Sunday, April 15, 2012

Things That Make People Do Stupid Stuff: Ideological Political Partisans Edition

Conor Friedersdorf provides the claim, data, and warrant.  First, the Republicans,
The fact is that ideological voters are easy to manipulate. Think of the last presidential election. Conservatives had been complaining about John McCain for years. What did it take for them to rally around the Arizona senator? A vice-presidential pick and the perception that the media was attacking her unfairly. This makes no logical sense. The media's treatment of Sarah Palin had no bearing on whether or not McCain would be a good president, or sufficiently better than Obama to justify conservatives going out to the polls for him despite their misgivings and the signal it sent about the future -- that the base is always going to rally around the Republican in the end.
He points out that Democrats are not immune from ideological stupidity.
Meanwhile, President Obama will have no problem rallying progressives, despite his atrocious record of broken promises on civil liberties and executive power, because, well, "the war on women!" Candidates hoping to win over progressives won't feel the need to keep promises on those issues in the future either. Why would they? There's always some way to remind them about their hatred of Republicans and all the very scary things that they'll do if they're given power.
He concludes,
It's no wonder that ideologues on the left and right are so routinely betrayed in the end. They're easily distracted from core issues, deeply invested in symbolic fights, and always fall in line.
Friedersdorf's analysis is spot on.  The sad fact is that most voters won't consider themselves either ideologues or easily manipulated, so local, state, and national elections will continue to have silly debates that  rank the ability to screech about one's ability to meet silly litmus tests over one's ability to effectively lead or legislate.

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