The Rise of Partyism and What to do about the Big Sort?

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86 Responses

  1. Burt Likko says:

    Yeah, but would you want your sister to marry a Republican? 😉

    More seriously, it’s hardly surprising that people feel more comfortable when they have a critical mass of like-minded individuals around them. So it’s hardly surprising if people want to move to a place where they feel like others are going to have similar opinions and attitudes about things.

    I’ve had a large handful of clients say they were getting out of California because too many decisions were being made politically that they strenuously disagreed with. In the past eight years, maybe three dozen clients have expressed this sentiment to me, and maybe three of them have actually followed through on it. So it’s not quite a “If so-and-so gets elected, I’m going to Canada!” kind of thing, although one of them moved to Idaho which is kinda close.

    I’ve also had people say they were getting out of my particular area of California because they found it too stifling socially, notwithstanding politics. Again, the number of people who say this is only large in proportion to the number who actually do it. Most people make do where they’re at because it costs money to make these sorts of lifestyle changes.Report

    • Of the ones who have actually made the jump, where have they ended up? Texas politicians like to talk about California-to-Texas migration, but when you look at the net migration between the two states, it’s rather small compared to the one-way migration in either direction. If you look at the other states in the Rockies-to-the-Pacific West that have significant metropolitan areas — Arizona, Colorado, Nevada, Oregon, Washington — those five have about the same total population as Texas, but there’s a lot more migration between them and California than there is between Texas and California.

      Long story short, the numbers support a narrative that people who live west of the Great Plains tend to stay there.Report

  2. greginak says:

    People may be sorting themselves. However many people especially those darn kids are using the net to meet and know far more people, from all over the world, then anyone could have imagined a few decades ago. People talk to, by video, blogs, irc, etc, other humans from all over the world. We see their videos on youtube, read their papers, listen to their music, see their pix on flickr. Bitter partisanship may be rising in some ways and people are clustering with like minds but in a very great sense we can meet and know people from around the world easily. We know more about what people far away think and do and how they live. Well if we want to we do. Those who only want to know people just like them are still free to do that. I can’t help but think those people tend to be older and would always have been more closed to others. The future of the world is with who use our wondrous tech to know more about it.Report

    • Saul Degraw in reply to greginak says:


      I think you overestimate how much of the Internet is not like-minded sorting as well. As far as I can tell most of the Internet is even more marginalized like-minded people sorting and finding each other. Many Internet fights and wars seem more rough and brutal than the partisan bickering that happens in real life like gamergate.Report

      • morat20 in reply to Saul Degraw says:

        Gamergate, I have been assured, is actually about ethics in journalism. (That was sarcasm, just in case anyone thinks I’m sympathetic towards those spit-flecked rabid dogs).Report

      • Jaybird in reply to Saul Degraw says:

        I could not possibly improve upon Morat’s comment.Report

      • greginak in reply to Saul Degraw says:

        @saul-degraw oh yeah gamergate is sleazy. There is certainly plenty of self sorting on the tubes. However it is also really easy to lose sight of how many people make up different movements and groups. Are the gamergaters millions of people or thousands with a lot of free time and plenty of vitriol? I’m guessing it’s number 2. The power of twitter and mass e-mails can make a small group big especially when then get media attention.Report

    • Saul Degraw in reply to greginak says:

      Yes I am a cynic.Report

  3. LeeEsq says:

    The only thing that can end partyism in the United States is a return to the Calvinistic beliefs of our puritanical ancestors.Report

  4. It seems more like Jewish people in not-Jewish areas will continue to be called “good Christians” because it is inconceivable in Evangelical land for someone to be good and also believe that Jesus was not the Messiah.

    Or it’s a figure of speech. Not that it isn’t a micro-aggression of sorts and not that it doesn’t reflect the attitude you speak of, but it is also a manner of speaking that is often unthought out and mostly well-intended, like “have a blessed day.”Report

    • Saul Degraw in reply to Gabriel Conroy says:


      All speech as subtext including this as a figure of speech. I don’t think it is meant to be offensive but it contains an offensive subtext by simply not thinking the statement out to its logical conclusion. By substituting Christian for person, you are strongly implying that someone who is not Christian cannot be a good person.

