The Flinchum File
Thoughtful Economic Analysis and Existential Opinions

Partisan-Paralysis

10/03/2018

Just when you think that hyper-partisanship could not get any worse, along comes the Kavanaugh confirmation hearings.  For a long time, I have believed that hyper-partisanship was due to two factors.  First, politics become more poisonous when moderates are excluded, which is the result of gerrymandering.  Reliably red districts are not likely to produce moderate Republicans, just as reliably blue districts are not likely to produce moderate Democrats.  Gerrymandering discriminates against moderates, period!  Second, the non-compromising absolutism and the non-fraternization policies introduced by Speaker Gingrich in the early 1990’s ended many of the friendly interactions (including family cookouts) between members of the two political parties, making it easier to demonize the other.  I still believe those are the two primary causes of hyper-partisanship in our country.

But, I’m seeing more and more hyper-partisanship outside the United States.  Increasingly, it is due to immigration, especially in Europe.  And in Asia, the horrible Rohingya genocide in Myanmar is just another ugly stand against immigration.  Because I am insulated from any dangers associated with immigration, I am not been animated on the subject but respect those who are.  Clearly, anger over immigration contributes strongly to hyper-partisanship.  (Look at France and Italy.)  Immigration is the third factor.

However, I am suspicious that the rise of social media is contributing some of the venom.  The Russians proved it can be used to influence voters.  Instead of helping any given candidate, is social media being used to simply inflame passions, to simply cause partisan-paralysis?  By whom?  Is that how the Russians compete against our vastly superior military force?  If we try to do anything about it, social media will be used to fight that effort.  Yes, this is the fourth factor causing hyper-partisanship!

The easy first step is don’t vote for any politician that votes a straight party line.  Anybody voting with his party 75% of the time does not deserve your vote.  As difficult as redistricting is, eliminating gerrymandering is essential to reducing hyper-partisanship.  Redistricting should be done by a bi-partisan commission or by the courts but NEVER by elected representatives.  (Term limits would also help.)  As for immigration, as long as poor people are attracted to a better way of life for their families, they will continue to come.  Channeling and molding that inflow will help calm those passions in long run but not anytime soon.  Lastly, can we eliminate the unhealthy effects of social media if we cannot even name it yet?  More funds must be allocated to tracking down people on the internet and on social media.  Yes, it can be done but will be expensive!  Once caught, they should be prosecuted severely . . . very severely!

As usual in a complex world, there is no one “silver bullet.”

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