The dynamic reinforces Nate Silverâ€™s observation after the 2012 elections: â€œif a place has sidewalks, it votes Democratic. Otherwise, it votes Republican.â€
Among those who identified as most conservative, 75 percent reported theyâ€™d prefer to live in a place whereÂ â€œthe houses are larger and farther apart, but schools, stores and restaurants are several miles away.â€ Only 22 percent said theyâ€™re prefer to live in a place whereÂ â€œthe houses are smaller and closer to each other, but schools, stores and restaurants are within walking distance.â€
The situation was reversed for the most liberal class of respondents. Among this group, 77 percent said they preferred a smaller house, closer to neighborhood amenities. Only 22 percent would opt for the larger, more isolated house, Pew found. The proportions were roughly reversed for conservatives.
Americans overall were roughly evenly split, with 49 percent saying theyâ€™re prefer the bigger, more remote house, and 48 percent saying theyâ€™d prefer the walkable community.Â Interestingly, both classes of respondents â€” conservatives and liberals â€” showed little love for the suburbs. Just 21 percent of liberals and 20 percent of conservatives said they would prefer living in the suburbs.
Among the factors that were important to liberals and conservatives in choosing a place to live, there were some consistencies and some inconsistencies. Both liberals and conservatives rated living near extended family and strong schools highly. But access toÂ museumsÂ and theaters was particularly important to consistently liberal respondents: 73 percent said these amenities were important to them, compared to just 23 percent of consistent conservatives. Liberals were also more likely than conservatives to say it was important to live in a community with a mix of people from different ethnic and racial backgrounds.
Of course, not all right-wing pundits spew hate. But the ones who do are the ones we liberals dependably aggrandize. Consider the recent debate over whether employers must cover contraception in their health plans. The underlying question â€” should American women receive help in protecting themselves from unwanted pregnancies? â€” is part of a serious and necessary national conversation.
Any hope of that conversation happening was dashed the moment Rush Limbaugh began his attacks on Sandra Fluke, the young contraceptive advocate. The left took enormous pleasure in seeing Limbaugh pilloried. To what end, though? Industry experts noted that his ratings actually went up during the flap. In effect, the firestorm helped Limbaugh do his job, at least in the short term.
But the real problem isnâ€™t Limbaugh. Heâ€™s just a businessman who is paid to reduce complex cultural issues to ad hominem assaults. The real problem is that liberals, both on an institutional and a personal level, have chosen to treat for-profit propaganda as news. In so doing, we have helped redefine liberalism as an essentially reactionary movement. Rather than initiating discussion, or advocating for more humane policy, we react to the most vile and nihilistic voices on the right.
Media outlets like MSNBC and The Huffington Post often justify their coverage of these voices by claiming to serve as watchdogs. It would be more accurate to think of them as de facto loudspeakers for conservative agitprop. The demagogues of the world, after all, derive power solely from their ability to provoke reaction. Those liberals (like me) who take the bait, are to blame for their outsize influence.
Even programs that seek to inject some levity into our rancorous political theater run on the same noxious fuel. What would â€œThe Daily Showâ€ and â€œThe Colbert Reportâ€ be without the fulminations of Fox News and the rest of the right-wing hysterics?
Taken as a whole, the arrangement is entirely cynical. This slavish coverage of conservative scoundrels does nothing to illuminate policy or challenge our assumptions. On the contrary, its central goal mirrors that of the pundits it reviles: to boost ratings by reinforcing easy prejudices. These ratings come courtesy of dolts like me: liberals who choose, every day, to click on their links and to watch their shows.
So why do I do this?
The first and most damning reason is that some part of me truly enjoys resenting conservatives. I know I shouldnâ€™t, that I should strive for equanimity. But secretly I feel the same helplessness and rage that animates the extreme right wing of this country. I see a world dangerously out of balance â€” morally, economically, ecologically â€” and my natural impulse is to blame those figures who, in my view, embody the decadent ignorance of the age. They become convenient scapegoats.
Rather than taking up the banner and the burden of the causes I believe in, or questioning my own consumptive habits, Iâ€™ve come to rely on private moments of indignation for moral vindication. I fume at the iniquity of Pundit A and laugh at the hypocrisy of Candidate B and feel absolved â€” without ever having left my couch. Itâ€™s a closed system of scorn and self-congratulation.
My fixation on conservative demagogues also includes a share of covert envy. The truth is that I feel overrun by moral uncertainty, bewildered by the complexity of our planetary crises. Wouldnâ€™t it be nice, I ask myself, to feel entirely sure of my beliefs? To shout down anyone who disagrees with me? To dismiss peak oil and global warming as fairy tales? To accept capitalism as a catechism?
But whatâ€™s really happening when I scoff at Sarah Palinâ€™s latest tweet amounts to a mimetic indulgence: Iâ€™m bleeding the world of nuance, surrendering to the seduction of binary thinking.
This pattern of defensive grievance, writ large, has derailed the liberal agenda and crippled the nationâ€™s moral progress.
Tom Axworthy has a good article on what ails the Liberal Party and it isnâ€™t all Stephane Dionâ€™s fault. I have to agree.
In their preoccupation with leadership, media and party insiders are missing the real issue. The primary challenge for the Liberal party is that its cause is no longer compelling enough to persuade Canadians to give up their leisure time to join its ranks.
Party renewal, therefore, is not some romantic notion pursued by idealists. Renewal demands hard-headed realism that requires a Liberal party overhaul; rebuilding itself brick by brick, riding-by-riding so it is once again competitive on the ground.
On election night I watched the returns with Barney Danson, Dorothy Davey and several other veterans of past Liberal campaigns. Danson, a former defence minster, recalled that he would send his most experienced volunteers into the large apartment complexes to ensure turnout. Davey, a legendary organizer, recalled inviting undecided citizens for coffee. Others emphasized the importance of signs to raise morale among the troops and help name recognition. None of these tasks can be accomplished without active volunteers.