a democrat, and you are in a [pitched 00:40:53] battle with the other side about, should we run the interstate highway system in a way that costs 110 million dollars, or 120 million dollars, you're really getting fired up about that, right? No, you're not gonna care because you can compromise on that. But what politics has evolved into starting in the 1960's when race became a big consideration, and then feminism, and LGBT rights, and terrorism. These are all sort of like, conflicts about which it's difficult to compromise.
It turns out that those world view questions have nothing to do with people's desire to spend money you know, just generally for a government to spend money more, or less, or tax more or less. They're only connected to the beliefs about social and cultural issues, okay?
So, as politics evolved from being about the size and scope of government, to being about the claims of various different groups on government, and what government will do for them. This divide opened up, developed, and became a chasm as time went by.
So, the key thing that I want you to point up is that understanding people's psychology in isolation might be kind of fun, might be kind of interesting. "That person [sticks 00:42:11], that person's blue." But it wouldn't matter unless we mix that together with what elites make politics about.
Ordinary Americans you know, we just dance to the tune. Political elites, they determine what we're going to dance to, and as politics is company dominated, and this is on the right and on the left by race, and culture. That's what's created this division, and it matters.
So, this is you know, I think the most clear manifestation of polarization that we talked about, and I'll describe what you're looking at here.
The measure that we're looking at here is what we call a feeling thermometer score. Feeling thermometer score are these, no joke, somebody comes into your house and shows you a thermometer and gives you a bunch of groups to rate, and tells you if you really like the group you know, score it 100, and if you really hate the group score it near zero. If you don't have strong feelings about it, score it at 50.
You can put a number anywhere between zero and 100, so it's 101 point scale, and they ask about all manner of things you know, labor unions, big business, two of the things they ask about is the political parties, and what I've tracked here is how democrats in the solid blue line feel about the democratic party, and republicans, and how they feel about the republican party, and you can see from the Carter years to the Obama years that's not changed at all.
The way we feel about our own side is exactly how it's been since we started to ask these questions back in the 1970's. But, what's happened is how we feel about the other side. Democrat's feelings about republicans, and you know, actually Obama's things are all averaged together, the average during the Obama administration's 26 degrees. The last reading was like, 22 degrees or something like that, and for the republicans it was the same.
So, in other words [inaudible 00:44:16] what is a feeling thermometer score of 22, 24, or 26 mean. Just to put this into some perspective, republicans give a higher score to atheists than they give to the democratic party, and democrats give a higher score to Christian fundamentalists than they give to the republican party. Both sides give a higher average score to illegal immigrants, not immigrants, illegal immigrants by far, they're like, in the forties, or something along those lines.
So, what this is, is this is hate. I mean, this is political hate. And you know, you guys probably don't hate anybody, I do. [inaudible 00:44:59] I mean, you're safe. But think about if you did hate somebody, you know, what you might do. What do you want for them? When you really hate somebody, do you want anything good to happen? You don't want anything good to happen for them. Can you give them credit when they've done something well? No, you can't do that.
So, thinking about how you know, when you think about why couldn't you know, many of ... This graph is probably mostly democrats. Do you ever wonder why you know, republicans couldn't give Barack Obama any credit for improving the economy? They hate democrats, they hate him.
You know, if things went well for Donald Trump during the first six months of his administration, do you think democrats are gonna give him any credit for anything that went well? No, they hate him, and they hate all of the people who wear the red jersey, too.
So, with that in mind, this is an incredibly consequential thing. I'll show you a could of you know, kind of indications of just how it is these days. And you know, you can take a look at the first you know, couple clear majorities of republicans and democrats, report the other side makes them feel afraid, angry, frustrated, but this is my favorite. Nearly half of both republicans, and democrats now think the other party's policies are so misguided that they threaten the nation's well-being.
We are not on the same team anymore. I mean, over 40% democrats and over 40% of republicans think the other side policies are so misguided that they threaten the well-being. And this goes into our personal lives, there's a great article that [Shendi 00:46:36] [Angar 00:46:37] and a couple of his graduate students did on partisan prejudice.
In 1960 they asked a question, not they, Angar's old, he's not that old. But two legendary political scientists asked the question, if your son or daughter was getting married, how would you feel if she married a supporter of the other party? And only four or five percent of people thought that was bad, and four or five percent is really, really low. I mean, you can get 10% of people to endorse like, you know, Area 57 in Roswell, or something like that, okay?
In 2010 we asked a similar question, they asked a similar question, half of republicans and a third of democrats said that they would be somewhat, or very unhappy at the prospect of a partisan intermarriage. Okay? These are strong feelings, and we've seen you know, other things in IATs that show that there's actually a greater level of partisan prejudice in IATs than there is racial prejudice in IATs.
That is, people have ... If you've taken an implicit attitude test, the pairing of positive attributes with the other party as relates to party is harder than it is for somebody in a different race, for people. So, they show in other words more implicit bias.
And there's a great experiment as relates to explicit bias where people who are democrats are more willing to give than republics, more willing to give a scholarship to someone who is the president of the college republicans or democrats even if their grades are demonstrably worse than the other person who's not, who is the president of the other.
