Monday, November 9, 2015

Political Tribes

Here is a comment I left over at MP Tribes in response to an exchange of comments that Dan and Paul are having.
"Many here find the gray zone that is reality very threatening for some reason.

I think what you have said is that government can be good or bad depending on how it is operated and by who. And the more power we give to the politicians that are located far from us citizens, the more likely it is that groups of bureaucrats and/or politicians will use it for their own benefit rather than society's. Finally, the greater the ability for them to do that, the greater the drive for people to seek those positions.

I am not sure why people disagree with this simple logic. Some folks seem to think that those millions of bureaucrats and public employees are pure of heart and there to serve us citizens. When in reality they are just humans who can be interested in empire building, better paychecks, more job security, pursuing their own agenda, etc like the rest of us. Of course the challenge is that we tax payers are paying for their excesses.
SC Times VA Probe Finds Mismanagement" G2A
 I think Dan's comments make a lot of sense.  Thoughts?


jerrye92002 said...

It's why I've long said that we continually make the mistake of pushing government power UP the chain rather than DOWN. County commissioners and local legislators, you know where they live, you can talk to them almost anytime and just a few people, well organized, can cause their defeat at the polls. Of course, Presidents especially get elected by promising to solve all our little problems while, knowingly or not, having neither the authority or ability to do so. And we let them get away with it.

Laurie said...

I read the article, which I thought was very good, but don't understand your comment or how it is related, so I will just stick to the article.

I like the word tribalism to use instead of obstructionism. In case you overlooked it in the article here is how tribalism is described"

"Now, Ornstein said, the parties are not only polarized, they are “tribalized.” Both parties suffer from this, he said, but the tribal instinct is considerably stronger on the Republican side. Tribalization, as Ornstein described, means that the other “tribe” is treated as an enemy, to be denied any concessions and it’s enough to know that an idea must be bad if it is backed by the other tribe, which Ornstein translates into “if you’re for it, I’m against it, even if I was for it yesterday.”

It’s gotten so bad, Ornstein says, that he believes that if not for Boehner’s secretly negotiated budget deal, the Republican hard-liners would have been unable to compromise on a deal to keep the government open and — even scarier — preserve the credit rating of the U.S. government by raising the debt ceiling.

By the way, that deal passed with the support of all Democrats but just 79 of the 247 Republicans in the U.S. House."

I included the last part as just one more example of which party can govern and which part can't, though I am giving up trying to convince anyone that one party is much more extreme than the other. I think this last post makes for 5-6 links posted here in the past few days all critical of the GOP.

jerrye92002 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
jerrye92002 said...

Laurie, I find your outlook fascinating, like finding an albino black bear.

You say Republicans are more "tribal," willing to deny the opposition a victory for the pure partisanship of it. And yet, how many times has Harry Reid pulled a unified Democrat minority together to simply deny Republicans the right to debate and vote on something, and it doesn't matter what? Things that 80% of the public supports, yet Democrats under Harry Reid are unanimously against even the discussion of what passes the House.

As for the budget deal, Republicans vote to "keep the government open" because of the egregious lies that are told blaming them for "shutting it down." Obama, the Democrats and the media spread this LIE, and won't acknowledge that it is Obama and the Democrats refusing to pass a budget just to protect one tiny little budget item, like planned parenthood funding, or eliminating funding for Obama's illegal alien amnesty. The simple fact is that roughly 70% of the government remains open as "essential services." It is true that Obama said, and did, "make the shutdown as painful as possible" by closing National Parks FIRST. As for the "credit rating of the US," federal revenues are roughly 20 TIMES what our debt service is, so any default would be OBAMA refusing to honor our debt obligations (which I wouldn't put past his petulance) rather than an act of Congress (or inaction of Congress).

Now, what is extreme, wanting to have Congress fulfill its Constitutional role of deciding to trim a couple budget items, or allowing Obama and the Democrat minority to dictate absolutely the complete (excessive) budget?

John said...

From my view, my link shows an example of Dan's concern. The VA is a government run entity where the customers are trapped and the bureaucrats rule. This is almost always a bad combination. It is very similar to the situation unlucky kids are in...

Laurie said...

it wasn't me, it was political scientist Norm Ornstein who says the GOP is more tribal.

about those VA bureaucrats trapping customers - it seems that Independent 2013 Survey Shows Veterans Highly Satisfied with VA Care

the survy "ranks the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) customer satisfaction among Veteran patients among the best in the nation and equal to or better than ratings for private sector hospitals." I believe this is at a lower cost , too.

and I still don't see any connection to the topic Our political parties are not only polarized, they are ‘tribalized’

It is very curious how just about any topic can lead to you bashing the schools.