      And yes people should be cognizant of what they say and the subtext it can convey. I don’t expect perfection. I mess up plenty of times on this as well. I would like some more thinking instead of speaking without thought.Report

  5. On what I take to be your main argument, I think I agree. The “big sort” isn’t a particularly new thing: take a look at the self-selected professional network I’m a part of and the parochial neighborhoods that exist in supposedly “cosmopolitan” cities like NYC and Chicago. I also suspect there’s more diversity of opinion even in communities that seem on the surface to be composed of likeminded, self-selected individuals.Report

    • Lyle in reply to Gabriel Conroy says:

      Actually it is the old big sort: Rural communities often tended to be grouped by ethnic heritage. In addition you found similar communities in the big cities. (Consider reports that there were polish, german, czech, irish, etc parishes in Chicago 100 years ago.) Different ethnic groups interacted only at work, and went home to live. Look up Bridgeport in Chicago where the Daly family lived as an example.Report

  6. James Hanley says:

    The U.S. used to be a lot more socially segregated on an ethnic basis. Now we have a lot more ethnic intermarriage.

    If we’re sorting more ideologically (about which I remain unpersuaded), I’d still call that a good tradeoff.

    But good news doesn’t sell.Report

  7. North says:

    I’m utterly unmoved by the wails about the “big sort”. The factors that drove bipartisanship in the past were not benevolent ones (primarily Jim Crow and corruption) and I am pleased that the former at least is crumbling out of the public sphere.Report

    • LeeEsq in reply to North says:

      I think that in a non-parliamentary system, a certain amount of corruption is necessary to make politics work. Politics is the art of the horse trade and if you forbid the politicians from trading than nothing gets done. You need whats called honest graft, ear-marks and such. In a parliamentary system, especially with a first past the post system, horse trading doesn’t matter because people vote by party and the party or coalition that has the legislature controls the executive. You don’t need to wrangle up votes usually. In a Presidential/Madisonian, an inability an inability to horse trade makes getting votes much more difficult. Even in parliamentary systems, a certain amount of honest graft probably doesn’t hurt. There is such a thing as a too clean political system and that isn’t necessary a good thing.Report

      • Murali in reply to LeeEsq says:

        I think it is a defect of non-parliamentary systems that they require graft to work. institutional quality is important and if you are right about non-parliamentary systems, that is a huge strike against themReport

      • zic in reply to LeeEsq says:

        @murali, I’m not sure that non-parliamentary systems are really any different; votes on legislation are still won by agreeing to support something you don’t care about in exchange for a vote on something you do care about; often funding or a slight rule change that’s important to the people from your district.Report

      • Murali in reply to LeeEsq says:

        If Lee is right in terms of his analysis of non-parliamentary systems, then parliamentary systems are different and better.

        Let’s look at the least corrupt places in the world

        1. Denmark – parliamentary
        2. New Zealand – parliamentary
        3. Finland – parliamentary
        4. Sweden – parliament with constitutional monarchy
        5. Singapore – parliamentary
        6. Switzerland – Directorial representative democracy
        7. Netherlands – Parliamentary democracy + constitutional monarchy
        8. Australia – Parliamentary
        9. Canada – Parliament
        10. Luxembourg – Parliament with constitutional monarchy

        In fact you have to go all the way to the United States and Uruguay which are tied for 19th place before you find a presidential system.Report

      • LeeEsq in reply to LeeEsq says:

        Murali, I agree with you. The need for non-parliamentary systems to use graft is a very big strike against him. Parliamentary democracies generally work better in actually representing the concerns of the voters*, especially if they don’t use a first past the post voting system, and avoiding corruption because control of the legislature determines control of the executive.

        *The downside is that the winning party could bring in sneak in major changes that the majority of voters do not want more easily in paralimentary democracies. In most European countries, the death penalty enjoyed majority support when it was abolished. France was the last European country to get rid of the death penalty, which enjoyed at least 60% choice at the time it was abolished. The method of abolishment was to campaign on some other issue and incidentally get rid of the death penalty after you won. These unwanted top-down changes are more difficult to pull off in non-parliamentary systems.

        zic, you need to form coalitions in parliametnary countries that do not use first past the post voting but the exchanges tend to be more in the way if you support our guy for prime minsiter than we will give your party these ministries. Its still much more clean than telling a representative that if you vote for x we will give your district millions of dollars in funding for y. In a parliamentary system with a first past the post election system, the former isn’t even necessary because one party can get a majority of the parliament and complete control of the executive and legislature. If your not Scandinavian and you want the lowest levels possible of corruption than thats the way to go.Report

      • zic in reply to LeeEsq says:

        I won’t argue that.

        But I think much of the problems in the US come not from a parliamentary/presidential system so much as from lack of compromise or ability to negotiate in Congress; and this was brought about, in great part, by eliminating earmarks, which gave members incentive to act in a bi-partisan manner. In a parliamentary system, where there are more than two factions, the need to compromise amongst different factions to achieve any particular political victory is more often baked into the system, since no single faction is (often, not always) likely to have a majority of legislators.

