Thursday, October 7, 2021

Ben Shapiro: What if 'Polarization' Isn't the Big Problem?

 This week, the University of Virginia Center for Politics released a poll surveying Americans' feelings about their political opponents. According to the poll, 80% of Biden voters and 84% of Trump voters believed that elected officials of the opposite party present a "clear and present danger to American democracy"; 78% of Biden voters believed that the Republican Party wanted to eliminate the influence of "progressive values" in American life, while 87% of Trump voters believed that the Democrats wanted to eliminate "traditional values"; 75% of Biden voters and 78% of Trump voters believed that the opposing party's supporters were a "clear and present danger to the American way of life." 

    These statistics are, of course, alarming. The popular theory these days is that willingness by both Democrats and Republicans to abandon democratic norms -- election result acceptance, checks and balances, due process of law and all the rest -- is purely the result of reactionary dislike. If you fear your neighbor is going to abuse the process, you'd be a fool to stick to the process -- and the more we dislike our neighbors, the more we fear that they'll take advantage of us.

    But is this theory correct? Is polarization actually the reason for increased willingness to ditch democratic norms? 

    According to a new study from political scientists David Broockman of the University of California, Berkeley, Joshua Kalla of Yale and Sean Westwood of Dartmouth, the answer is no. They write, "We find no evidence that an exogenous decrease in affective polarization causes a downstream decrease in opposition to democratic norms." In other words, Americans hating each other less does nearly nothing to reduce Americans' willingness to override democratic norms in order to achieve their goals. 

    If polarization isn't driving the undermining of norms, what is? Perhaps the answer is that the reverse is actually occurring: As we've abandoned democratic norms, we've come to despise our neighbors.

    This makes a certain amount of logical and correlative sense. The Founding Fathers had a particular vision of human nature, believing human beings were capable of great things but were also rife with sin and corruption. Given the variability of human nature, epistemic humility -- a recognition that human beings are often wrong -- would be necessary. And that epistemic humility would translate into a desire for liberty. High-level government, in this view, would be hamstrung from cramming down a unitary form of virtue on a pluralistic society, at least; subsidiarity, in which local communities governed themselves while the federal government maintained certain basic norms, would be the proper approach. The federal government would be pitted against itself through checks and balances, creating obstacles that would necessitate broad agreement about use of power to legitimize such use of power.

    Today, however, most Americans seem to instinctively recoil from this vision of human nature and its concomitant governmental approach. Instead, human beings are held to be entirely malleable creatures of circumstance who can be molded by a better system into their highest selves. Grant the "right person" with the "right principles" unending power, democratically or not, and watch virtue spring forth. The government isn't the problem, it's the solution.

    The problem with this, of course, is that we all have different ideas of the right person and the right principles. And once we have agreed that the government (SET ITAL) ought (END ITAL) to have the ability to fix all our problems, anyone who stands in our way becomes a heretic. By abandoning the Founders' accurate characterization of human nature and the governmental structure embodied in the Constitution, we set ourselves up for polarization and rage.

    Perhaps the first step toward fixing our newfound dislike for democratic norms is to re-inculcate not love of neighbor, but understanding of human flaws, human foibles and the limits of human understanding. Perhaps we ought to start with some epistemic humility. From that source, perhaps a renewal of democratic norms (SET ITAL) and (END ITAL) an embrace of our neighbors might spring. 

    Ben Shapiro, 37, is a graduate of UCLA and Harvard Law School, host of "The Ben Shapiro Show," and editor-in-chief of He is the author of the New York Times bestsellers "How To Destroy America In Three Easy Steps," "The Right Side Of History," and "Bullies." To find out more about Ben Shapiro and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at



Anonymous said...

Pseudo-intellectual gibberish.

Anonymous said...

For the last 30 years political election campaigns have been programming their audience with the message that the other side is evil, and their enemy. I blame the "must win at all costs" ethic (or lack thereof) for "polarization."

If we can take most of the money out of political elections, I think much of this will self-correct.

Anonymous said...

The media completed their main mission not long after the coverage of the gulf war. That is where the war chests (billions) were created. Since then it has been nothing but a show. Literally. Truth be told, I believe certain network heads got together with Trump and convinced him to run. Look what has happened since. Seriously, how else was Hillary kept away from the big chair ? Had to be the media moguls. Sure as hell wasn't Nancy or Chuck. Listen to Hannity real close ....he's a broken record reading from a script and when he gets off script ...... Tucker maintains the balance and may not even be in on the scam.Reality is that only a worldwide disaster can save us from what is coming.

