As it turns out, our sons and our daughters are not beyond our command: Yesterday, Kevin Drum ran an intriguing post about a possible trend.
At one time, people said they wouldn’t want their children to marry someone of some other race. Or of some other religion! So vile!
Today, the terms of blanket rejection have changed. Drum quoted Claude Fischer discussing a recent survey:
FISCHER (9/24/12): From the late 1970s through the late 2000s, Americans rated their own political party pretty consistently, at about an average of 70 on the scale. However, Americans rated the other party increasingly coolly, from about a 47 average four decades ago down to about a 35 average these days. This trend portrays a growing animosity toward the other side. Notably, the gulf in party temperatures is now wider than that between whites and blacks and that between Catholics and Protestants.If that survey is reasonably accurate, 30 percent of Democrats said they would be upset if their child married a Republican. Among Republicans, the rejection rate for inter-marriage stood at 50 percent.
A pair of surveys asked Americans a more concrete question: in 1960, whether they would be “displeased” if their child married someone outside their political party, and, in 2010, would be “upset” if their child married someone of the other party. In 1960, about 5 percent of Americans expressed a negative reaction to party intermarriage; in 2010, about 40 percent did (Republicans about 50 percent, Democrats about 30 percent).
If accurate, that’s somewhat interesting. More interesting are the comments to Dum’s post. To wit:
People love to think tribally, typologically. Many commenters seemed to think that they were debating a different question: Would they be upset if their child married every Republican? Or the most repellent Republican?
They seemed to picture their children marrying the Ideal Form of Republicans. Plato of course was rather dumb. We haven’t advanced very far.
Would you be upset if your child married a Republican? We would think it might depend on who the Republican was! For many commenters, no such nuance could be imagined. In their minds, every one of “those people” is apparently just like every other, thus just like the very worst one.
In comments, the venting was extreme. It helped display an important aspect of the modern political world:
When we liberals emerged from the woods, it turned out we weren’t quite as smart as we’d always said we were. On average.