        Because we’ve eliminated earmarks, the process is hobbled, and partisanship increases; there’s little to be gained by allowing people go graciously go against the party line. But that’s not graft, it’s grease.Report

      • Michael Cain in reply to LeeEsq says:

        …votes on legislation are still won by agreeing to support something you don’t care about in exchange for a vote on something you do care about; often funding or a slight rule change that’s important to the people from your district.

        My perception is that, at least at the national level, this is less and less true. Congress doesn’t vote on many rule changes any more — they’ve delegated the details like that to the executive branch. Take CO2 emissions as an example. The EPA, the states, and the courts have settled whether CO2 is a pollutant, whether it can be regulated, and the degree to which it can be regulated — Congress has been noticeably absent from the entire process. And on the major items that Congress does attempt to address, the parties seem to have become rather draconian in making members toe the line.Report

      • North in reply to LeeEsq says:

        I don’t have any beef with that Lee, though I’d agree with Murali that it makes Parliamentary systems look comparably preferable.Report

      • Mo in reply to LeeEsq says:

        There’s no horsetrading in parliamentary systems? There is horsetrading between major parties and minor parties in coalition governments. It’s just that the nature of the horsetrading is different than our regionally based one. So you end up getting things that only a relatively small proportion of the population wants in order to keep the coalition intact.

        I would also be curious to see which democratic governments are the most corrupt. I would wager that they are mostly parliamentary as well. This isn’t because parliamentary systems are more corrupt, but because they are far, far more common.Report

      • Mo in reply to LeeEsq says:

        @leeesq It’s not just posts, but policies. For example in Israel, the religious right parties have outsized power on policy relative to their size because of coalition necessities.Report

      • Murali in reply to LeeEsq says:


        List of most corrupt governments starting from the worst

        175. Somallia – parliamentary
        175. North Korea – military dictatorship
        175. Afghanistan – presidential
        174. Sudan – Presidential
        173. South Sudan – Presidential
        172. Libya – Parliamentary
        171. Iraq – Parliamentary
        168. Uzbekistan – Presidential with appointed prime minister
        168. Turkmenistan – Presidential
        168. Syria – Semi-presidential
        167. Yemen – Presidential with appointed prime minister

        I think the picture is quite clear, at least on the face of it the most corrupt countries in the world are largely dominated by presidential systems. There may be more parliamentary systems, but not that many more.

        According to Wikipedia,

        45 countries are classified as parliamentary republics
        Of the 64 countries classified as fully presidential, 43 are presidential and have no prime minister and 21 are presidential with a prime minister who is appointed by the president.

        27 are semi-presidential where both the president and the prime minister exercise significant executive authority (though the president tends to have more in such systems)

        8 are mixed republican systems where the head of state and government are appointed by the legislature, but not subject to parliamentary confidence during their term.

        All these numbers exclude 38 constitutional monarchies, of which 29 have ceremonial monarchs. These have parliamentary systems. 9 of them have more active monarchs.

        In total, there are 74 parliamentary systems and a maximum of 64 fully presidential systems if you wish to include those with appointed prime ministers and 43 if you do not. The difference in numbers of parliamentary and presidential systems does not explain why the most corrupt systems tend to be presidential while the least corrupt ones tend to be parliamentary.Report

      • Chris in reply to LeeEsq says:

        I think those countries have problems over and above their system of government. What’s more, given that small sample, I’d be hesitant to draw any conclusions.Report

      • Murali in reply to LeeEsq says:


        163. Haiti – semi-presidential
        163. Guinea Bissau – semi-presidential
        163. Equatorial Guinea – presidential
        160. Venezuela – Presidential
        160. Eritrea – Presidential (on paper, but is really a single party dictatorship)
        157. Zimbabwe – Presidential
        157. Myanmar – Presidential
        157. Burundi – Presidential
        154. Tajikistan – semi-presidential
        154. Democratic Republic of Congo – semi-presidential
        154. Republic of congo – presidential
        153. Angola – Presidential
        150. Paraguay – Presidential
        150. Kyrgyzstan – Parliamentary

        My sources are


      • James Hanley in reply to LeeEsq says:


        It may be that presidentialism is part of what keeps those countries mired in their problems.

