Group Identity Notes

Doug Rivers, the chief scientist at YouGov, said: “Americans tend to think that countries populated by people of their own race are allies of the United States. For example, African-Americans rate Ethiopia, Nigeria, Ivory Coast and Sierra Leone as allies, while white Americans consider these countries to be somewhat unfriendly. Similarly, Latinos, but not whites, considered El Salvador to be an ally. European countries are rated more friendly by whites than by either African-Americans or Latinos.”


(Smug, conservative) Beauty and (Liberal) Beast

And here I thought Fox News found good looking blondes and molded them into conservatives.  But based on the research cited below, I now believe that they find good looking blondes who are already predisposed to a Hobbesian world view.  Bill O’Reilly is the exception that proves the rule, as they say.

Curiously, the beauty premium seems to be of most benefit to politicians on the ideological right. Niclas Berggren, of the Research Institute of Industrial Economics, in Stockholm, and his colleagues recently performed the head-shot test on politicians from Finland, the European Parliament, and the United States. The more attractive candidates were not only likelier to have won their elections but also likelier to lean conservative. Why might this be true? Part of the answer may have to do with the effect that beauty has on the psyche. A pair of studies, one in 2011 and another in 2014, found that the more attractive people rated themselves as being, the less egalitarian they were in their outlook and the less they favored income redistribution. But it also appears that voters on the right tend to identify attractiveness with conservative views, and, when there’s little other information to go on, beauty plays a bigger role in their voting choices than it does for liberals.



Liberal’s Entropy


The big story is not that leftist professors successfully turn millions of young people into dangerous political radicals every year. It is that they have gotten students so obsessed with their personal identities that, by the time they graduate, they have much less interest in, and even less engagement with, the wider political world outside their heads.

There is a great irony in this. The supposedly bland, conventional universities of the 1950s and early ’60s incubated the most radical generation of American citizens perhaps since our founding. Young people were incensed by the denial of voting rights out there, the Vietnam War out there, nuclear proliferation out there, capitalism out there, colonialism out there. Yet once that generation took power in the universities, it proceeded to depoliticize the liberal elite, rendering its members unprepared to think about the common good and what must be done practically to secure it—especially the hard and unglamorous task of persuading people very different from themselves to join a common effort.

Every advance of liberal identity consciousness has marked a retreat of liberal political consciousness. There can be no liberal politics without a sense of We—of what we are as citizens and what we owe each other. If liberals hope ever to recapture America’s imagination and become a dominant force across the country, it will not be enough to beat the Republicans at flattering the vanity of the mythical Joe Sixpack. They must offer a vision of our common destiny based on one thing that all Americans, of every background, share.

And that is citizenship. We must relearn how to speak to citizens as citizens and to frame our appeals for solidarity—including ones to benefit particular groups—in terms of principles that everyone can affirm.

Mark Lilla – excerpted from WSJ 8/12-13/17

What Does “American” Mean

What does it mean to be an “American” … “we the people” ?We the People

Were the indigenous tribes of North America Americans (they were, after all, here before any white and to this day are members of other, first nations, that the US Government suppressed through violence)?

Were the Pilgrims Americans (they were, after all, subjects of the English King)?

Were the imported African slaves Americans (they were, after all, brought here and kept here against their will)?

Were the waves of northern and later southern European immigrants, who came here for reasons of economic opportunity from the 1830s to the 1930s Americans (they were typically, after all, not English speakers, with limited employment skills other than manual labor)?

Were the Irish Catholics Americans (they were, after all, followers of (then) alien religion of questionable dual loyalties to the Pope and this nation, fleeing famine more than pursuing US citizenship)?

Were the the European Jews who fled religious oppression across Europe from the 1920s to the 1950s Americans (they  were, after all, arguably coming to the US out of fear for their lives more than a desire to be Americans)?

Were the Central and South American guest workers who came to this country to support the post-WWII industrial agriculture boom Americans (they were, after all, coming at the invitation of US agribusiness interests, with the overt or implicit consent of US boarder officials, and later at the invitation of construction, lawn care, and light manufacturing industries)?

Is the Iraqi war refuge an American (many of which, after all, fear for their lives because they worked for US Coalition forces in the long Iraq war and were promised protection, only to have the US exit the country, leaving a power vacuum for pro-Iranian Shiite warlords to take over and persecute anyone who cooperated with Americans)?

The Voter Study Group’s recent study sheds light on current American (note the circularity) beliefs about American-ness.

  • Respect for American political institutions and laws
  • Have US citizenship
  • Accept diverse racial and religious backgrounds
  • Speak English

Are the four attributes of American-ness shared across the political spectrum.

Arguably, this a good basis for defining citizenship.  Respect for political institutions and laws and speaking English are the minimum conditions of individuals binding themselves to group norms (we have to suppress our personal and subgroup interests for those of the nation).  We circumscribe that larger group identity with the bright line of citizenship (Canadians and guest workers are not Americans). But then we leave the door opening to joining the group of American citizens by honoring racial and religious diversity (see chart, below).

The next group of defining attributes shows the difference among Americans and defining the width of the door for admitting new members.  (Current) Americans are mixed on how important (a) being born here, (b) living here most of your life, and (c) being a Christian is.  Debates about European heritage as  prerequisite to American-ness are mostly in the rearview mirror of our national debate.

Voter Study Group Importance of Being American

One question, not asked in our “me-centered society” and this survey, is to what degree some form of national or community service is a fundamental attribute of American-ness.

“57 percent of Americans favor requiring every American between the ages of 18 and 25 to serve one year in public or community service in exchange for educational benefits and other support. However, the poll finds that 18-29 year olds are opposed to mandatory service by a margin of 50 to 48 percent.”  – Bi-Partisan Policy Group.  2013 Survey.

It’s Bigger and Better (Gerrymandering) in Texas…

Lawrence Wright’s July 10, 2017 New Yorker article, “The Future of Texas,” has a good description of the effectives of systematic gerrymandering.

This excerpt describes the efforts of Tom Craddick, the ultraconservative, Midland, TX Republican Speaker of the Texas Legislature, after January 2003, when the Republicans took over the legislative majority. The “cracking” of Austin’s democratic voting blocks is a classic strategy.

As this excerpt concludes, “Texas become a model for how to get control.”

New Yorker - Texas - 2017-07-10a