Home
In this issue
April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review June 7, 2012/ 17 Sivan, 5772

In Praise of Polarization

By Bob Tyrrell



http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | Frankly, I wish the Pew Research Center would occasionally keep its thoughts to itself. Sometimes those thoughts are merely insipid and beneath the attention of serious minds. Sometimes they are alarming and capable of stirring up an already excitable populace. There is talk of cannibalism being practiced by the criminal element. There is Lady Gaga. These are worrisome times. Yet the Pew Research Center has gone and done it again. The Center released a study Monday that employed exhaustive polling and ingenious charts to render my fellow Americans restive, or so it seems.

The Pew Research Center's overall finding is that political polarity in America is tremendously more intense than it has been in decades — possibly since the Civil War, and 618,000 soldiers died in the Civil War! Of course, intense partisanship is the kind of thing that profoundly troubles Bien Pensants everywhere. It leads to legislative gridlock and stalemate.

The Bien Pensants agree with the memorable plaint of one of their own, Rodney King, who pled: "Why can't we all get along?" He uttered those imperishable words as Los Angles was going up in flames, and between several more of his epic run-ins with the law, with neighbors, and with the inevitable bill collector. Yet no matter, he was expressing the Bien Pensants' staunchly held view that if we would all get along, we could establish consensus, follow the Bien Pensants' diktats and pay more taxes, accept more government, and live happily ever after.

Of course, the Bien Pensants do not exactly put it this way. Instead, they say that political polarization is more intense today and troubling. Or as the Pew Research Center's Andrew Kohut, who directed the study, put it, "The only thing that's changed is the extent to which Republicans and Democrats go to opposite sides of the room on most issues." That leaves the center empty and a kind of no man's land.

Kohut's colleagues cited a massive amount of evidence, but let me just mention a few to give you the gravamen of their complaint. Twenty-five years ago on the question of the scope and performance of government, the Pew researchers found the spread between Republicans and Democrats was just 6 percent. Today it is 33 percent. On support for a social safety net, the spread was 21 percent. Now it is 41 percent. On environmental issues it is up from 5 percent to 39 percent. Time and again on public policy after public policy, the gap between Republicans and Democrats has widened. Consensus is dying. What to do?

The alarmists will say: Come back, Republicans and Democrats. Join together in happy comity at the center of Mr. Kohut's room. Mr. Kohut and his friends will tell us what policy to accept and at what cost to taxpayers. Yet in the last three and a half years, the federal government has increased its size to almost 25 percent of the Gross Domestic Product, up from under 20 percent. Traditionally, in peacetime it has been under 20 percent. Is it really wise to accept the Bien Pensants' 25 percent now and into eternity.

There is another matter. Has anyone paid any attention to how effective these policies have been over the past 25 years? Or how expensive they have become? Or what other matters have inched their way up the national agenda, such as the federal debt that today stands at $16 trillion? Possibly, it is time to review our experience with, say, the scope and performance of government or the social net and seek alternative solutions. Perhaps it is time to learn from experience.

To all the alarmed social scientists at the Pew Research Center, I would suggest that ever more Republicans and even many Independents have learned from experience with these public policies. They want to employ different approaches to them like entitlements, which are putting this country on the path to Greece. They also might want to privatize or follow Rep. Paul Ryan's policies of choice.

Some people learn from experience. Some people just keep plodding along, spending more money and heading for bankruptcy. And some seem to believe they can scare the electorate into doing the same old thing. The colleagues at the Pew Research Center are to be numbered among the latter, but they ought to review the content of the policies that Republicans are deserting. We tried them, and they failed.

Every weekday JewishWorldReview.com publishes what many in the media and Washington consider "must-reading". Sign up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.

JWR contributor Bob Tyrrell is editor in chief of The American Spectator. Comment by clicking here.

Archives

© 2008, Creators Syndicate

Columnists

Toons

Lifestyles