John said...

Personally I think Dan's comments are more interesting.

"This is all about what is at stake. Because there are no longer any restrictions on government power the positions that manipulate that power become invaluable. When so much is in the line it the finalization is inevitable. The parliamentary system common in Europe might reflect variations in affiliation more granularity but it would be hard to argue that the outcomes are better. Higher structural unemployment, lower median incomes, lower productivity are the flip side to more equitable distribution of wealth. More equitable isn't as appealing when the mean income goes down.

The only way to reduce the level of rancor and corruption is to reduce the value of elected positions. That was one benefit to a very limited federal government. One that had the bare minimum of authority required to keep the states together and provide defense both of the borders and the rights of citizens. As those limits have been dismantled the uses of tribalization and corruption have become more accute and damaging. The primary manifestation of this is our constant state of war and wasteful defense spending. The same system that created the military industrial complex and militarization of local police forces has the same corrupting effect on everything it touches. There is no reason to think it wouldn't other than the afore mentioned tribalization. People tend to believe the narrative of the tribe with which they identify."

John said...

Don't know how independent that survey was. You linked to the VA site.

Now I have not heard of nearly as many whistle blower cases in the private hospitals as I have from the VA over the last few years. They seem to keep showing up every 6 months...

Sorry for picking on the schools again. A system that requires poor students go to their local union /bureaucrat run facility is not the ideal situation from my perspective. I may not support vouchers for certain reasons, but what we have is not ideal by any means.

Would you really enjoy not being able to pick your healthcare provider / hospital? Even if you were dissatisfied with their care.

jerrye92002 said...

John, you may be right that it is the centralization of power in Washington that has caused the two parties to "go tribal." To paraphrase the Bible, 1st Timothy, "the love of POWER is the root of all evil."

Not certain, Laurie, but that survey may have been of the Minnesota VA, not all US. Apparently there are good VA hospitals, and some really bad ones. Just like the schools, having something be government-run doesn't mean it runs equally well (nor, I will concede, equally badly) for everybody.

Speaking of tribes, I think you have to admit that the further away the chief the more likely is the disconnect between what SHOULD happen and what DOES happen. General Electric has (or at least had) a famous management dictum that there would be no more than 4 levels of management in the company. At the time, my company had 7. I wonder how many levels the federal government has, in the VA, for example?

John said...

CNN Hillary after the VA

MP VA Firings

Laurie said...

I think another fitting use of the term politial tribe relates to voters and their views of politicians and their policies. As is very clear there are two (or more) completely different perceptions of reality. According to Pew there are 9 political types Beyond Red vs. Blue: The Political Typology

It might be fun to drop thoughts on Ben Carson into this thread as well, with the debate on tonight and all the attention he has been getting the past few days. My favorite blogger, Kevin Drum, has been on the pschology retest story with aboout 6 different posts. His conclusion: it's ironic that the story Carson uses to illustrate his high degree of honesty is in large part fabricated.

John said...

Apparently this is me... "Republican-oriented Libertarian"

"Independents have played a determinative role in the last three national elections. But the three groups in the center of the political typology have very little in common, aside from their avoidance of partisan labels. Libertarians and Post-Moderns are largely white, well-educated and affluent. They also share a relatively secular outlook on some social issues, including homosexuality and abortion. But Republican-oriented Libertarians are far more critical of government, less supportive of environmental regulations, and more supportive of business than are Post-Moderns, most of whom lean Democratic."

jerrye92002 said...

One might think, with nine classifications, I would fit in one of them, but I don't. I'm just a former independent who observed, at one point, that he never "voted for the best person" who was a Democrat. I call myself a commonsense Republican. I would go with "compassionate conservative" except that it is simply the commonsense position and therefore goes without saying.

With the exception of the Tea Party, and I have my doubts about them, how does this typology serve to identify political "tribes" in any way? To me, it almost suggest that the notion of tribes is disproven by the wide range of views and degree of overlap within and among all of these 9 categories.

And I still say, if there are "tribes," there's no such thing as a tribe of "moderates."

Laurie said...

Jerry, it seems very likely to me that you are a staunch conservative. You should try the 12 question quiz to find out where you fit best:

political typology quiz

John fits very well into the libertarian camp and, in case you didn't guess, I belong with the solid liberals. If you peruse the key beliefs for these types you can see some of the many things we disagree about.

Typology Group Profiles

I was thinking about the recent brief discussion on the VA. John thinks the bureaucrats are doing a terrible job (like govt in general), Where I, otoh, rate it as doing pretty well. I'd give the VA a 4 on a 5 pt. scale.

