In Praise of Polarization

Polarization is getting a bad rap!  Polarization doesn’t just happen; it’s motivated. Not so long ago elite commentators opined that polarization was just an inside The Beltway “thing”; confident that folks “out there” didn’t care much about the internecine battles between the D’s and the R’s; the analysis, albeit it accurate to a degree at the time, did not enjoy long life or predictive value.    

The early reflections of the fundamental transformation of America are now more evident, by being more evident they also serve as a basis for informed anticipation of what’s to come. 

Perhaps it’s time to just go ahead and get polarized, let’s see where we actually stand, yea or nay.  There is substantial polling data to suggest, on average, pro-transformation, Progressive support is in the 27% – 28% range.  Those who strongly disagree with the current direction range from 40% – 42%.

The soft support on the agree/disagree side of the equation (approve or disapprove but not strongly) is 18% on the approval side and 11% on the disapproval side.

Assume all soft support becomes strong support, unlikely, but take the assumption; it just barely edges out those who strongly disagree with the administration’s direction.  If you make the same assumption for the 11% on the disagree side, it’s a significant majority by today’s standards. (Rasmussen Reports:  Presidential Daily Tracking poll, Commentary on Methodology)    

The Progressive agenda may be on the verge of being rejected again, or at least slowed down.  To clarify; middle-of-the-road, well intentioned liberals are not the subject of the day here, hard core Progressives are.  Unfortunately, well intentioned middle-of-the-road liberals with some centrist sensibility are not running the show for the “D’s” and have not been running the show for quite some time, shame about that, we miss them.

As a polarized nation, we may reject the Progressive agenda in the next election but the energy in the Progressive movement will remain.  Even when rejected, the fossils of the Progressive view remain well entrenched in our institutions, systems and programs.  It is also undeniably true that the international infrastructure in support of Progressive thinking and political action is substantial, significant and well funded.    

America’s move toward a more Progressive European approach occurs as Europe is forced to reevaluate that approach.  Europe faces a plethora of structural challenges resulting from decades of Progressive/Social Democratic dominance.  Birth rates are well below those required for population replacement.  The cost of self defense for the E.U. in the event of a military drawdown by the U.S. represents a cost beyond their capabilities in the moment.  Open immigration policy has resulted in massive pockets of non assimilative immigrant populations, mainly Muslim, which maintains a birth rate 4 – 6 times indigenous European populations.  Powerful unions define a significant portion of European social and economic policy.  Productivity is weak; costs are high and GDP growth anemic. Projections of economic trauma in Europe based on prevailing entitlement systems occurs in the context of flat to negative growth of indigenous populations. The E.U. bureaucracy on top of national bureaucracies is a renewed point of engagement in Europe as is a discussion of national sovereignty, especially in an economic context.  Ironically, Progressivism could devolve in Europe as it evolves in the U.S.   

The pain of Social Democratic devolution is evident in Greece.  The Greek reaction likely has European political elites bound up in fetal positions under their beds as they look at the realities of economics and demographics on one side of the equation and the political street trauma on the other as dominant Greek constituencies fight back against the realities of the Greek financial situation.        

If polarization reflects Americans moving to firm positions, so be it. It’s not a problem to be solved it’s a reality to be recognized; a political report card; one way or the other.  Polarization may be exactly what we need to define the way ahead; one man’s polarization may be another man’s clear majority.