        I don’t know that such is the case, but I could probably give a pretty good ad hoc argument for it.Report

      • Will Truman in reply to LeeEsq says:

        Presidential systems are not inherently inferior to parliamentary systems, but they are subject to specific vulnerabilities. They vest a lot of power in an individual, which for a country that is sensitive to totalitarianism is a problem. Once in power, they can be really, really hard to remove. A lot of power springs from the individual to their party and their government, which can be a recipe for serious problems.

        It doesn’t mean that presidentialism is bad, but it does mean – to me – that they should almost always come with (lifetime) term limits to prevent the person from becoming more powerful than the office.Report

      • scott the mediocre in reply to LeeEsq says:

        @murali re 9:52 am

        Margrethe II (of Denmark) will be quite surprised to learn that she has been deposed.

        For that matter, New Zealand, Australia, and Canada will also be surprised to learn that they don’t have a queen, although for many people in Australia it will be a happy surprise.

        For a more serious analysis of corruption versus political system, I would say you have a serious confound problem, e.g. one might make a fair point that Australia vs NZ gives us sort of a test of FPP vs MMP, but against that there are significant scale differences between the two (plus, NZ has James K., which makes NZ even more sui generis than it would be otherwise).

        After all, there is only one First World country that uses a presidential system; historical accident puts most semipresidential systems in the former East Bloc, … I can’t think of any natural experiments in First World countries (maybe 4th versus 5th Republic France, but then you are diachronic), but there might be some in the former colonies.

      • Murali in reply to LeeEsq says:


        Malaysia and Singapore are parliamentary while Philippines and Indonesia are presidential. Malaysia ranks 53, Philippines 94 and Indonesia 114.

        On the other hand, Myanmar, which is presidential, outdoes parliamentary Cambodia by a very slim margin.Report

      • Chris in reply to LeeEsq says:

        @murali @james-hanley , I’m willing to entertain the idea, but Murali hasn’t presented the data I’d need to believe it, or more importantly, a causal model to explain it. Hell, it looks to me like these countries, many of which have an extended history of poverty and strife, as well as deep structural problems that preceded their current form of government, ended up with “presidential” systems in part because they were such a mess, not the other way around. That is, they’re the sorts of places that would have ended up with despots a century or so ago, and now that they’ve got governments modeled on first world western systems (perhaps in no small part so that they can get first world western money), the despot is just called the “president.” Sometimes there is a democratic process, sure, but a process highly favoring the existing power structure.

        Of course, having a despot cum president is likely not going to produce the sorts of reforms necessary to make things better for a country, and this likely indicates a failing in the presidential system, but the causality is more complex.Report

      • j r in reply to LeeEsq says:

        My guess is that there may be some meaningful differences in the likelihood of presidential vs parliamentary systems to experience corruption; however looking at the top and bottom of the Transparency International list does not tell us much.

        Most likely what that is telling us is that corruption correlates quite well with authoritarian governments and that authoritarian governments tend to be organized as presidential systems.Report

      • LeeEsq in reply to LeeEsq says:

        Channeling Juan Linz; Presidential systems work best when the parties are heterodox and contain a wide ideological range within each party. Until recently liberal or conservative Presidents of the United States always had liberals and conservatives within each party that they could turn to for votes. Most relied mainly on their own party but never entirely so. When parties in a Presidential system tend towards the ideological unity of parliamentary parties than your running into some serious issues. It gets harder to determine who posesses the most legitimacy. If the people elect a liberal President from Party A and fill the legislative branch with Conservative Party B member than who is really representing the will of the people? Even if you could determine legitimacy why should conservative legislatures work with a liberal President. Neither has any real interest in compromise.Report

      • Pinky in reply to LeeEsq says:

        I’d suspect that it’s easier for a strongman government to pretend to be presidential than to pretend to be parliamentary.Report

      • Jesse Ewiak in reply to LeeEsq says:

        I believe the old line is that you have an election, then form your coalition in a parliamentary system, but you form your coalition, then have your election in a Presidential system.Report

    • Pinky in reply to North says:

      Jim Crow was bipartisan?!Report

      • Mo in reply to Pinky says:

        Due to Jim Crow you had coalitions of anti-Jim Crow Dems and Rockefeller Republicans against Southern Dems. You also had coalitions of conservative, southern Dems and conservative Republicans.Report

      • North in reply to Pinky says:

        Pinky Jim Crow Dixiecrats represented a large constituency within the Democratic Party that were culturally and politically sympathetic to the GOP. That allowed a lot of cross party comity that was eliminated when the Dems went full civil rights and the Dixicrats migrated to the GOP.Report

      • LeeEsq in reply to Pinky says:

