Zeal Gap?

 

The gallery for --> Democrats Vs Republicans MapIs there a zeal gap in American politics? This question plays off the infamous “missile gap,” a campaign fiction deployed by JFK to defeat Nixon in 1960, when Nixon was the Vice President to the General of the Armies who defeated Nazi Germany. Conventional wisdom says liberals/Democrats are zealous in politics, like sports fans, where conservatives/Republicans tend to only engage episodically. Is this advantage real, and is it still there?

Years ago, a self-identified liberal cheerfully wrote, for a major publication, that she and her fellow liberals view politics like other Americans view sports. It is fun to fire off a quick letter to a politician or corporation and make a few calls to friend and foe offices. Daily. Yes. Daily. Whereas, conservatives, and the rest of the population, only rarely rouse themselves to a single episode of political expression. This is anecdotal, but we all have anecdotes to affirm this claim.

How many times has Rush Limbaugh, excused this, providing conservative audiences with the sneer “we’re too busy working?” Yet, Rush is a football fanatic. He loves to regale his audience with his sports and consumer technology enthusiasms. Rush is zealous in promoting and defending his brand, the basis of his wealth. Assume that he is also sincere, not just a showman, in his politics. Perhaps, then, Rush is carefully not pressing the “political zeal” button any harder than his audience will tolerate.

On the other hand, perhaps pressing the “political zeal” button daily wears out the button. Perhaps the 24/7 news cycle, plus pervasive social media, engineered to hook you to the next dopamine hit, of affirmation or outrage, has saturated the body politic’s sensory receptors. Perhaps a burst of input from usually quiet sources, maybe even with messages that strike differently than the usual messages, breaks through the constant noise from political zealots. Maybe the Kavanaugh circus, plus the odd occurrence of Democrats taking October surprise hits this year, instead of Republicans, has awakened quiescent voters.

When political science academics, who are overwhelmingly leftist, start writing about partisan activism negatively, you can bet they are actually trying to tamp down activism from the right, rising to meet the preexisting leftist activism. “Red and Blue States of Mind: Partisan Hostility and Voting in the United States,” only gets written, as it was, when the leftist consensus controlling the field sees indicators of budding real opposition.

When President Trump gets crowds as large, or larger, than the past two years, at his MAGA rallies, with a willingness to stand in lines for hours, something is happening. When a sister, who hasn’t written a barrage of letters to politicians since Obamacare was being rammed through the Congress, unleashes that barrage again at many members of Congress, decrying the terrible treatment of Judge Kavanaugh and his family, something is happening. When a 35-year-old friend reacts to social media assaults on Judge Kavanaugh, including the assault on the presumption of innocence, by registering as a Republican, in order to vote for the first time in his life, something is happening. It may be a burst of enthusiasm, countering leftist zeal, or it may be the front edge of rising conservative and libertarian zeal, closing the zeal gap with the left.

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  1. Fake John/Jane Galt Coolidge
    Fake John/Jane Galt
    @FakeJohnJaneGalt

    I have a friend that is 58 and has never registered to vote or voted in his entire life.  Because of Trump he registered to vote as a Republican because of Kavanaugh he had went and voted early.

    • #1
  2. Vectorman Inactive
    Vectorman
    @Vectorman

    Your picture showing the Republicans and Democrats duking it out has the wrong colors and is backwards. Dems are red* and on the left side

    * Yes, I know the colors changed “recently.”

    • #2
  3. Clifford A. Brown Contributor
    Clifford A. Brown
    @CliffordBrown

    Vectorman (View Comment):

    Your picture showing the Republicans and Democrats duking it out has the wrong colors and is backwards. Dems are red* and on the left side

    * Yes, I know the colors changed “recently.”

    Yes, and who changed it? Look for the change to change. The socialists are proudly reclaiming their ideological heritage, so look for a young wave of leftists in media to flip the color scheme for 2020, 2022 on the outside. Blue is the conservative color, as a trip through any Tory neighborhood will show.

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    • #3
  4. Jon1979 Lincoln
    Jon1979
    @Jon1979

    Clifford A. Brown (View Comment):

    Vectorman (View Comment):

    Your picture showing the Republicans and Democrats duking it out has the wrong colors and is backwards. Dems are red* and on the left side

    * Yes, I know the colors changed “recently.”

    Yes, and who changed it? The reds are proudly reclaiming their heritage. Blue is the conservative color, as a trip through any Tory neighborhood will show.

    Blame NBC and Tim Russert for that during the 2000 election cycle and the recount.

