November 20, 2010

A Madison liberal struggles to understand the 2010 elections and runs to the classic liberal explanation: The people are stupid.

Bill Lueders's Isthmus article is subtitled "The Triumph of Stupidity." He asks UW-Madison political science professor Charles Franklin how people could vote the way they did, and when Franklin answers "They're pretty damn stupid," he says "Thank you, professor... That's the answer I was looking for."
Frankly, it's an answer embraced by many people I know. One of my Isthmus colleagues sent me a study showing that Dane County, which bucked the trends on Election Day, is by far the most educated county in the state. "When conservatives cut support for education," she mused, "they do so to keep people dumb and their own interests in power."
Welcome to my world: Dane County, Wisconsin, home of people who tell themselves they are the smart people and those who disagree with them must certainly be dumb. They don't go through the exercise of putting themselves in the place of someone who thinks differently from the way they do. But how would it feel to be intelligent, informed, and well-meaning and to think what conservatives think? Isn't that the right way for an intelligent, informed, and well-meaning person to understand other people? If you short circuit that process and go right to the assumption that people who don't agree with you are stupid, how do you maintain the belief that you are, in fact, intelligent, informed, and well-meaning?

What is liberal about this attitude toward other people? You wallow in self-love, and what is it you love yourself for? For wanting to shower benefits on people... that you have nothing but contempt for.

IN THE COMMENTS: Prof. Franklin responds. I front-page his comment here.

257 comments:

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Fen said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Fen said...

Libtard: I have no problem with progressives finding ways to block conservatives from benefiting. That's what cons do to the left, in any event.

This is where the Brownshirts get dangerous. They justify their bad actions by *pretending* conservatives do it. Which means their liberal facism is only limited by what they can accuse the other side of doing.

Ergo, when the Brownshirts start accusing you of shooting people down in the streets, its time to check your ammo. They intend violence.

[And Nina, the sock-puppet I'm quoting is on his 3rd incarnation]

Deb said...

This post is brilliant. It sums up the liberal mindset perfectly.

JAY said...


An amazing percentage of this country thinks Obama is 1. a communist 2. has a plan to convert the country to socialism


1. He clearly has fascist tendencies.

2. He does. His record demonstrates it.

JAY said...

Anyway, labels are divisive

Ah, another one of these "moderates" who just happen to favor more government at every turn, the "fair share" (high) taxation model, and don't want to call themselves liberal because so few others do.

Yawn.

master cylinder said...

Hey Nina-I'm a chick, btw, and you just got a demo of what I was talking about.

Pogo said...

Nina, I hope you comment more frequently.

Both sides think the other is wrong. Open discussion has always been the MO around here.

Lefty trolls like Alex, who insulted you, are here to disable discussion.

Our world-views differ enormously, but that has been true in America from the beginning. The difference now, I think, is that we are experiencing the end of the socialist empire in the US.

Whether that means the end of the nation or a rebirth is uncertain. But massive uncertainty breeds animus, as you have seen.

I for one am frightened, for me and my children. I expect you are too, but for perhaps different reasons.

Porkopolis said...

This TED presentation provides a lot of food for thought: Jonathan Haidt on the moral roots of liberals and conservatives

Darcy said...

The comments from Nina remind me of a good friend I have. He's such a lovely guy. So thoughtful and so very bright.
I admire him so much.

He's a progressive. He not only talks proggy, but is out there in the soup kitchens and and actually works to help poor people from being evicted. Walking the walk, in his heart.

We differ so much in our political views that at times it distresses me. But we mostly gently try to persuade each other. There are so many layers of mistrust of the opposite view in the different ideologies. It's a very delicate undertaking in recent times. Exhausting, and sometimes leaving me feeling hopeless.

We are friends. If we weren't, I'm sure it would be a lot harder to communicate so civilly about the topics we discuss. And I'll admit that he'd be better at it, in that case. But not because he's a liberal! I just have an Irish temper. ;-)

We both still believe the other is well-intentioned but so very, very, (and often dangerously) wrong.

Long, long story short: I think Althouse regularly lays out the different issues in a neutral way and challenges both sides. There are fascinating discussions here that have certainly changed my mind at times. It has been worth wading through the bickering for me.

Charles Franklin said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Charles Franklin said...

Sigh. Bill's Lueder's quote is exactly accurate. I said exactly what he says I said. Normally I would just let it go at that since once such a quote is out it will spread no matter what. The only complaint I have is that Lueder's subsequent conclusions from that quote are his own and not mine.