Anonymous said...

@4:08 and, therefore, yours is a pseudo-intellectual comment?

Krusatyr said...

30 yrs? In 1961 (60 yrs ago) my Texas Catholic grammar school prayed every day that God would destroy Communism. Now we have it in Congress. In fact, we have a marxist/statist pope in the Vatican!

My neighbors on both sides and in back are democrats and I have zero empathy for them or their socialist agenda.

Anonymous said...

@4:57 ... That makes no sense whatsoever.

Anonymous said...

Who wants to bet that "Krusatyr" identifies proudly as a Christian conservative and yet proudly proclaims, against the core teaching of the Gospel, that he has "zero empathy" for his neighbors?

Anonymous said...


Apparently you didn't learn reading comprehension in your Texas Catholic grammar school. Not surprising, as it seems like all you did was pray.

Try reading 4:30's comment again and respond appropriately (if you can). The "All Democrats are socialist communists!" is really getting old.

Krusatyr said...

I have a Christian and Conservative American duty not to consort with evil, whether next door, across town or around the world.

Anonymous said...

Each party is operating in a conscienceless crusade to further the interests of the least deserving of their constituencies while pushing aside the needs of the most deserving/least demanding of their constituencies.

anonamouse said...

6:43, if you support the Democratic party you support
socialists/communists, as that is the platform of the Democratic party.

Anonymous said...

Krusatyr’s neighbors disagree with him. Therefore they are evil.

Krusatyr is privy to a special Gospel that says “Love thy neighbor as thyself, unless they vote for a Democrat.”

Some people are not happy unless they’re miserable.

Anonymous said...

The real problem is that people with a broad spectrum of political beliefs ranging from far left to far right, with most lumped towards the middle, find themselves expecting representation from just two inadequate political parties. Inadequate because they are hamstrung by a primary selection process dominated by the fringe elements of their parties. The people end up absolutely frustrated because they end up supporting the lesser of two evils rather than the better man or woman. Yes, the other side is evil, but so are you. That's the problem.

Anonymous said...

And 7:47 is holier than thou.

Krusatyr said...

Some of the rapes and robberies and murders one reads about have at their core a victim who made a bad choice to "consort" with an evil person or group, perhaps for selfish reasons.

If a person or organization demonstrates their willingness to rape, rob and kill, as Democrats have a proclivity to do, one ought trust their instincts for self preservation and avoid them.

Seems simple enough until one of the seven deadly sins prompts one to take a chance on the dark side.

Anonymous said...

How can a Mississippian complain about socialism when they are one of the biggest recipients of federal dollars to the tune of $2.88 for every $1, they contribute . Put your money where mouth is and send it back,I am sure the Californians and New Yorkers would love to have it back.

Anonymous said...

6:43 said of 4:59: "All Democrats are socialist communists!"

He didn't say that they were 'communists'...yet. He said he had zero empathy for them or their 'socialist agenda'.

(6:43 Try reading 4:59's comment again and respond appropriately (if you can).

Anonymous said...

@8:06PM -- I agree. Everyone is expected to fall into one of two parties, and other potential parties are tolerated at a distance (Libertarian) or targeted for destruction (Tea Party).

Further, no one who qualifies for, and should have the political position, wants it. They don't want to put their private lives in public view, the harassment, the opposition's outright lies intended to denigrate, and the pressure to "play the game" once in office.

Term limits and stringent campaign reform would go a long way in righting the ship.

Anonymous said...

The polarization (and extremism that follows) is the result of a districting system that creates the maximum number of "safe" districts for both parties with the occasional "toss up" district.

Candidates in safe districts are incentivized to adopt the most extreme positions of their parties lest they be "primaried" by a more extreme candidate.

This was all kicked off 60 years ago in response to voter suppression, but today's polarization is the result of crude legislative and judicial solutions to a societal evil from the last century (and before).

Anonymous said...


No need. I have the amazing ability of inference. It's based on evidence and reasoning, which is severely lacking for some hardcore conservatives.

4:30's comment was a well thought-out statement that applied to both parties equally. Krusatyr was triggered by this neutral comment and replies with "communism bad!", "the pope is a marxist!, and "my neighbors are democrats!".

See the difference?

Anonymous said...

That was six hundred and sixty five words to say absolutely nothing.
Ben Shapiro is a hack writer and an even hackier talking head.