John said...

I don't think any near monopolies are good for customers. The only exception I can think of was Microsoft. Their systems being dominant promoted global communication.

Would you support the Public Education and VA Health systems being a sole provider if they were operated by a Private Owner. I highly doubt it.

Yet since they are government controlled, their near monopoly status is okay?

John said...

A similar situation existed with the big three automakers in the 1950's - 1970's. They were pretty much the only game in town and the customers suffered while the company and unions were over paid for poor performing products.

Then the customers were given real choice in the late 70's and early 80's and the rest is history. We now have access to inexpensive vehicles with better quality, better performance and features we would not have dreamed of back them.

Should we have kept the Big 3 protected from competition like you want to do for the Public Schools and the VA?

Please remember that the near monopoly status of these entities does not hurt folks like me. (ie except for paying higher taxes than necessary) I can afford to avoid government services or I can hire someone to make up for them when they are lacking. The people who suffer because of people like you protecting them are the most needy and unlucky citizens.

That is the cruel irony of Liberals, they say they want to help the needy while spending much of their energy promoting ineffective near monopolies.

Just think if the competitors had not been allowed to challenge the Big 3... You may still be driving something like this.

Laurie said...

have I ever mentioned that I work for a charter school. I don't why you always portray me as the champion of traditional school districts.

As an fyi - Currently, there are 157 charter schools in operation in Minnesota serving approximately 48,000 K-12 students. Parents, especially in mpls and st. paul, have quite a bit of choice. Also most parents are satisified and rate their local school highly.

John said...

Now imagine what charters could accomplish if they received the same funding as the status quo public schools.

"John thinks the bureaucrats are doing a terrible job (like govt in general)"

Though you work for a charter, you often support these "near monopolies" and would be happy to see them stay protected and possibly grow. The unfortunate reality is that private or public entities that do not need to work to keep their customers become bloated, expensive and unfocused.

I don't think the bureaucrats, union members or government are doing a terrible job, I do think they could be doing more for less though. Which would good for those who really need their services. And those who are hard pressed to pay their tax bills.

jerrye92002 said...

Laurie, after I posted my comment I took the quiz and it turned out as you say. But remember that was a set of, what, a dozen binary questions, and on almost half of them I could not find my position on either side. Can conservatives be "nuanced"? :-)

My point remains that this pigeonholing of people into "tribes" is only useful as a shorthand of describing, in general and in some likelihood, of what positions people will take on a given issue. I often use that here where detailed descriptions of issue positions take a lot of words. If I call something a "liberal" idea, you know I mean that it's a bad idea, probably espoused by people with other "liberal" (aka government knows best) people. If YOU use the word, it may mean something else and therefore the best thing is to actually talk about the issue itself.

John said...

"Staunch Conservatives take extremely conservative positions on nearly all issues – on the size and role of government, on economics, foreign policy, social issues and moral concerns. Most agree with the Tea Party and even more very strongly disapprove of Barack Obama’s job performance."

It is okay if you are in the far right seats. It only means that you need to be aware of it and understand how many of the people in the theater may be seeing part of the show that you simply can not because of your chosen seat.

By the way, I agree with Laurie that your comments over the years point to Staunch Conservative. I don't think the quiz was necessary to convince us. :-) By the way, you are in good company with Speed and Numbers Guy...

Now Hiram, Sean and Joel may take a little consideration...

jerrye92002 said...

The point is that I disagree strongly with the Tea Party, and don't consider myself a conservative ideologue. I believe I arrive at my positions for rational reasons and have often urged Republicans to not even MENTION "conservative" when talking about their issue stances. It's unnecessarily divisive and, in this discussion, unnecessarily "tribal." The "right thing to do" does not depend on where you sit in the theater, or shouldn't. The Mohicans and Algonquins got along very well together for many years, just doing what made sense. I wish we would try it sometime.

John said...

You would like to see our 35% of GDP cost of government dropped to 10%. On what exactly do you disagree with the Tea Party folks?

I don't think Laurie and yourself could agree to "just doing what made sense" whether labels were applied or not. The Far Left and Far Right simply have a huge philosophical difference about "what makes sense".

jerrye92002 said...

I don't think I ever said any specific goal to be percent of GDP. I may have suggested that 10%, or some similar number, was the logically "right" amount for government to perform its necessary and limited functions. I disagree with the "Tea Party" because there are any number of groups claiming to be them, some with clearer definitions of policy preferences than others, but largely incoherent on the subject of making their wishes into reality by electing somebody. Where I might agree with them is that it is much easier to stand outside the fray and throw stones. I would also agree, in general, that government is too big and spends too much, but there are MANY groups who believe that.