    As for Democrats and politics-as-sport, it really goes beyond that for them, to politics-as-religion. It’s also why Washington and virtually every major state capitol in the U.S. is a deep Blue zone, because people who see government as their religion also see the places where governing takes place as their Meccas and flock to them like moths to a flame, even in Red states (i.e., there are Blue areas of big cities in Texas like Dallas, Houston and San Antonio, but only Austin progressives want to be accepted into the bi-coastal Cool Kids Club to the point they’ll openly trash their own state, and wish it was New York or California, when things don’t go their way).

    • #4
  5. Boss Mongo Member
    Boss Mongo
    @BossMongo

    I think, if you examine Rush, he is (as he attributes to Trump) all about pacing and timing.  He’s been teasing for over a week now articulating both “where would we be of HRC were president” and “what happens if the dems take the house?”

    As a regular (okay, daily, one day behind because I listen to the podcasts) I’d posit that 1) deeply believes what he espouses and 2) knows how to keep his powder dry, while he watches the calendar.

    • #5
  6. Clifford A. Brown Contributor
    Clifford A. Brown
    @CliffordBrown

    Boss Mongo (View Comment):

    I think, if you examine Rush, he is (as he attributes to Trump) all about pacing and timing. He’s been teasing for over a week now articulating both “where would we be of HRC were president” and “what happens if the dems take the house?”

    As a regular (okay, daily, one day behind because I listen to the podcasts) I’d posit that 1) deeply believes what he espouses and 2) knows how to keep his powder dry, while he watches the calendar.

    I don’t disagree. I just posit that he truly understands his listenership, and his lack of regularly mashing the “do something” “political zeal” button likely reflects his read of how often he can push them to act.

    • #6
  7. Boss Mongo Member
    Boss Mongo
    @BossMongo

    Clifford A. Brown (View Comment):
    I don’t disagree. I just posit that he truly understands his listenership, and his lack of regularly mashing the “do something” “political zeal” button likely reflects his read of how often he can push them to act.

    Concur.

    • #7
  8. Bob Thompson Member
    Bob Thompson
    @BobThompson

    I think of this idea in terms of two different concepts. Zeal is a word that most people will associate with action or doing something. Leftists accommodate to this very nicely because their raison d’être is to have the collective, through government, do stuff, even if it is only denying an individual’s right to do something.  Conservatives tend to substitute understanding what the role freedom of choice has for individuals in their life pursuits, so less visible concerted group action. This description does not cover everything and thus is not perfect, but I think it does explain some differences in intensity or the ‘gap’.

    • #8
  9. drlorentz Member
    drlorentz
    @drlorentz

    Lefty’s running scared. The tell is the change of tactics from hyping the blue wave to complaining about potential voter suppression: excuses prepared in advance to explain a loss.

    • #9
  10. Clifford A. Brown Contributor
    Clifford A. Brown
    @CliffordBrown

    Bob Thompson (View Comment):

    I think of this idea in terms of two different concepts. Zeal is a word that most people will associate with action or doing something. Leftists accommodate to this very nicely because their raison d’être is to have the collective, through government, do stuff, even if it is only denying an individual’s right to do something. Conservatives tend to substitute understanding what the role freedom of choice has for individuals in their life pursuits, so less visible concerted group action. This description does not cover everything and thus is not perfect, but I think it does explain some differences in intensity or the ‘gap’.

    How are conservatives zealously defending and expanding liberty, or the freedom to choose (within bounds), against daily encroachment by the state and its corporatist allies, driven by the left’s zealous advocacy and participation within the state and corporations?

    • #10
  11. Arahant Member
    Arahant
    @Arahant

    This conversation is an entry in our Group Writing Series under October’s theme of Zeal. If you have an idea for writing about zeal or something that makes you enthusiastic, we can double up a day, since our calendar has all the slots filled.

    Or, you might consider writing about Elimination, our November theme. Have a tale to tell about having gotten rid of something? Want to get rid of something and want advice? Ever been eliminated from the competition? Come sign up and tell us about it.

     

    • #11
  12. Sisyphus Member
    Sisyphus
    @Sisyphus

    Zeal gap? I can’t get worked up about that.

    • #12
  13. Matt Balzer, Straw Bootlegger Member
    Matt Balzer, Straw Bootlegger
    @MattBalzer

    Sisyphus (View Comment):

    Zeal gap? I can’t get worked up about that.

    I think I got the party for you then.

    • #13
  14. Full Size Tabby Member
    Full Size Tabby
    @FullSizeTabby

    Clifford A. Brown (View Comment):

    Bob Thompson (View Comment):

    I think of this idea in terms of two different concepts. Zeal is a word that most people will associate with action or doing something. Leftists accommodate to this very nicely because their raison d’être is to have the collective, through government, do stuff, even if it is only denying an individual’s right to do something. Conservatives tend to substitute understanding what the role freedom of choice has for individuals in their life pursuits, so less visible concerted group action. This description does not cover everything and thus is not perfect, but I think it does explain some differences in intensity or the ‘gap’.

