Yesterday morning I read an article in the Washington Post’s “Express” mini-paper called “Political shopping lists” about how the most recent political campaign has increased divisiveness to the point of affecting people’s shopping choices as folks try to bubble inward with only similar beliefed and minded people. This article made mention of "Hamilton" (you all remember what happened there and the subsequent idiotic “boycott” attempt), Frosted Flakes, Yuengling, and a list curated by the American Family Association of retailers that were “Merry Christmas” friendly, seemingly aimed at those stores that “keep the Christ in Christmas.” We live in interesting times.
One particular passage of this story that stood out to me – moreso than a boycott of motherfucking Frosted Flakes because Kellogg pulled advertising from Breitbart alleging that the site did not align with their values – because of how far-fetched it sounded upon initial reading was this (emphasis mine):
The country isn’t merely polarized; it’s now “affectively polarized,” a social-science term meaning that people don’t merely disagree with one another; they actively dislike one another. A 2014 Stanford study revealed that partisans discriminate against opposing partisans “to a degree that exceeds discrimination based on race.”
So if I’m reading this right, and I’d like to think that I am, there is a study out there that has determined that people discriminate against one another because of politics MORE than they discriminate against one another because of race.
Read that again.
Here is the abstract from the study:
When defined in terms of social identity and affect toward co-partisans and opposing partisans, the polarization of the American electorate has dramatically increased. We document the scope and consequences of affective polarization of partisans using implicit, explicit and behavioral indicators. Our evidence demonstrates that hostile feelings for the opposing party are ingrained or automatic in voters’ minds, and that affective polarization based on party is just as strong as polarization based on race. We further show that party cues exert powerful effects on non-political judgments and behaviors. Partisans discriminate against opposing partisans, and do so to a degree that exceeds discrimination based on race. We note that the willingness of partisans to display open animus for opposing partisans can be attributed to the absence of norms governing the expression of negative sentiment and that increased partisan affect provides an incentive for elites to engage in confrontation rather than cooperation.
To me the abstract almost invalidates that “to a degree that exceeds discrimination based on race.”
So because there’s really no social and consequential negative from espousing negative political rhetoric (and in fact there is an entire news media industry built around this), people are more likely to share their disdain about opposing political parties, which anybody who spends any amount of the day on Facebook will recognize as true and living and trill all wrapped up in a little bow for the little red Corvette. RIP Prince and fuck you 2016.
Meanwhile, we all know that people HATE being called racist. Even the most racist racist simply believes that their views are pro-something or other. White supremacy, to many a white supremacist, is merely an attempt at preserving self. Point is, even in an anonymous study, I imagine that many, many people are going to hide their racist rhetoric for fear of being outed as a racist and then having to fight tooth and nail to clarify that they are not racists, even if they maintain opinions and values that could be construed as racists. Staunchly.
On the other hand, politics are easy pickins. Shit, I was watching some horrible Black movie on BET the other day (Royal Family Christmas, an epicly bad movie that included Vivica Fox and Tichina Arnold) and each of the family members were set to share something with the others. One of the male kids shared that he was a Republican (everybody thought he was going to come out of the closet as gay) and the father remarked that being Republican might be worse than being gay. As ignorant as the entire statement was, that’s really how a lot of people in the Black community feel. I can’t tell you how many side-eyes some of the Black Republican folks I know receive PURELY based on that admission and the negative images and feelings it conjures are immediate and real. We need a reason for their choices and we are not owed one. People are allowed opinions.
Similarly, I’m positive that many a Republican also feels SUPER negatively about Democrats, regardless of color. I come from a family that has quite a few white Republicans in it, and while we make all attempts to sidestep the direct political discourse in favor of general debate about the state of America, your ideals are your ideals and its impossible to NOT speak your opinion into a discussion about anything that reaches to the point of federal spending. So yes, I’m aware that some of my family members have a supremely negative view of Democrats and those who seem to be them, even if they make their best attempts to not stay it in "mixed" company.
Point is, I absolutely believe that folks on either side of the aisle absolutely hate the other side, absolutely.
But there is no fucking way you can convince me that to ANY degree, partisan discrimination exceeds racial discrimination. While I’m sure there are some enclaves in this vast country of ours where Democrats aren’t welcome – maybe there’s a sign in a window – I’ll bet you bottom dollar that you’re probably not SAFE as a minority in those places. I realize this study was in 2014 and perhaps an update in the wake of the most recent political climate would change the results because it feels as if this last election was a referendum on race. The same people who used to keep those racial opinions to themselves are now feeling empowered to go out and openly racist on platforms dedicated specifically to that endeavor.
Nobody’s being fucked by a mortgage company because they’re a Democrat or a Republican, but we have proof that minorities were systematically fucked by big banks. Racial discrimination is an actual thing that’s rooted in institutions and the very fabric of this nation. Sure, Dems and Republicans hate each other, but the politicians we all vote into office dine together nightly and play poker before going back to argue the next day about some policy that doesn’t actually affect their own personal lives.
Clearly, political division is a thing. Many folks have trimmed sizable percentages of Facebook friends since 2014 because of the language and opinions presented by people we think we know. But I think rooted in almost all of that is some ideal about race and how its perceived and actioned by those with dissimilar views. Sure, a dissenting political opinion can be annoying and show you somebody’s true colors on how they view America. But it typically isn’t getting anybody killed. Meanwhile, America has shown its entire ass the past few years on how Black bodies don’t matter to the general populace. While some of these fuckers are arguing about a Republican or Democratic platform, a significant number of us minorities are fighting for our lives and livelihood.
Survey says…get the fuck out of here.