And I think Laurie and I can agree on a lot of things, if those things have real solutions. If we're just going to argue about who should be in charge of bad policy, that's a political choice and we're not likely to agree on that. I'm still convinced that the majority of our population, though, makes political decisions, based on not having sufficient information (nor the inclination) to logically analyze the problem and formulate a real (i.e. nonpolitical) solution. The more "tribal" we are the less likely we are to recognize that the best solution may be found in another tribe, or somewhere between. How many nearly straight party-line votes have we had in the US Senate in the last 7 years? In how many cases was one Party closer to the right solution than the other?

Laurie said...

about being happy to see them (traditional schools) stay protected and possibly grow. I don't think they are all that protected, as it appears to me that it is not all that difficult to open a charter school. Maybe you and Jerry should team up and open a school, as you are so full of ideas as to how a school should be properly run.

It is interesting that because you have me classified as a solid liberal you seem so sure about what my views are regarding schools and probably many other things, too

Laurie said...

I am stuck at work waiting for family night to start so I thought I'd throw in a quick comment on which choices on the typology quiz were difficult for me. On the other 18 questions I easily answered with my solidly liberal values and world view. The tough questions:

Most people who want to get ahead can make it if they're willing to work hard
Hard work and determination are no guarantee of success for most people

Racial discrimination is the main reason why many black people can't get ahead these days
Blacks who can't get ahead in this country are mostly responsible for their own condition

I did go with the liberal viewpoint and am sure I scored as 100% liberal.

but that doesn't mean you can project specific liberals policy views onto me on education or other issues (though on a lot of things you would be right)

John said...

You brought up the methodology. I just don't see you as "highly religious and socially conservative".

"On the left, Solid Liberals express diametrically opposing views from the Staunch Conservatives on virtually every issue. While Solid Liberals are predominantly white, minorities make up greater shares of New Coalition Democrats – who include nearly equal numbers 0f whites, African Americans and Hispanics – and Hard-Pressed Democrats, who are about a third African American. Unlike Solid Liberals, both of these last two groups are highly religious and socially conservative. New Coalition Democrats are distinguished by their upbeat attitudes in the face of economic struggles."

John said...

"In how many cases was one Party closer to the right solution than the other?"

The words "right solution" are where your thoughts run a ground. ACA was passed by liberals and they still think it is a very good solution. (ie only single payer would be better)

The Bush tax cuts were passed by mostly Conservatives and they still think it was a great solution.

One is leading to higher taxes / premiums for many and one contributed to a HUGE national debt. Neither work wonders.

Anonymous said...

Solid liberal, in case you were wondering.


jerrye92002 said...

"right solution" is indeed a relative term, mostly in comparing one potential course of action (voting yes) versus doing nothing (voting no on the bill). (My belief is that for many "problems" there are much BETTER "right solutions.") The ACA is a magnificent example, thank you. It was passed without a single Republican vote. If it was such a good idea, surely ONE Republican would have voted for it, or if bad (as it had to be and is), one Democrat would have voted against and scuttled the whole deal. Since then Democrats have countless times voted to sustain it, almost every time on party-line votes. Do you honestly believe those votes were, despite the overwhelming negative evidence, proof that (every one of the)Democrats were making an informed decision on "what's right" rather than just being partisan and tribal?

John said...

Joel, Thank you.

Or... Were Republican making an informed decision on "what's right" rather than just being partisan and tribal?

As our other commenters note, an ACA type program has had many GOP advocates over the years. Yet as soon as the DFL supported it, those supporters stopped...

jerrye92002 said...

That statement is, to be blunt, "lacking discernment." You can say that Republicans occasionally supported some sort of "affordable care" that would reach more people, and still understand why the ACA was the direct opposite of that and therefore nowhere close to the "right solution." Anybody with two brain cells to rub together should know that massive Congressional bills that nobody reads, passed through legislative legerdemain on a completely partisan vote, is unlikely to work as advertised. Furthermore, anybody that actually thought about it would realize that the promise of better care, for more people, at lower total cost, was simply impossible. And finally, after reality has shown that we aren't covering more people with "affordable care," and that costs have greatly increased and quality of care has dropped, Dems continue to vote as if the original impossible dream were still a possibility. It's like the critical task on every project plan that says, "And here a miracle occurs."

Again, I will note that when these partisan votes occur, it is far more likely Republicans will defect than Democrats.

jerrye92002 said...

Not that Republicans are all that bright or right, just less partisan, IMHO.