    How are conservatives zealously defending and expanding liberty, or the freedom to choose (within bounds), against daily encroachment by the state and its corporatist allies, driven by the left’s zealous advocacy and participation within the state and corporations?

    Generally conservatives don’t zealously defend liberty because those daily encroachments are not obvious to most people. Only occasionally when something dramatic happens – like President Barack Obama declaring that he’s going to use a pen and a phone to unilaterally fundamentally change the country (and candidate Hillary Clinton endorses that approach) – conservatives realize they need to do something. 

     

    • #14
  15. Bob Thompson Member
    Bob Thompson
    @BobThompson

    Full Size Tabby (View Comment):

    Clifford A. Brown (View Comment):

    Bob Thompson (View Comment):

    I think of this idea in terms of two different concepts. Zeal is a word that most people will associate with action or doing something. Leftists accommodate to this very nicely because their raison d’être is to have the collective, through government, do stuff, even if it is only denying an individual’s right to do something. Conservatives tend to substitute understanding what the role freedom of choice has for individuals in their life pursuits, so less visible concerted group action. This description does not cover everything and thus is not perfect, but I think it does explain some differences in intensity or the ‘gap’.

    How are conservatives zealously defending and expanding liberty, or the freedom to choose (within bounds), against daily encroachment by the state and its corporatist allies, driven by the left’s zealous advocacy and participation within the state and corporations?

    Generally conservatives don’t zealously defend liberty because those daily encroachments are not obvious to most people. Only occasionally when something dramatic happens – like President Barack Obama declaring that he’s going to use a pen and a phone to unilaterally fundamentally change the country (and candidate Hillary Clinton endorses that approach) – conservatives realize they need to do something.

     

    Or when an honorable man is attacked without evidence and that attack is supported by elected Leftists who demonstrate that ‘they don’t need no stinking’ evidence’.

    • #15
  16. Kozak Member
    Kozak
    @Kozak

    The Trump re-election campaign, which sponsors the MAGA events held across the country, reported that 100,000 requests for tickets had been received by Sunday afternoon. Only 18,000 seats are available inside the venue.

    “Texas is big and so will be the turnout,” read a statement from the chief operating officer of the campaign. “That’s why we organized the Big Texas Tailgater outside Toyota Center. Food trucks will be on site, and large screens to watch the rally for the spillover crowd.”

    • #16
  17. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    I suspect that a lot of people on the right are becoming motivated because they’re just plain frightened by the mobs and rhetoric of the Left. They realize that if they are to be stopped, the voters on the Right are the only ones who can do it. It’s not just a matter of choosing who you prefer, or speaking up: it’s about saving the country.

    • #17
  18. Bob Thompson Member
    Bob Thompson
    @BobThompson

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):

    I suspect that a lot of people on the right are becoming motivated because they’re just plain frightened by the mobs and rhetoric of the Left. They realize that if they are to be stopped, the voters on the Right are the only ones who can do it. It’s not just a matter of choosing who you prefer, or speaking up: it’s about saving the country.

    Wouldn’t this apply to Independents and many Democrats as well?

    • #18
  19. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    Bob Thompson (View Comment):

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):

    I suspect that a lot of people on the right are becoming motivated because they’re just plain frightened by the mobs and rhetoric of the Left. They realize that if they are to be stopped, the voters on the Right are the only ones who can do it. It’s not just a matter of choosing who you prefer, or speaking up: it’s about saving the country.

    Wouldn’t this apply to Independents and many Democrats as well?

    Indeed. I was responding to the comment earlier that Republicans generally aren’t out making a fuss. I also think there is an element of revenge with the Dems that the Republicans don’t share.

    • #19
  20. Bob Thompson Member
    Bob Thompson
    @BobThompson

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):

    Bob Thompson (View Comment):

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):

    I suspect that a lot of people on the right are becoming motivated because they’re just plain frightened by the mobs and rhetoric of the Left. They realize that if they are to be stopped, the voters on the Right are the only ones who can do it. It’s not just a matter of choosing who you prefer, or speaking up: it’s about saving the country.

    Wouldn’t this apply to Independents and many Democrats as well?

    Indeed. I was responding to the comment earlier that Republicans generally aren’t out making a fuss. I also think there is an element of revenge with the Dems that the Republicans don’t share.

    This is what generated my comment. I agree that turnout by the right will have a positive effect but I think many more Independents and Democrats need to vote Republican to accomplish what is needed.

    • #20
  21. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    Bob Thompson (View Comment):
    This is what generated my comment. I agree that turnout by the right will have a positive effect but I think many more Independents and Democrats need to vote Republican to accomplish what is needed.