The context was the Senate race and the point I was making, which I've made numerous times before, was that voters embraced Ron Johnson before they knew much about him. In a June 26-27 poll by Public Policy Polling, Johnson trailed Feingold by just 2 points, yet in the poll 62% said they had neither a favorable nor an unfavorable opinion of Johnson. I've used that poll frequently to illustrate the fact that voters were ready to embrace a Republican they knew almost nothing about over a three term incumbent Democrat. The race wasn't about specific details of Johnson vs Feingold, it was a rejection of Democrats more or less regardless of what voters knew about the GOP candidate.

That was the context in which I said voters are "pretty damn stupid". Too hyperbolic indeed, but I said it and have no complaint that it was quoted when I knew I was speaking to journalists.

But I wish what I said next had also been quoted. I went on to say that despite not knowing the details of Johnson's policy positions, the voters did NOT make a mistake in choosing Johnson as the more conservative candidate and certain to be more favorable to cutting government. That was indeed the correct connection by an angry electorate, even if the details were quite vague.

Voter's often act on little information and can be astonishingly unaware of things one might consider "facts". A post-election Pew poll finds less than half (46%) know the GOP won only the House but not the Senate. And at times voters appear to vote for candidates who are likely to take positions at odds with the voter's interests.

But in the Johnson-Feingold race, I think despite lack of details about Johnson, a majority of Wisconsin voter's picked the guy they wanted, and for basically the right reason. Dems may be astonished at the rejection of a favorite son, but in making this choice I think voter's properly expressed their preferences and matched them to the right candidate.

So I wish I had phrased this differently but that's my bad, no one else's. But I do not agree with the conclusion that voter's were "stupid" to pick Johnson over Feingold. In fact I believe a majority got the Senator they wanted, and that is always good for a republic.

Ann Althouse said...

Hi, Charles. Thanks for coming by. I am front-paging your comment here.

JAY said...

was that voters embraced Ron Johnson before they knew much about him.

The voters did the same with Obama.

In fact, there was a deliberate attempt by the media to keep voters from knowing who Obama really was/is.

Did you write about that in 2008?

Paul Zrimsek said...

I've used that poll frequently to illustrate the fact that voters were ready to embrace a Republican they knew almost nothing about over a three term incumbent Democrat. The race wasn't about specific details of Johnson vs Feingold, it was a rejection of Democrats more or less regardless of what voters knew about the GOP candidate.

Even leaving aside the possibility that the voters learned more about Johnson in the four months between the poll and the election, the strongest conclusion you can draw is that the vote was more a rejection of Feingold than an endorsement of Johnson-- it tells you nothing about whether they rejected Feingold merely for being a Democrat or whether he'd done something specific to piss them off. For all we know, it may have taken the voter three whole terms to realize how liberal Feingold is-- they being so stupid and all.

And at times voters appear to vote for candidates who are likely to take positions at odds with the voter's interests.

And this is just the sort of thing that makes people suspect you guys of arrogance. The buried premise that people ought to vote their own self-interest isn't exactly unassailable either.

DADvocate said...

While Franklin may not be guilty of this, indeed Lueder may be the guilty one, the attitude portrays, once again, the narcissism of liberalism.

Narcissists are generally contemptuous of others. This seems to spring, at base, from their general lack of empathy, and it comes out as (at best) a dismissive attitude towards other people's feelings, wishes, needs, concerns, standards, property, work, etc. ...

narcissists will say ANYTHING, they will trash anyone in their own self-justification, and then they will expect the immediate restoration of the status quo.

Source

Ralph L said...

but in making this choice I think voter's properly expressed their preferences and matched them to the right candidate.
Not stupid. They might have been ignorant or uninformed, but what else is new?

PatCA said...

The problem with debating in blog comments is that it's not really a debate: there are no ground rules or agreed upon sets of facts, there are hundreds of debaters or trolls who come in and out of the discussion. It's a free for all. Sometimes you can zing a point home, but then what? Does anybody change their mind?

True debate is much better done via some platform like bloggingheads, or in a university setting.

Martin said...

Didn't Michael Savage have a book a few years back, "Liberalism is a Mental Disorder"?

Every couple of years we see another shoddy academic paper about how conservatives are ignorant, unintelligent, or morally depraved.

btb, Professor, you forgot to mention that the benefits they want to shower on people they hold in contempt are paid for by those contemptible people, it's not like the liberals are giving theor own money to pay for it (cf, Geithner and other liberal tax cheats, and "Who Really Cares" by Arthur C. Brooks)

jvermeer51 said...