        The Republicans didn’t do much to oppose Jim Crow after they agreed to end reconstruction so Rutherford B. Hayes could be President. They made gestures to African-Americans once in awhile but those never got anywhere. It would have been nice if the Federal Elections Bill of 1890 became law though.Report

      • LeeEsq in reply to Pinky says:

        Or bluntly, hatred against African-Americans was nearly nigh universal among White Americans from the end of the 1870s to the end of the 1940s. Outside the South, racism against African-Americans took subtler forms and was more a matter of custom than law but it still existed. Even without officially sanctioned segregation, an unofficial Jim Crow existed in most places in the United States.Report

      • Pinky in reply to Pinky says:

        I guess I shouldn’t have phrased that as a rhetorical question, even with the added exclamation point. Just so there’s no ambiguity: Jim Crow was not bipartisan. Republicans opposed it. Democrats supported it. By definition there was no “unofficial” Jim Crow.Report

      • j r in reply to Pinky says:

        Just so there’s no ambiguity: Jim Crow was not bipartisan. Republicans opposed it. Democrats supported it.

        That really depends on when you are making that statement. From Wikipedia:

        Within each house of Congress Northern Democrats gave the Civil Rights Act of 1964 more support than did Northern Republicans and Southern Democrats more support than Southern Republicans. Amongst members of the U.S. House of Representatives who represented congressional districts in the South, more Democrats (seven out of 94 or roughly seven percent) than Republicans (none out of 10) voted for the Act. Of Northern Democrats in the House, 145 (out of 154 or 94 percent) voted for the Act compared with 138 (out of 162 or 85 percent) Northern Republicans. All (100 percent) of the 10 Southern Republicans in the U.S. Senate voted against the Act as did most (20 or 95 percent of 21) Southern Democrats. This pattern of greater support for civil rights coming from Democrats than from Republicans also shows among Northerners: 98 percent (45 out of 46) of Northern Democrats but only 84 percent (27 out of 32) of Republicans supported the Civil Rights Act of 1964.


      • Kolohe in reply to Pinky says:

        “By definition there was no “unofficial” Jim Crow.”

        By definition, it’s ‘Jim Crow by other means’ with restrictive housing covenants, job discrimination, and mob violenceReport

      • Kolohe in reply to Pinky says:

        But the overall point is that American politics between 1876 and 1960 (non inclusive) was anchored by a monolithic Democratic voting bloc in the American South that itself ran nearly the entire ideological spectrum on the conventional left-right axis.Report

  8. zic says:

    Bring back earmarks, so that kongresskritters have some motivation to compromise, and partyism will decline back down to normal tribal ID instead of primary tribal ID.Report

    • James Hanley in reply to zic says:

      Earmarks were only “banned” in the last few years (and not totally banned at that, just moved into back channels and reduced), while partisanship in D.C. has been hardening for a generation.Report

      • Don Zeko in reply to James Hanley says:

        I do wonder how much goo-goo reforms are responsible for our current polarized, ideological, compromise-averse politics. Generally good government types would prefer political decisions to be made in more high-minded ideological ways, rather than transactional, but if you take that too far you may well wind up with the sort of dysfunction we have now.Report

      • nevermoor in reply to James Hanley says:

        I agree with this. I’ll just add that partisanship is only a necessarily bad thing in a system with enough checks and balances that the minority can credibly prevent governance and therefore has the incentive to do so.

        I assume we can all agree that the GOP minority (at least, for the next couple months) has adopted this tactic, and has been almost uniformly successful at achieving the goal of preventing governance. As a result, they look to be in line for a strong performance today, after which they will control Congress and the new Democratic minority will work to prevent governance.

        At least in a parliamentary system, the coalition that wins an election actually can do the things they promise, and does not need the minority party’s consent. It would be interesting to see whether the GOP’s promises would change in that scenario, as actually following through on tax cuts seems not to have sparked massive growth in Kansas.Report

  9. j r says:

    Maybe it makes sense for all of us to overcome our issues and live in more ideologically diverse communities but it does not make sense for any individual to do so because he or she would likely stick out very badly.

    I can sort of understand why someone might feel that way, but I have just about the opposite feelings. Put me in a room full of people who are tripping over themselves to agree with one another and signal their affiliation to the group and the first thing that I want to do is get the heck out of that room. Actually, the first thing that I want to do is troll them a bit, and then get the heck out of that room.

