2015 June 12 Friday
Voters Accept Their Party's Positions

Two fake education plans were presented to Democrats and Republicans and alternatively billed as from the same or other party. Check out the results:

Nonetheless, when the specifics in Plan A were presented as the Democratic plan and B as the Republican plan, Democrats preferred A by 75 percent to 17 percent, and Republicans favored B by 13 percent to 78 percent. When the exact same elements of A were presented in the exact same words, but as the Republicans’ plan, and with B as the Democrats’ plan, Democrats preferred B by 80 percent to 12 percent, while Republicans preferred “their party’s plan” by 70 percent to 10 percent. Independents split fairly evenly both times. In short, support for an identical education plan shifted by more than 60 points among partisans, depending on which party was said to back it.

What's important to build support: make sure the plan looks like it is opposed by the other party. What's the lesson here? The US should break up into 2 countries with overwhelming membership in each country only for members of one of the parties. Then within each country there could be more consideration of each proposal on its merits. Or each party would go to the extreme in implementing its policy preferences and we could clearly see what the consequences are for the more extreme preferences of each party.

Then we need a 3rd country for the centrists (or independents or apathetics if you prefer). The 3rd country could watch what works and what messes up badly in the other 2 countries and pick and choose policies from the other 2.

Peter Wehner thinks this shows people are not using intellectual rigor when choosing policy positions.

The Ayres and Mellman survey is ingenious because it empirically revealed an uncomfortable reality: the views many of us hold are largely dictated by partisanship and ideological affiliations rather than intellectual rigor.

Of course not. That'd be hard work with little return on individual investment. Plus, most aren't capable of heavy mental lifting anyway.

When I was a kid I used to think America was so great because it was a democracy and free. Now I'm pretty well disillusioned with the voters and would like to find some way to improve the leadership selection process and incentives for leaders. I do not see how to fix American democracy. Nor do I see what to replace it with.

Share |      By Randall Parker at 2015 June 12 04:16 PM 

Jim said at June 12, 2015 8:09 PM:

Democracies have been rare in human history and in the future we will probably learn why they have been rare.

Dan said at June 13, 2015 10:06 AM:

The reason for a ray of optimism is that the low information voters that fill the booths and stack the deck for the Dems in every metro constituency are almost never the ones testifying at city and county council hearings.

One's political voice will never be heard at the ballot. Grieve and then accept that and realize one can make a difference during the long political offseason between elections.

Of course Corporations know this too. No corporation has ever voted in a US election and yet they dominate much of policy.

Mike Street Station said at June 16, 2015 6:32 AM:

I'm still hopeful that Republics may have some sort of future. Once you figure out how to select the voters who are most likely to apply some wisdom as well as intelligence to public policy.

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