Anonymous said...

We’ll said Shapiro…. There are too many nuts on here sometimes.

Anonymous said...

October 7, 2021 at 7:47 PM; nice try, but disagreeing with someone does not make them evil. i disagree with my wife, but that does not make either of us evil.

what makes someone evil, is thinking, encouraging, and trying to codify into law, that killing an unborn baby is somehow a right.

what makes someone evil, is thinking, and encouraging illegal aliens to flood our country without knowing or caring who they are, and purposefully resettling them in your political opponent's areas.

what makes someone evil, is thinking, advocating, and trying to codify into law that mentally ill boys and men can compete with women in sports, and use women's restrooms, changing rooms and locker rooms.

what makes someone evil, is thinking, advocating and promoting drag queens and other mentally ill, sexual deviants to read story books to children in libraries. if you haven't heard of the rainbow dildo monkey, then do a quick search on the internet. it shouldn't take even you very long to find that disgusting story.

what makes someone evil, is thinking, encouraging, and codifying into law, a child's ability to get an abortion without their parents consent or knowledge.

what makes someone evil, is thinking, promoting, advocating for, and codifying into law, a child's ability to mutilate their bodies because they think they might be the other gender.

what makes someone evil, is implementing and/or agreeing that it's ok to force millions of American citizens to get an unproven "vaccine" as a condition for working, while at the same time, the hundreds of thousands of illegal aliens flooding into our country are not being forced to get the "vaccine" and in most cases, not even being tested to see if they are sick.

what makes someone evil, is thinking, encouraging, supporting, and codifying into law the idea and practice that teaching en entire generation of kids, black, brown, and white, that you are a racist for no reason other than being born white; to view every interaction they have with anyone that's white through the lens of racism; to believe the greatest country on earth is a racist country.

what makes someone evil, is leaving behind possibly thousands of Americans in a hostile country, and leaving nearly 100 billion dollars worth of military equipment; ammo, guns, airplanes, helicopters, trucks, tanks, drones, surveillance equipment, and god only
knows what else, for a terrorist organization to now use against citizens of their own country, other countries around them, selling our technology to the highest bidder to reverse engineer and eventually use against us. pretending it's no big deal, and lie to the american people about the whole thing, then implementing a "vaccine "mandate to shift the media's attention away from the american citizens left to fend for themselves.

these are the things that make one evil. these are the planks of the democrat party platform. these are the things the democrats fight for, encourage, advocate for, support, and try to put into law. and as bad as these are, i know i've missed several.

disagreeing with someone does not make someone evil. believing, advocating for, supporting, and implementing the items i brought up, do make one evil. so, if you are a democrat, or vote democrat, then you support these things. you encourage these things. you promote these things. you like these things. and i know this, because if you didn't, then you wouldn't vote democrat. therefore, logic dictates, democrats are evil.

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Trollfest '09

Trollfest '07 was such a success that Jackson Jambalaya will once again host Trollfest '09. Catch this great event which will leave NE Jackson & Fondren in flames. Othor Cain and his band, The Black Power Structure headline the night while Sonjay Poontang returns for an encore performance. Former Frank Melton bodyguard Marcus Wright makes his premier appearance at Trollfest singing "I'm a Sweet Transvestite" from "The Rocky Horror Picture Show." Kamikaze will sing his new hit, “How I sold out to da Man.” Robbie Bell again performs: “Mamas, don't let your babies grow up to be Bells” and “Any friend of Ed Peters is a friend of mine”. After the show, Ms. Bell will autograph copies of her mug shot photos. In a salute to “Dancing with the Stars”, Ms. Bell and Hinds County District Attorney Robert Smith will dance the Wango Tango.

Wrestling returns, except this time it will be a Battle Royal with Othor Cain, Ben Allen, Kim Wade, Haley Fisackerly, Alan Lange, and “Big Cat” Donna Ladd all in the ring at the same time. The Battle Royal will be in a steel cage, no time limit, no referee, and the losers must leave town. Marshand Crisler will be the honorary referee (as it gives him a title without actually having to do anything).

Meet KIM Waaaaaade at the Entergy Tent. For five pesos, Kim will sell you a chance to win a deed to a crack house on Ridgeway Street stuffed in the Howard Industries pinata. Don't worry if the pinata is beaten to shreds, as Mr. Wade has Jose, Emmanuel, and Carlos, all illegal immigrants, available as replacements for the it. Upon leaving the Entergy tent, fig leaves will be available in case Entergy literally takes everything you have as part of its Trollfest ticket price adjustment charge.