    I cannot make this pitch in moral terms, but only surrounding yourself with people with whom you agree is corrosive. It is corrosive to the intellect and probably a little bit corrosive to the soul. We all know about the epistemic closure on the right and the sort of toxic environments that it breeds. And I have to agree with Freddie DeBoer when he talks about a similar phenomenon among social justice-ey millennials. I don’t know how many conversations I see online where someone posts something supposedly progressive, someone else gives an alternate view and the response to the dissenting view is something like “UGH… SIGH… You just don’t GET it!!!”

    People don’t need to agree with one another and people do even half to like one another, but people ought to be able to meaningfully communicate with one another. And meaningful communication across ideological divides takes practice.Report

  10. Jaybird says:

    Perhaps partyism would go down if we eliminated the other guys?Report

  11. Pinky says:

    I recently said on one of the Purity threads that I thought that religion fell into the Haidt category of “impure” within liberal culture. I didn’t get many nods of agreement. Now this article talks about being “liberal enough that religion is a forbidden topic of open discussion”. I suspect that there’s some conscious self-parody in that phrasing, as if liberalism is expressed best by blocking discussion of differences. But the idea behind it seems genuine. If anyone wants to know what a purity test looks like, it’s right there.Report

    • Saul Degraw in reply to Pinky says:


      The phrase was a bit inartful. There is plenty of religion in San Francisco/liberal Bay Area. I live in a neighborhood with more than one church and one that allows double parking on Sundays so people can go to church and not have to worry about moving their cars. San Francisco still maintains strong Catholic roots (a lot of my friends who grew up in SF went to Catholic School whether they were Catholic or not. San Francisco also has a proud Jewish history and I participate in Young Jewish events from time to time.* There was an attempt to ban circumcision in San Francisco a few years ago and most San Franciscans opposed the measure because they felt it violated the religious rights of Jews and Muslims. Everyone is very accommodating when you say you need time off for your religious observations. Two years ago, the town of Walnut Creek was doing some road construction which would have prevented people from going to High Holiday services and when people complained the town was very apologetic and found a way to make a quick accommodation the day before.

      What I meant by liberalism is that everyone is very respectful and you don’t really talk about religion openly or attempt to mass conversion. There is one guy who holds up a “Jesus Loves You” poster downtown and every now and then some fire and brimstone people come in to try and convert wicked San Franciscans.

      This is contrasted with stories about my Jewish friends from redder areas where they go to lunch with colleagues and are the only ones not saying grace or bowing heads before meal. There is also a very big plaintiff’s law firm in Alabama that also mentions which church each of their lawyers belongs to. Here is a random example:

      “David and Vicki have two teenage children, and they are members of Frazer United Methodist Church.”

      Beasley Allen is a great firm. I would want them on my side but I find this need to list the church of almost every single lawyer (I found two bios that did not contain a church membership) to be odd. There is a lot of Jesus on those bio pages and that is stuff you simply don’t find on most law firm bio pages, maybe it is more common in the South? It obviously singles something important in Alabama and it also somewhat interesting that many seem to belong to the same church. Though I would still feel uncomfortable as a Jewish person working in this kind of environment. I don’t think it would be hostile (maybe they mention religion because plaintiff’s lawyers are traditionally associated with Democratic Party politics) but being exotic would wear down psychically. It would be interesting to see the reaction to “Saul Degraw belongs to Temple Beth Or.”Report

      • j r in reply to Saul Degraw says:

        This is contrasted with stories about my Jewish friends from redder areas where they go to lunch with colleagues and are the only ones not saying grace or bowing heads before meal.

        I am not sure that counts as being disrespectful or attempting mass conversion.Report

      • Pinky in reply to Saul Degraw says:

        Saul, it wasn’t just the phrasing of the sentence I extracted. The whole paragraph was written to make a deliberate point, that religion other than yours is something that you don’t want to be exposed to. Call that liberality if you want, but I’m going to chuckle at it. Tell me how your neighborhood is welcoming. The fact is, if I wanted a definition of impurity, I could go with “people shouldn’t do it or if they do they should keep it to themselves”, which is what you just said about religion.Report

      • Pinky in reply to Saul Degraw says:

        Also (and this is a bit of a tangent), why did you talk about praying before eating as a distinctly Christian thing? I don’t know of a religion that doesn’t do it. Certainly it’s part of Judaism.Report

      • Nathaniel Costo in reply to Saul Degraw says:

        “David and Vicki have two teenage children, and they are members of Frazer United Methodist Church.”

        It is one throwaway sentence in a poorly-written bio page. It is unlikely that more than 1% of Mr. Dearing’s clients would ever pay attention to what church he belonged to.Report

      • Jaybird in reply to Saul Degraw says:

        Also: Methodists let out early.Report

      • Chris in reply to Saul Degraw says:

        This is contrasted with stories about my Jewish friends from redder areas where they go to lunch with colleagues and are the only ones not saying grace or bowing heads before meal.

