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Mon Aug 31, 2020, 07:31 PM

Public opinion research: Ethnic antagonism erodes Republicans' commitment to democracy

(Please go do attack the methodology, the assumptions, the inferences, the conclusions, if you like. I have no thumb in this thumb-wrestling match.)

https://www.pnas.org/content/early/2020/08/26/2007747117?fbclid=IwAR2BB63bXBrlGChlzEoZ7_roozzDBrEXiCYiVbRvILCDfaBWY7YxzRLbT_s

Larry M. Bartels
PNAS first published August 31, 2020 https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.2007747117
Contributed by Larry M. Bartels, July 10, 2020 (sent for review April 29, 2020; reviewed by Donald R. Kinder and Paul Sniderman)

Abstract

Most Republicans in a January 2020 survey agreed that “the traditional American way of life is disappearing so fast that we may have to use force to save it.” More than 40% agreed that “a time will come when patriotic Americans have to take the law into their own hands.” (In both cases, most of the rest said they were unsure; only one in four or five disagreed.) I use 127 survey items to measure six potential bases of these and other antidemocratic sentiments: partisan affect, enthusiasm for President Trump, political cynicism, economic conservatism, cultural conservatism, and ethnic antagonism. The strongest predictor by far, for the Republican rank-and-file as a whole and for a variety of subgroups defined by education, locale, sex, and political attitudes, is ethnic antagonism—especially concerns about the political power and claims on government resources of immigrants, African-Americans, and Latinos. The corrosive impact of ethnic antagonism on Republicans’ commitment to democracy underlines the significance of ethnic conflict in contemporary US politics.

ethnic antagonismpolitical polarizationsupport for democracy
Political developments in the United States and around the world have drawn attention to the question of “how democracies die” (1). While the role of ordinary citizens in democratic backsliding is by no means settled (2, 3), concerns about “democratic deconsolidation” and “democratic erosion” have prompted renewed attention to public attitudes regarding democracy and democratic norms (4⇓⇓–7).

The frailty of public commitment to democratic norms in the contemporary United States is illustrated by the responses of 1,151 Republican identifiers and Republican-leaning Independents* interviewed in January 2020 to survey items contemplating transgressions of a variety of essential democratic principles, including the rejection of violence in pursuit of political ends and respect for the rule of law and the outcomes of elections†. A majority of respondents (50.7%) agreed that “The traditional American way of life is disappearing so fast that we may have to use force to save it.” A substantial plurality (41.3%) agreed that “A time will come when patriotic Americans have to take the law into their own hands.” A near-majority (47.3%) agreed that “Strong leaders sometimes have to bend the rules in order to get things done.” Almost three-fourths (73.9%) agreed that “It is hard to trust the results of elections when so many people will vote for anyone who offers a handout.” In each case, most of those who did not agree said they were unsure; only 1 in 4 or 5 or 10 said they disagreed. These responses are detailed in Table 1.‡

Why do so many people endorse these undemocratic propositions? Political scientists have mostly conceptualized democratic norms as “consensual” and interpreted lack of commitment to them as a product of insufficient social learning: “Those who are actively interested in political events should encounter little difficulty in understanding the principles on which the system operates. Others, less discerning in their powers of observation, more circumscribed in their social roles and experiences, or perhaps more parochial in their perspectives, will be less likely to learn the norms” (ref. 9, p. 403). However, the antidemocratic sentiments reported in Table 1 are not primarily products of social isolation or insufficient education or political interest. Rather, they are grounded in real political values—specifically, and overwhelmingly, in Republicans’ ethnocentric concerns about the political and social role of immigrants, African-Americans, and Latinos in a context of significant demographic and cultural change.

. . . more

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Reply Public opinion research: Ethnic antagonism erodes Republicans' commitment to democracy (Original post)
swag Aug 2020 OP
swag Aug 2020 #1
appalachiablue Aug 2020 #2
Karadeniz Aug 2020 #3
GulfCoast66 Sep 2020 #4

Response to swag (Original post)

Mon Aug 31, 2020, 07:32 PM

1. Gee, and I had been told it was just "economic anxiety"

Really, though. Please go do attack the methodology, the assumptions, the inferences, the conclusions. I have no thumb in this thumb-wrestling match.