Donna Ladd of The Jackson Free Press will give several classes on learning how to write. Smearing, writing without factchecking, and reporting only one side of a story will be covered. A donation to pay their taxes will be accepted and she will be signing copies of their former federal tax liens. Ms. Ladd will give a dramatic reading of her two award-winning essays (They received The Jackson Free Press "Best Of" awards.) "Why everything is always about me" and "Why I cover murders better than anyone else in Jackson".

In the spirit of helping those who are less fortunate, Trollfest '09 adopts a cause for which a portion of the proceeds and donations will be donated: Keeping Frank Melton in his home. The “Keep Frank Melton From Being Homeless” booth will sell chances for five dollars to pin the tail on the jackass. John Reeves has graciously volunteered to be the jackass for this honorable excursion into saving Frank's ass. What's an ass between two friends after all? If Mr. Reeves is unable to um, perform, Speaker Billy McCoy has also volunteered as when the word “jackass” was mentioned he immediately ran as fast as he could to sign up.

In order to help clean up the legal profession, Adam Kilgore of the Mississippi Bar will be giving away free, round-trip plane tickets to the North Pole where they keep their bar complaint forms (which are NOT available online). If you don't want to go to the North Pole, you can enjoy Brant Brantley's (of the Mississippi Commission on Judicial Performance) free guided tours of the quicksand field over by High Street where all complaints against judges disappear. If for some reason you are unable to control yourself, never fear; Judge Houston Patton will operate his jail where no lawyers are needed or allowed as you just sit there for minutes... hours.... months...years until he decides he is tired of you sitting in his jail. Do not think Judge Patton is a bad judge however as he plans to serve free Mad Dog 20/20 to all inmates.

Trollfest '09 is a pet-friendly event as well. Feel free to bring your dog with you and do not worry if your pet gets hungry, as employees of the Jackson Zoo will be on hand to provide some of their animals as food when it gets to be feeding time for your little loved one.

Relax at the Fox News Tent. Since there are only three blonde reporters in Jackson (being blonde is a requirement for working at Fox News), Megan and Kathryn from WAPT and Wendy from WLBT will be on loan to Fox. To gain admittance to the VIP section, bring either your Republican Party ID card or a Rebel Flag. Bringing both and a torn-up Obama yard sign will entitle you to free drinks served by Megan, Wendy, and Kathryn. Get your tickets now. Since this is an event for trolls, no ID is required. Just bring the hate. Bring the family, Trollfest '09 is for EVERYONE!!!

This is definitely a Beaver production.

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Jackson Jambalaya is the home of Trollfest '07. Catch this great event which promises to leave NE Jackson & Fondren in flames. Sonjay Poontang and his band headline the night with a special steel cage, no time limit "loser must leave town" bout between Alan Lange and "Big Cat"Donna Ladd following afterwards. Kamikaze will perform his new song F*** Bush, he's still a _____. Did I mention there was no referee? Dr. Heddy Matthias and Lori Gregory will face off in the undercard dueling with dangling participles and other um, devices. Robbie Bell will perform Her two latest songs: My Best Friends are in the Media and Mama's, Don't Let Your Babies Grow up to be George Bell. Sid Salter of The Clarion-Ledger will host "Pin the Tail on the Trial Lawyer", sponsored by State Farm.

There will be a hugging booth where in exchange for your young son, Frank Melton will give you a loooong hug. Trollfest will have a dunking booth where Muhammed the terrorist will curse you to Allah as you try to hit a target that will drop him into a vat of pig grease. However, in the true spirit of Separate But Equal, Don Imus and someone from NE Jackson will also sit in the dunking booth for an equal amount of time. Tom Head will give a reading for two hours on why he can't figure out who the hell he is. Cliff Cargill will give lessons with his .80 caliber desert eagle, using Frank Melton photos as targets. Tackleberry will be on hand for an autograph session. KIM Waaaaaade will be passing out free titles and deeds to crackhouses formerly owned by The Wood Street Players.

If you get tired come relax at the Fox News Tent. To gain admittance to the VIP section, bring either your Republican Party ID card or a Rebel Flag. Bringing both will entitle you to free drinks.Get your tickets now. Since this is an event for trolls, no ID is required, just bring the hate. Bring the family, Trollfest '07 is for EVERYONE!!!

This is definitely a Beaver production.

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