Left and right are more similar, hate too

Three recent articles Economist and inside because Suggest that the typical Republican and the typical Democrat hate each other more and more at the same time because they are becoming more and more alike. In the first article, Economist A Pew Research Center survey report reveals that Republicans and Democrats have increasingly demonized individuals from other groups (“How Democrats and Republicans View Each Other,” EconomistAugust 17, 2022):

A survey of American adults conducted between June 27 and July 4 by the Pew Research Center, a think-tank, found that 62% of Republicans have a very unfavorable view of Democrats, up from 21% in 1994. Democrats’ share was similar, while Republicans’ opinion rose from 17% to 54% over the same period. …

Americans are increasingly willing not to express their disapproval of members of the other party, but to assign them negative personality traits. According to Pew, large majorities of Democrats and Republicans now view those in opposition parties as closed-minded, dishonest and immoral. … About half of each group says that members of the other group are less intelligent.

The second article is a fascinating piece by Stephanie Slade, “Both Left and Right Converging on Authoritarianism” in the October 2022 issue of because. Slade documents how Republicans and Democrats increasingly converged on the desire to use state power to interfere with the economy and individual choices. Just consider that both sides have become more protectionist and more tempted by industrial policy. Or consider how both want to regulate free speech, with Democrats pushing social media companies to implement private censorship, Republicans preventing them from doing so (Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is a good example of the latter). Slade wrote:

This is what makes our politics feel so broken. It is no farther than the left and right way; It’s the way they get closer together.

Third article, in the present issue Economist, argues that, as its headline points out, “Republicans are falling in love with America Inc.” (Issue dated August 25, 2022). A few highlights:

Mr. Vance [backed by Trump to replace Ohio Senator Rob Portman] Calling the big tech companies “enemies of Western civilization” and casting elite managers as part of the “regime,” with vested interests in America’s heartland. …

Executives and lobbyists interviewed Economist, speaking on condition of anonymity, described Republicans as becoming more hostile, both in tone and, increasingly, in substance. …

Right-of-center dominance—in favor of free trade and competition, against industrial policy—has swept away long-held dogmas. …

[Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL)] Supported the formation of workers’ councils in companies, which are alternatives to unions. In March, Tom Cotton of Arkansas called on Americans to “reject the ideology of globalism” by curbing immigration, banning certain American investments in China, and advising Congress to “punish China for offshoring.” Republicans in Congress have co-sponsored several bills with Democrats to rein in big tech. Mr. Vance … proposed raising taxes on companies that move jobs overseas. …

These days, one business magnate worries, both sides see it as “acceptable to use state power to force private companies to conform to their views.” …

Texas Senator Ted Cruz blames BlackRock boss Larry Fink for high petrol prices. …

Companies are adapting to this new, more volatile political reality. Some are creating formal processes to review the risks of speaking out on social issues that could cause political backlash, including from Republicans. …

Corporate PACs have funneled 54% of their campaign donations to Republicans so far this year, down from 63% in 2012.

How can individuals of each party hate their fellow citizens of the other party even more when the two parties are coming closer ideologically? The reason is that their ideology is essentially two shades of political authoritarianism. Each group seeks to forcefully impose its preferences on the individuals of the other group, limiting the freedom of the latter. What exactly they want to impose on others is different. Slade expresses the same idea:

The two camps, of course, have different moral visions for the society they seek to create. But everyone sees the broader concept of individual freedom as an obstacle to achieving that vision.

He cites a study that looks more encouraging:

The American Aspiration Index, a survey released last year that uses survey research to determine Americans’ priorities for the country’s future, examined 55 “national aspirations.” … For all the sense that Americans are more different than ever, guaranteeing that “people have individual rights” has emerged as the No. 1 answer for every demographic group, regardless of age, race, urbanism, gender, and education level.

Is this optimism justified? Casual observation suggests that when Americans are asked specific questions, rather than surveyed in general statements of policy, a surprising proportion show clear authoritarian tendencies (though not as much as people in some other countries). An Ipsos poll four years ago asked Americans whether “the president should have the power to shut down news outlets that engage in misconduct.” While a bare majority of 53% of the total sample disagreed, fully 26% agreed—compared to 43% among Republicans and 12% among Democrats.

Moreover, Economist Shows, perhaps unintentionally, how Republicans to begin with, were not, or were not, in favor of free markets, where consumers are sovereign and producers, if they want to make money, compete to sell what they want. What they favored were rather corporate interests, which happened to support the free market when they were not much protected against domestic or foreign competition. Economist wrote:

In the words of one executive at a major financial firm, “We expect the Democrats to hate us.” What is new is contempt from those on the right. There was a time, one lobbyist recalls nostalgically, when “you’d walk into a Republican office with a company and the question would be, ‘How can I help you?'”

In stark contrast to the “road to serfdom” that both Republican and Democratic factions are pushing the country down, a large part of the (classical) liberal outlook and libertarian beliefs want each individual to be free to think and live as he or she likes. , at least, within the confines of general and impersonal laws that apply equally to everyone (including politicians and bureaucrats, of course).

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