Anne wrote, if you "go right to the assumption that people who don't agree with you are stupid, how do you maintain the belief that you are, in fact, intelligent, informed, and well-meaning?"
How? This is how.
I volunteer at a community college. One day the department head and another teacher had a five minute conversation about what wonderful IQs Presidential candidates who think like they do had e.g. Carter and Kerry. They mixed in what low IQs candidates who didn't think like they do had, e.g. Bush. Per their military intelligence tests, Bush and Kerry had about the same IQs. But to liberals that was really irrelevant. What mattered was a chance to spend five minutes telling each other how wonderful they all were. As Thomas Sowell subtitled one of his books, "Self-congratulations as the basis for social [really any] policy."

SGT Ted said...

"California didn't want dilettantes to govern it or represent it in the Senate. Just because conservatives think that becoming CEO qualifies one to do anything doesnt make it true"

Quit smoking the California Grass.

Jerry Brown is the Left Coasts own Tedddy Kennedy; dilettant Democrat Scion pothead who has sucked the Government teat from birth.

Boxer is the second stupidest woman in the Senate, right behind Patty Murray from WA. Another set of elected leftwing dilettants, who got where they got by saying all the PC platitudes that passes for thinking amongst the self-proclaimed "intellectuals".

SGT Ted said...

"And at times voters appear to vote for candidates who are likely to take positions at odds with the voter's interests."

This is usually left-speak to describe low income people who consider themselves self-reliant that don't vote for more Government hand-outs, nor vote for politicians who promise the same.

damitajo1 said...

Voters are absolutely STUPID. I am not talking about diehard conservatives or liberals; they at least operate on principle. But the crazy "moderates" who can vote for Obama, Bush, Kerry, Clinton, Palin, Gore.....There is no consistency. There voting patterns are STUPID.

damitajo1 said...

Voters are absolutely STUPID. I am not talking about diehard conservatives or liberals; they at least operate on principle. But the crazy "moderates" who can vote for Obama, Bush, Kerry, Clinton, Palin, Gore.....There is no consistency. There voting patterns are STUPID.

roesch-voltaire said...

Nina, your are inspirational! And I agree about labels; they make it easy for us to think we have explain the complicated.

Ann Althouse said...

nina said... "I do not comment here (for the most part) because 90% of your commenters are on one side of the issue."

You've invented a statistic that in reality expresses where you find yourself and perceive people on either side of you. Me, I don't even believe that there are merely 2 "sides." There are many dimensions of opinion, such as people who think opinion is 2-sided and people who do not. People who think the previous sentence is a fascinating paradox and people who find it annoying.

"Those who present a different position are ridiculed and slandered for their professed idea, even if it is offered without aggression or insult."

All the positions expressed are subject to ridicule or to respectful debate. What happens happens. One thing I like to ridicule is the way some people think they are being respectful when in fact their contempt is palpable. I point out things I see, and often what I see is phony politeness or a smothering pretense of civility that really is a nonnegotiable demand for agreement. To that I say no: Freedom of expression is a wild place. It won't be tamed. You can come into the wilderness or stay cozy in a safe, artificially warmed place. A lot of people choose to come here. If liberals shrink from this place, I tend to think that's because they like agreement too much, they are too sensitive about wanting confirmation that they are the good people, and their ideas are vulnerable to arguments they don't want to have to deal with.

"It's not a place to go to for a back and forth."

You're wrong. There. That's some back and forth.

"And that's okay. I understand the need to have a place where like minded people find solidarity and support."

I'm sure you do. Lucky you to live in Madison, Wisconsin. Me, I've created this forum because I like to talk about all sorts of things from all different directions. For me, Madison is a gooey swamp of liberal self-love. I need something tart to cut through the cloyingness.

"But it's not okay for those who may want to say something outside of the Althouse mainstream."

Oh, bullshit. There is no "Althouse mainstream." You can say whatever you want.

Denver said...

Yes Ann, you don't feed your Althouse Hillbillies a daily helping of right wing red meat so that they will stay on your porch. And it is beyond me why no sane liberal would not want to get entangled by these well tempered fellows.

Ann Althouse said...

Denver, are you insane?

Darcy said...

@Denver

No. You are apparently personally obsessed with Althouse and Meade.

That makes you creepy. Very.

Ann Althouse said...

Denver, raise your game or I'll be deleting you. No more talking about Meade. Speak to the issues or you're out of here.

Trooper York said...

Could nina and Denver be the same person?

Trooper York said...

Wow this is really getting personal here in the bowels of the comments on a Sunday morning.