        I used to be uncomfortable when this happened, but then I realized saying grace at a restaurant (something mot Catholics don’t do, so I never did it when I was still religious either) just looks kind of silly, so as the one person without my head bowed, I shouldn’t be the one who feels awkward.

        There is always an awkward moment when I try to decide if I should at least put my hands together or not oggle the food or something so I at least look like I respect what they’re doing even though I’m not doing it. Then sometimes I get a strong urge to just start eating while they’re doing it, because seriously, it’s annoying.Report

      • Glyph in reply to Saul Degraw says:

        While the gentiles’ heads are bowed and their eyes are closed at the IHOP, Saul should snag a piece of bacon off their plates. As the only Jew at the table, he’d be above suspicion. The perfect crime.Report

  12. Shelley says:

    The problem isn’t how important the parties are.The problem is how important they aren’t. Four billion dollars spent on today’s election, mostly by corporate wealth bypassing the party structure to make direct appeals to the “low-information” (my favorite euphemism) voters.

    And they will triumph today.Report

  13. LWA says:

    The claims of bipartisanship and centrism are bunkum, and always have been.
    A quick look at American political history can tell us that much.

    It isn’t just a nostalgia for what never was, it is a pernicious sort of insult to everyone involved, by refusing to acknowledge real and serious differences. Its like people who wave a hand and wonder why the Israelis and Palestinians can’t just shake hands and be friends, or that somehow the Civil War was just a series of misunderstandings that multiplied (yes, I actually read that in a history book in middle school).

    In the war of ideas, sometimes there are places where compromise and accord can be reached, but other times, there are ideas that simply have to be confronted and defeated.Report

    • James Hanley in reply to LWA says:

      You’re overplaying this. Talk to anyone with D.C. experience, and they’ll tell you it’s become more partisan in the last generation. Dems and Repubs used to go to the same parties, now they don’t. It used to be possible for staffers to shift party, now once you’ve identified with a particular party the other side won’t touch you.

      Reagan and Tip O’Neill used to have drunks in the White House, just the two of them. It’s rather unimaginable these days. W inviting Pelosi over just to watch a movie, get a bit schnockered, and tell stories? Obama and Boehner?

      Talk about bipartisanship doesn’t mean it was all collegial and everything was done by bipartisan consensus. It meant you didn’t see the other side as evil to be absolutely shunned.Report

  14. Will Truman says:

    @saul-degraw @gabriel-conroy @james-hanley It’s worth pointing out that The Big Sort isn’t a faux-sociology essay by Brooks. While I haven’t read the book, it does present actual data that, even if this isn’t a new thing, it’s more of a thing than it used to be.

    I don’t think it’s a conscious sorting by political ideology per-se, so much as it is a sorting by culture which leads to that since culture and cultural markers and self-image are so integral to political alignment. Which itself, I think, may be more the issue.

    I’m not particularly concerned about clustering by culture and by extension ideology. I agree that it’s an improvement over a lot of the alternatives that have existed throughout our history. My main concerns are what that clustering lead to, such as employment bias (not just the employment bias, but what the employment bias represents).Report

    • Saul Degraw in reply to Will Truman says:


      I am more concerned about the employment stuff. I felt like that could have been more clear in the essay probably. I’d like to think that I could hire someone even if they were strongly partisan Republican. I tend to be in a law field that has always swung Democratic though.Report

    • Dand in reply to Will Truman says:

      The problem with the Big Sort is it uses county level data, causing it to be deceptive. For example 60 year the City of Chicago was very solidly blue while the suburbs were very solidly Red, today the city is still very solidly blue while the suburbs are purple. Using the Big Sort’s county level method this makes Cook County look more polarized than it used to be. In reality residents of Chicagoland are probably less likely to live in a polarized municipality than they were 60 years ago. Chicago 60 years was an extreme case but the same thing has happened throughout the Northeast and Midwest suburbs have gone from red to purple while cities have stayed solidly blue.Report

  15. Tim Kowal says:

    My law partner’s a pretty rabid Dem., me a pretty rabid Repub., and we get along just fine. Conversely, I spar pretty heatedly on Facebook with both my aunt and a buddy from college — not to mention with you all when I’m around. I chalk it up to my old theme of process versus policy: My liberal law partner is usually a little surprised to find I’m fairly moderate on policy. What turns me “partisan” is the constitutional and small-r-republican shortcutting, e.g., the current trope wondering if midterms have outworn their welcome because Twitter! and Progress!, North Carolina media covering for the Dem there, as Politico’s Dylan Byers admits is alarming, the stark liberal bias in social psychology “me-search,” as self-identified liberal Jonathan Haidt acknowledges, and which in turn tilts our policy discussions, etc. That’s just from my feed since Sunday.

