Tuesday, April 27, 2010


I was listening to NPR Morning Edition, again, on the commute to work. Someone was expressing deep consternation about Americans self segregating with 'their own kind' and not interacting with Americans different from themselves.

But there's a conundrum buried in this and other recent surveys, says Scott Keeter of the Pew Research Center. Although a huge majority of respondents say they are fed up with partisanship -- 78 percent say lawmakers are unwilling to compromise -- Americans themselves are extremely divided, Keeter says.

"If a very polarized electorate is making nonnegotiable demands on their members as to how they're going to have to behave when making legislation, then it's going to be very difficult for the members if they want to get re-elected to have the latitude to compromise," he says.

In other words, you get what you vote for. Ornstein also sees the broader divisions in society.

"We're moving into communities with like-minded people," he says. "We're watching and listening to the media that reinforce the messages we already believe."

This assertion assumes two things. 1: That it is indeed an actual trend, and people are sorting themselves in like minded and like looking enclaves, and 2: That this is a bad thing.

I have no idea about #2. But we can grab some anecdotal evidence among bloggers for #1....

Well, maybe they have a point. Tam and Roberta live in the yankee hippy haven of Broadripple Indiana. And we all know both of them are huge liberal Democrat vegetarians that abhor violence, even in self defense, and spend their days smoking dope and playing hackey sack and saying 'gooooooovy' a lot.

Breda lives near Cleveland with her own kind. Unwashed hobos. Breda concentrates her political efforts to expanding hobo rights in the voting booth as well as expanding their access to public restrooms.

And based on my neighborhood, I am either an 80+ year old WWII veteran, or a relatively recent Guatemalan or El Salvadorian immigrant. I say relatively recent, as the immigrants in my 1950's brick bungalow neighborhood, meant for federal gummint commuters, came to the US in the 1980s, for the most part. Fleeing the Commies. They tend to be business and home owners with kids about to go into college and aren't too sure about the recent mass influx of fresh immigrants. 'Too fast! They need to speak English, first!' Just a bit of a tongue-click worry, not too severe. (You're doing fine Jose. Shaping up into a typical American.) I just appreciate the Pollo Campero style chicken shacks, charcoal broiled with a combination of spices I have never had before...

Marko is in that famous German-American enclave of rural New Hampshire. Nothing but schnitzel eaters in a 50 mile radius.

So I guess NPR's guy is right. We are all keeping to our own kind.

Ok, none of that is true. The assumption that would be made would be that Breda, Tam, Roberta, Marko, and myself, all being Alpha-Type Gun Nuts, would move to a militia compound with all the other snake-handling cousin humping rednecks in gun friendly flyover country. And we aren't quite that either.

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