    I agree again! My hope is that enough Democrats are embarrassed by what transpired with Kavanaugh, and the Independents are horrified by same, and will come over. That may be wishful thinking, but I hope.

    • #21
  22. Vance Richards Member
    Vance Richards
    @VanceRichards

    Clifford A. Brown: When a 35-year-old friend reacts to social media assaults on Judge Kavanaugh, including the assault on the presumption of innocence, by registering as a Republican, in order to vote for the first time in his life, something is happening.

    Yes, and I have to admit that the only ones who seem to get me excited about voting for Republicans are the Democrats

    • #22
  23. David Foster Member
    David Foster
    @DavidFoster

    “Years ago, a self-identified liberal cheerfully wrote, for a major publication, that she and her fellow liberals view politics like other Americans view sports.”

    Maybe some of them, but for a lot of the “progressives” I believe the reason for the political obsession goes deeper and is more dangerous.

    Sebastian Haffner, in his memoir of growing up in Germany between the wars, says that when the political and economic situation stabilized, during the Stresemann chancellorship, most people were happy:

    The last ten years were forgotten like a bad dream. The Day of Judgment was remote again, and there was no demand for saviors or revolutionaries…There was an ample measure of freedom, peace, and order, everywhere the most well-meaning liberal-mindedness, good wages, good food and a little political boredom. everyone was cordially invited to concentrate on their personal lives, to arrange their affairs according to their own taste and to find their own paths to happiness.

    But not everyone was happy.

    A generation of young Germans had become accustomed to having the entire content of their lives delivered gratis, so to speak, by the public sphere, all the raw material for their deeper emotions…Now that these deliveries suddently ceased, people were left helpless, impoverished, robbed, and disappointed. They had never learned how to live from within themselves, how to make an ordinary private life great, beautiful and worth while, how to enjoy it and make it interesting. So they regarded the end of political tension and the return of private liberty not as a gift, but as a deprivation. They were bored, their minds strayed to silly thoughts, and they began to sulk.

    and

    To be precise (the occasion demands precision, because in my opinion it provides the key to the contemporary period of history): it was not the entire generation of young Germans. Not every single individual reacted in this fashion. There were some who learned during this period, belatedly and a little clumsily, as it were, how to live. they began to enjoy their own lives, weaned themselves from the cheap intoxication of the sports of war and revolution, and started to develop their own personalities. It was at this time that, invisibly and unnoticed, the Germans divided into those who later became Nazis and those who would remain non-Nazis.

    I believe that this description applies to many Leftists in America today.  While there are some people on the Right like this, but I believe most Trump supporters are motivated by trying to defend themselves, rather than by searching for missing meaning.

    • #23
  24. Randy Webster Member
    Randy Webster
    @RandyWebster

    Clifford A. Brown: It is fun to fire off a quick letter to a politician or corporation and make a few calls to friend and foe offices. Daily. Yes. Daily.

    It’s the old “We have jobs,” thing.

    • #24
  25. Clifford A. Brown Contributor
    Clifford A. Brown
    @CliffordBrown

    Kozak (View Comment):

    The Trump re-election campaign, which sponsors the MAGA events held across the country, reported that 100,000 requests for tickets had been received by Sunday afternoon. Only 18,000 seats are available inside the venue.

    “Texas is big and so will be the turnout,” read a statement from the chief operating officer of the campaign. “That’s why we organized the Big Texas Tailgater outside Toyota Center. Food trucks will be on site, and large screens to watch the rally for the spillover crowd.”

     

    The Mesa MAGA event had 40,000 attendees, according to Mesa PD. We’re not as big as Texas, but Arizona punches way above its weight.

    • #25
  26. Clifford A. Brown Contributor
    Clifford A. Brown
    @CliffordBrown

    Randy Webster (View Comment):

    Clifford A. Brown: It is fun to fire off a quick letter to a politician or corporation and make a few calls to friend and foe offices. Daily. Yes. Daily.

    It’s the old “We have jobs,” thing.

    So do they. But they might do this instead of watching a show, family time, sports… 

    • #26
  27. Clifford A. Brown Contributor
    Clifford A. Brown
    @CliffordBrown

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):

    Bob Thompson (View Comment):
    This is what generated my comment. I agree that turnout by the right will have a positive effect but I think many more Independents and Democrats need to vote Republican to accomplish what is needed.

    I agree again! My hope is that enough Democrats are embarrassed by what transpired with Kavanaugh, and the Independents are horrified by same, and will come over. That may be wishful thinking, but I hope.

    The campaign theme, now a part of the MAGA events, has become “Jobs, not Mobs!” I think it distills the issues nicely and helps direct people who have not focussed on politics.

    • #27

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