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Politics Political scientists Marc Hetherington and Jonathan Weiler, both professors at the University of North Carolina, have again examined the fractured minds of Americans in their latest book, Prius or Pickup?
So, the first thing I noticed in their new work was how they have developed an insightful new vocabulary. When I contacted Jon Weiler, he was pleased to respond to my questions about his latest work. That has only become truer since.
Beyond our work, study after study shows how much these four questions explain the way people understand politics. That matters because what is now at the heart of the partisan divide is something so visceral and core to who we are that it makes it difficult to view political disagreements only as political disagreements.
Instead, we view them in much darker, more condemnatory, more moral terms. It makes finding middle ground difficult. But that the very notion of compromise is becoming anathema is a problem.
In our previous book, we used the terms authoritarian and non-authoritarian, which has been standard in the social sciences for decades.
We were always uneasy about those terms. The term was getting in the way of the research. Fixed was meant to connote people who want to keep old norms and traditions fixed in place.
Fluid was meant to connote people who are more open to changing them. Those who answer the parenting questions in that direction are not outliers. In fact, their opinions are more like the mixed than the fluids are compared to the mixed on some of the most contentious issues of the day.
At page of your book, you state: The focus of political psychology has been on authoritarianism. Continuing with pageyou note: We wanted to say there that, when the term first emerged, it was to explain the rise of fascism and the devastation it had wrought. Of course, many Americans are terrified that we are, indeed, headed in that direction.
But whatever one thinks about what is happening, we are not close to a totalitarian society a la Nazi Germany. As you know, I have written about authoritarianism in the conservative movement which I find worrisome because I spent many years with this tribe, watching them become more radical and more aggressive.
We do, however, catalogue a number of very troubling things that have occurred during the Trump presidency. I am fearful, too. His party has been losing special elections consistently since and may lose the House in a month.
And despite all of his handwringing, a major federal probe—the Mueller probe—continues to proceed against him and many of his associates. I am not suggesting that this is predictive of anything. Also, I am curious how much you relied on material in your prior book in writing Prius or Pickup?
Yes, the original book was meant for an academic audience, replete with regression tables and the like. And absolutely, the new book is meant for a much broader audience. While we, of course, rely on some of the basic concepts, the material and approach in Prius or Pickup is new.
For example, the first book focused entirely on politics. But we demonstrate in this book that much of the passion about politics derives from the fact that the left and the right make such different decisions in their personal life—where to live, whether to worship, what to eat, etc.
People really care about these things—not politics—and they send messages every day that people in the other party are just not like them.
What concerns you most about the current divide in American politics?tions and addressing important research questions, case study research neverthe-less has not achieved widespread recognition as a method of choice.
Some people collection and analysis procedures, and case study findings can be generalized to other situations through analytic (not statistical) generalization. Learn by doing. It’s an old lesson, tried and true. The grammar and writing questions included in these pages are designed to provide you with lots of.
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