Let me ask you this question. It really isn't any of our business what Meadehouse does. I mean sure mock them but don't take it personal for crying out loud.

And as far as nina's comments are concerned she is really off base. I mean there are plenty of liberals who are widely respected and not attacked for their opinions. MadisonMan, Beth and even former law student are generally listened to without any rancor. Garage and Ritmo like to mix it up so it gets a little fiesty. But when people are out of bounds and attack someone like Garage other commenters like Hoosier Daddy and traditionalguy and even me will defend him.

The thing is that you are listened to in direct realtion to how interesting you are. And nina baby.... hate to tell you...your garden variety whining liberal crapola is just not very interesting.....just sayn'

Oh and nothing personal kid.
All the best,
Your friend Trooper.

Trooper York said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Trooper York said...

It's sad when friends fall out. That often happens when somebody changes teams you know what I mean.

I know I am not friends with this ex-buddy of mine because he became a Jets fan all of a sudden. The bastard.

Trooper York said...

You know a lot of your so called friends get mad when you get married and you are happy. It is just a fact of life. They liked you better when you were alone and miserable. Like them. Just sayn'

Jay Retread said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Trooper York said...

Dude, you need to watch your sugar intake.

Why don't you go over and read the comments at boringheads. That will calm you down and help you sleep. I promise.

Bob from outside of Detroit said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Trooper York said...

Bob that was uncalled for. I hope the professor deletes that. Not nice pal.

Ann Althouse said...

Bob and Jay are, I presume, Mobys.

Bob from outside of Detroit said...

Wrong Trooper. Once you have crossed the Professor she is done with you.

Trooper York said...

Well that kind of only matters Bob if you are hung up on other peoples approval. I mean the blogger lady and I have had our differances but we've managed to come to a reasonable detente.

Plus I have a project coming up where she is going to slap me around pretty good so I want to get my licks in now.

Trooper York said...

Well you see Alex, nonwithstanding nina's comments, this is what happens when the liberals show up.

Jay is used to the witty banter and bon mots over at the Huffington Post and Kos.

What can you do? It's still mostly a free country.

Trooper York said...

Alternate meaning.....getting boned by that REM guy. You know the real skinny one.

Trooper York said...

Also known as losing your religion.

Trooper York said...

Is that you Robert Cook?

Trooper York said...

You gotta lay off the meth dude.

Trooper York said...

You know I used to know this guy who worked as a makeup artist in a furneral parlor. He had some stories let me tell you.

Trooper York said...

Maybe you should look into that as a career Jay. Just sayn'

furious_a said...

Speaking of "bankrupt California"...

...What is the difference between the
residents of California and the
passengers on the Titanic?

...
...

The passengers on the Titanic didn't
vote to hit the Iceberg.

pumping-irony said...

The voters' choices make sense if you interpret the results as "Anybody but Feingold the Democrat." The voters cannot answer a question with other than the answers a poll presents them with. If someone were to ask them essay questions rather than multiple choice, the results would have been quite different, I am sure.

orbicularioculi said...

Charles Franklin says,"...A post-election Pew poll finds less than half (46%) know the GOP won only the House but not the Senate..."

I'd like to assure Dr. Franklin that the overwhelming majority of Republicans know the FACTS of this election. And Conservative Republicans and members of Tea Party organizations across the country know details of many elections not including their states.

Individuals who vote Democrat are the least informed group of individuals in the country. For some reason liberals can't make time to study issues.

former law student said...

Barbara Boxer has been in political office since 1977. Jerry Brown served two terms as Governor before running this time. These people are not dilettantes -- amateurs who are bored and casting about for something else to do.

Would you hire a career politician to run a business? It worked with Dick Cheney.

Alex said...

FLS - career politicians like Boxer and Brown have run CA into the ground.

Luther said...

"There is not a single aspect of life the left does not wish to regulate.

Not one."

Here's three.

Sex, Drugs, and Rock and Roll.

Robert Cook said...

"'There is not a single aspect of life the left does not wish to regulate.

Not one.

Here's three.

Sex, Drugs, and Rock and Roll."


WRONG! We DO want to regulate them! We want to pass legislation requiring MORE Sex! MORE Drugs! MORE Rock and roll! (And a little more tea and cookies, too.)

Luther said...

Robert,

Your hyperbole highlights the shallowness of your position.

Choose another subject.

emon sristy said...

First, the last name did not start with the letter M as in Moon. I want to make sure that is crystal clear to these people, and that is being polite. South Beach

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