Has politics become so divisive that a new intolerance keeps left and right from connecting emotionally?

Research purports to show that left and right are that different, according to this post at NPR titled For Democrats And Republicans, It’s Happily (N)ever After:

Political preferences seem to come packaged with a whole set of other kinds of tastes, with liberals and conservatives having separate preferences when it comes to things such as humor, food and even whether they want poetry to rhyme, according to John Hibbing, coauthor of the forthcoming book Predisposed: Liberals, Conservatives and the Biology of Political Difference.

Hatemi, the Penn State political scientist, has written a forthcoming study that indicates political inclinations are deeply rooted — all the way down to the sensory level. Politically like-minded people tend to share preferences in taste, sense of smell and what their eyes are drawn to.

Ah, but what about political changers like me? How do you explain us? I’m not sure why, but just the way I look seems to make people assume my politics are at least somewhat to the left, and if and when I reveal the situation to be otherwise they tend to express shock.

Perhaps it’s due to retaining that liberal odor? I mean that quite literally:

How deep does it run? Make conservatives and liberals wash with the same shampoos and soaps, and like-minded people can still sniff them out. “Liberals found the body odor of liberals more attractive,” Hatemi says. “Conservatives found the body odor of conservatives more attractive.”

The article also discusses the fact that most couples are uni-political. That does seem to be the case, at least in my small circle of acquaintances.

And here’s a finding that shows how much more divisive the country’s politics have become in the last half-century:

A recent Stanford University study that people are more likely to have hostile feelings toward people of the other party than members of another race. The who say they would disapprove of their children marrying someone from the other party has shot up from 5 percent in 1960 to 40 percent in 2010.

You see that politics has become, among other things, the new religion. Very few people these days would object to racial intermarriage and probably the same is true of religious intermarriage. We are now “tolerant” of diversity in those things. But politics has a lot more emotional valence now, and for more and more people it’s those on the other side of that divide who have become the enemy.

[Neo-neocon is a writer with degrees in law and family therapy, who blogs at neo-neocon.]


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