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Thursday, October 2, 2008

the medium really IS the message; or, why republicans are more fanatical about politics than democrats





I spent all yesterday thinking over the following question: why are republicans more politically fanatic, and therefore more active (voting, et. al) than democrats?

today, here's what i think.

it all comes down to "the base(s)." dems have not so much a base, but "ostensible bases." all these bases have their various identities and distinct reasons for political engagement. lets call them the "kitchen sink salad."

now lets consider the republicans. controlling for obvious exceptions to the rule, republicans are (comparatively) much more homogeneous...and therefore much less varied and disparate. lets call them "the stew." permit me to explain that moniker.

the GOP is (relative to dems) much more monolithic, it has a much more identifiable base: white middle class married christians. and this base has two core beliefs: being fiscally and socially conservative. so, according to my (fuzzy) math, a lot of micro/personal differences get set aside as the repubs fall line under the banner of fiscal/social conservatism. hence, "the stew." it all blends into one.

but so what? well...with such a monolithic base, it makes messaging up and down the party (often through, say, media mouthpieces fox news, ny post, boston herald, right wing radio...) so much more effective. the officials can pander so much more effectively, and they can also demagogue the Other (democrats) so much more forecfully.

in sum, it all comes down message and messagering. the "party line" travels easily through the closed circuit that is the GOP. whereas with the dems, the "party line" is not only "parties' lines," but also the messagering has to traverse such a heterogeneous circuit that, in the end, the message becomes (stay with me here) circuitous.

thats why fanaticism tends to be so much more conspicuous in the GOP. the message really is the medium.

please note: i do recognize that there are MANY fanatical democratic zealots, too. but they are the exception and very much not the rule.

: : ari.

post script:

i, too, have read whats the matter with kansas so please dont email me the opposing argument about poor white republicans. they make up a slice of the GOP, but they are far far from the base.

post post script:

i am most likely wrong about all this. i am either being overly reductive, or obstinately biased. but i am not wrong about republicans (in sum) being more fanatical about politics. i can name you 90 democrats off-the-top-of-my-head that hate "how things are in this country," but never vote. BUT TO THIS VERY DAY, i have yet to meet even one self-described republican who doesnt vote.

(of course, voting isnt the only way to be political. but not voting is still the surest abdication of political agency.)

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