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Response to swag (Original post)

Mon Aug 31, 2020, 09:51 PM

2. Some things clearly stand out, interpreting it all takes some work.

(American life for the majority has clearly declined along with democracy as we well know).
Excerpts, Ed:
..More recently, the limitations of Americans’ commitment to specific democratic norms has begun to come back into focus. For example, a series of surveys conducted between 2010 and 2017 employing items originally designed for use in Latin America found 23–36% of US respondents agreeing that a military coup would be justified “when there is a lot of crime” or “when there is a lot of corruption.” Researchers concerned that the respondents might be misunderstanding the questions tested a variety of alternative question wordings—for example, specifying that the military would “take power over the U.S. government by removing the president by force.” However, they concluded that “respondents’ opinions are not conditional on clarifying the target and nature of the coup” (13).

In another series of surveys conducted in 2017–2018.. only 73% of Americans said it was “important” or “essential” that “government does not interfere with journalists or news organizations,” and only 68% said it was “important” or “essential” that “government effectively prevents private actors from engaging in politically-motivated violence or intimidation” (ref. 6, pp. 703–704). Unlike surveys in which respondents are asked to assess the “importance” of democratic norms in the abstract, the survey items presented in Table 1 mimic real politics in pitting democratic values against other cherished values such as patriotism, strong leadership, and the “traditional American way of life.” Faced with such trade-offs, relatively few Republicans—1 in 4, or 5, or 10, depending on the item—decline the invitation to “bend the rules” or “take the law into their own hands.”§

Republicans are not alone in their uncertain attachment to democratic values. For example, Kalmoe and Mason found that majorities of Democrats and Republicans alike viewed the other party as “a serious threat to the U.S. & its people,” while Democrats were slightly more likely to say that “violence would be justified” if the opposing party won the 2020 presidential election (ref. 14, pp. 18, 19, 23).,.
>The willingness of both Democrats and Republicans to sanction abuses of democratic procedure is especially clear when survey items refer explicitly to the president. For example, in 2017, with a Republican in the White House, Republicans were twice as likely as Democrats (24–11%) to agree that “when the country is facing very difficult times it is justifiable for the president of the country to close the Congress and govern without Congress.” However, in 2014, with a Democratic president and a Republican majority in Congress, that partisan difference was reversed—30% of Democrats but only 6% of Republicans were willing to countenance the president closing Congress (15).

While antidemocratic sentiments clearly exist in both major political parties, the nature and bases of those sentiments are likely to differ significantly between the two parties. The specific survey items in Table 1, with their references to “the traditional American way of life” and politicians offering handouts, tap frustrations that are more common among Republicans than among Democrats. Moreover, the attitudes that turn out to be highly predictive of agreement with these items among Republicans are quite rare among Democrats.¶ Thus, an examination of Democrats’ allegiance to democratic values would require somewhat different measures and very different explanations from those offered here...

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Response to swag (Original post)

Mon Aug 31, 2020, 10:14 PM

3. Article supports what I've come to realize: there are a heck of a lot of Americans who are not

Committed to democracy or don't understand the things necessary to maintain democracy. A few years ago, a lady told me that anyone who disparaged the president (Trump) should be punished. She had no that that's how fascism works. She thought and thinks she's patriotic.

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Response to swag (Original post)

Tue Sep 1, 2020, 08:40 PM

4. The idea that the US has ever been a true democracy is a myth we tell ourselves.

Thru most of our history huge groups of Americans, based on sex, color or economic status have been denied the franchise.

As these deficits have been slowly rectified the improvements have been fought the entire time.

And now the white ruling group(which I am one although obviously not on their page) has suddenly realized they face an existential crisis. The fact they will soon me in the minority. In my opinion this is what is driving most of the turmoil we see.

There is really only way they can keep their power and that is to restrict the vote again on non-whites. It’s not going to work. But it’s all they have.

I did not expect it this soon. But they are serious about keeping America a white, Christian nation. The AG has said so much.

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