    On policy, I can usually at least see where the other side is coming from. It’s the meta that’s got everyone heated up.Report

  16. Chris says:

    How does this work? I mean, let’s say I move to Yellow Springs. When I get there, I’m all happy because, hey, these folks are much more like me than the people in Texas. Then we get to know each other a bit, and I realize that some people are more like me than others, so I move to their side of town. Then conflict arises, and factions emerge, because it turns out some of us have different ideas about whether one should trim the grass along the sidewalk out, away from the sidewalk, or just along the tops. Those of us who are separaters move to one part of the neighborhood, and the toppers the other, and we get along great, until…

    Relatedly, I am continually shocked at how unbelievably sheltered some adults are, and how easy it is to mask prejudice and a deep-seeded feeling of superiority as a sense of aesthetics.Report

    • Saul Degraw in reply to Chris says:

      I think that is a bit of an exaggeration. Certain areas develop reputations as being for people who come from a certain profile or from a certain cultural mindset. The SF-Bay Area has a strong reputation as an LGBT friendly area and there are many LGBT people who come out here as soon as they can. Some wait until after high school or college and others come out sooner and end up as street kids sadly.

      NYC is still largely where you go if you want a career as a writer, in publishing, in theatre, in media, etc and maybe people in those careers fit a particular ideology.

      I think this is true for a variety of areas and could be unconscious.

      “Relatedly, I am continually shocked at how unbelievably sheltered some adults are, and how easy it is to mask prejudice and a deep-seeded feeling of superiority as a sense of aesthetics.”

      Hmmm…Was this a dig?Report

    • Will Truman in reply to Chris says:

      A couple higher profile examples would be the migration to Portland among young liberals, or the reaction that moving to Dakota elicits from Saul. I think the same is true in a more local scale. People with one kind of sensibility moving to downtown and others to the outer suburbs, with the sensibilities tracking with politics to a degree.

      Then there comes a self-reinforcing aspect where our perceptions of how “the other side is” is influenced more by Fox News than actual contact (even though any particular red area has Democrats and vice versa, they’re more likely to keep their heads down and avoid conflict).Report

      • Chris in reply to Will Truman says:

        I was exaggerating (also, as much as I like Yellow Springs, I wouldn’t move there because Ohio’s cold). And I totally get hanging around people who like the sorts of things you like, generally. It makes sense to live by as many such people as possible too, because then your social world is immediate. For this, a neighborhood will suffice.

        There are exceptions, of course. If I had a daughter, I would not want to live in a state with restrictive abortion laws. I further would not want to move to a place where the racism is so rampant that it would seriously affect R.’s quality of life (sorry South Carolina and Mobile).

        However, the fact that there are people around here who might vote for a Republican in the next presidential election does not bother me at all, and I can’t understand why it would bother anyone else. What’s more, I can’t imagine there’s anywhere I could move in this country to get away from them. They’re everywhere!Report

      • Glyph in reply to Will Truman says:

        @will-truman – I thought that link was going to be this.Report

  17. Damon says:

    I think there is SOME of this going on. But it’s also mixed into the process of people sorting themselves by CLASS. And frankly, in some areas, it’s just not possible to self sort. For example, in my case, my industry is primarily located in one geographic location. That area is VERY LIBERAL. So I can’t move away without changing industries. The best I could hope to achieve is move to more conservative counties within the state and endure a longer commute.

    I do think that people are becoming more and more intolerant of people who hold opposing viewpoints. I see and experience this very frequently. Sadly, I can get along with almost anyone because I don’t view people’s politics as critical in determining whether I want to associate with them. Most others, as least in my area, do.Report

    • Jim Heffman in reply to Damon says:

      I think that has a lot to do with it. Purity tests are become a lot more common.

      And, as someone mentioned in an earlier comment, I think it’s because finding a new community (or creating your own) is easier than it used to be. We used to *have* to moderate our speech and opinions and purity-testing because otherwise there’d be nobody around to talk to. These days, there’s millions of people on the Internet, many of whom will happily agree with you (at least for your first few posts.)Report

  18. Brian Murphy says:

    You have to deal with people praying in your vicinity? The horror! Surely we are only a goosestep away from an atheist auschwitz?Report