So, in other words will discriminate against people who are more highly qualidated because we want to believe in our group, we want to punish the other side, we want to bolster our sides.
It's that bad, and of course we see indications of it you know, in our everyday lives. This is one of my favorite pictures mostly because the person kind of reminds me a little bit of my mom. She was at a Trump rally, she got knocked over, she would've been hurt more seriously, she was a protester at a Trump rally. The injuries wouldn't have been as bad if she didn't fall on her oxygen tank, you know, she got mowed over by a Trump supporter knowing she was using oxygen. You know, this gives you a sense of just how raw things are.
And I'm looking forward to going back to this. So, this is our last three presents together in a golf event just this last week as well, and you know, this is something that I think is really important and important for you guys you know, to kind of realize that politics doesn't have to be the way that it's been, and what it's gonna require is you know, a certain amount of you know, leadership on your part.
Now, I'm gonna leave you with a story that I believe myself is hokey, okay? But I think it's a great story, and it's the you know, when I want to sort of leave you with as you go forth into the world, and you guys are important people, you're gonna have an opportunity to influence the world of politics around you, I mean, just by virtue of being from here and having an opportunity to go to school here.
So, let me tell you this story. So I was at a talk, okay? Back in 2008, it was just ... No, 2004, it was just before John Cary lost to George Bush in the election. There was this guy who came and gave a talk, [inaudible 00:50:19] [Susguy 00:50:18] is an important author, Pulitzer prize winning columnist, and it turned out he was the chancellor at Vanderbilt at that point.
So, because I'm a political scientist and he writes about politics, I got invited to the chancellor's house. So, that's great, except for it wasn't because you know, we just moved to Nashville, my wife and I were going through this terrible situation with our older son, we were concerned as to whether he was on the autism spectrum, or wasn't, there was a tremendous amount of uncertainty in our lives. We had a new little baby you know, along with that, and it was the last thing I wanted to do was go to this talk, but you know, you gotta go to the talk because you know, it's part of the job.
So, I get into the car and go to the talk, and Susguy, you know, he talks about polarization, it's as great as a talk as I can do today except for it was nowhere near as funny, but I mean, other than that it was pretty I mean, you know [inaudible 00:51:12].
But anyways, so he tells this story about polarization, and somebody asks, are we ever gonna be able to work on this? And Susguy doesn't answer the question directly, but he tells a story. So, I'm gonna tell you his story.
So, Susguy grew up in this little house somewhere in Delaware, and you know, split level house where you have the top floor is above ground, and bottom floor is like, a basement, and it was the night of the moon landing, okay? So, the moon landing is just about to happen and there are you know, his dad, his mom, and his brother, and him, they're all down in the basement of this split level house waiting for the moon landing to happen you know, the lander is you know, getting close, and all of a sudden the power goes out. The power just dies, and you know, of course it's a split level house it's completely dark because it's basement.
And you know, his dad's this you know, sort of old World War II guy, and he has this big sort of voice and he says, "Everybody come to me," you know, he's in this big chair and you know, the kids you know, they find their way across and they find their dad, and they walk up the stairs and get in the carport, and they look out and all of the houses are dark. The light ends going out everywhere, so they can't see the moon landing just by walking across the street.
So, of course they look at their dad, and their dad says, "Get in the car kids, we're gonna drive to the light." So, they get in the car and you know, this is of course the sixties, so you know, there are no seatbelts or anything like that, the kids are wearing their pajamas that you know, would burst into flame if they got near a stove, or ... So, they get into the car and the dad puts it into reverse, pulls out of the driveway and starts driving like hell across town just trying to find light.
And the kids are loving it, the kids are sliding back and forth you know, the seat in the back, and they had those jammies, you know, 100% polyester base, they might burst into flames even just on the vinyl seats, but they don't, and they had [inaudible 00:53:06] the mom is just like, "[Gavin 00:53:07] you're gonna kill us, you're gonna kill us!" And he's like, "No, I'm not gonna kill us, I'm gonna drive to the light."
He's one of those really calming guys you know, that when the going gets really tough, he gets even calmer, you know? And you know, he's trying to get airborne going across the thing, kids are having a great time, [inaudible 00:53:22] and he says, "No, I'm gonna drive us there to the light."
And all of a sudden they finally crest a hill and they see light in the distance. I mean, they're way across town, you know, it's a good number of miles. They don't know anybody in this part of town, so he guns it at that point you know, pulls up onto somebody's yard, that's gonna use the driveway at that point because they're desperate to get there.
Everybody piles out of the car, all right? And they knock on a stranger's door, and the stranger opens the door and lets them in, and takes them down to the basement of another split level house, and they get there just in time for the moon landing, and they see you know, this like, sort of great moment of national unity. They don't know any of these people, you know the house is full of both republicans, and democrats, liberals and conservatives. They all embrace because you know, this was you know, sort of a moment. And this is what people in that era did.
So, my admonition to you guys is to find that time again. I don't know how you're gonna do it, but the key is for your generation to drive my generation that's failed so badly, drive to the light, okay.
So, with that in mind, let me answer whatever questions you guys might have about my talk.