In my continuing quest to figure out what the heck is going on with the American electorate, it came to me this morning: This is like my breakup with a college girlfriend.
I’ll call her Samantha. (Although her real name was Donna – I just like the name Samantha. Perhaps this is another reason we split.) She and I had been dating for several years and gradually what had been fun – going to movies, sharing pasta, debating the merits of superheroes – had evolved into a series of smoldering disputes. What Samantha liked, I did not. What I adored, she detested. One day we realized we were living in different universes, and long distance relationships being what they are, we called it quits.
This is the kind of thing the Pew Research Center found in a new study on the contrasting views of Democrats and Republicans – not about politics in particular, but about America in general.
Let’s start with the Republican side. The study found GOPers have a good bit of faith in the positive influence of banks and churches. They have decidedly soured on higher learning, with well over half saying colleges and universities have a negative impact. They don’t feel good about labor unions. And 85 percent call the national news media (read: me) a negative force. I’m sure they call it other things too, but you get the point.
Democrats? Pretty much the opposite. They are much more down on banks and churches. They are much more up on college. They like labor unions. And while 46 percent of them also dislike the national news media, almost as many say the media are OK.
Despite these differences, I would argue we still have a lot in common. We all like freedom and good jobs. We want safe neighborhoods, solid schools and reliable electricity. But undeniably, this study shows we are getting deeper into disagreeing not just about little things, but about big things too – the fundamental nature of us. And if this were a couple, I would not be surprised to hear they were dividing the dishes and working out custody of the beagle.