Thornton Holding Court.jpg

Thornton Hall

The Revolution Will Be Kuhnian.

The Advantage of Un-Objective Media

So one of the political science guys that gets a lot of attention is John Sides. He's at George Washington University and blogs, with a few other folks, at The Monkey Cage which recently got swallowed by the Washington Post.

Anyway, I was googling for information about racist beliefs and party identification and came across this posting: 

Are Racists Only in One Political Party?

The question came up because on MSNBC Chris Hayes said,

It is undeniably the case that racist Americans are almost entirely in one political coalition and not the other.[1]

The conclusion from political scientist John Sides:

Neither party has a monopoly on racism.

This is a classic case of something that is true but not interesting. I absolutely hate those things. The worst thing about this is that Hayes's assertion is interesting in aproximately 1 billion different ways! Sides is being deliberately obtuse in finding perhaps the only boring comment in a haystack full of interesting responses! 

What about the South? They used to own black people there and vote for Democrats. Then they kept voting for Democrats until the 1960s. Then, who knows why, they switched parties. The career of Strom Thurmond sort of jumps out, no? He was a  famous segregationist who switched parties but never changed his public stance on racial equality, despite fathering a child with a black woman!!!! What is up with that?

Should I accept this non-answer? This is where the un-objective media comes in. Instead of being some twit at the NYT who is always looking over his shoulder worried about cries of "Bias! Bias!" from people who wouldn't read the NYT to save their lives, John Sides is someone who has staked out a position on the 2012 election by writing a book about it called The Gamble with co-author Lynn Vavreck. That means that it is super easy to find out if he has a larger agenda driving him to give such a blah answer to the question about race and the Republican Party. Sure enough, from the blurb on Amazon:

The candidates' billion-dollar campaigns were important but largely cancelled each other out, opening the way for Obama to do what incumbents usually do when running amid even modest economic growth: win.

In other words, "I'm John Sides, I am trying to rise in academia by advancing the premise that elections are not really about parties or ideas but more about "fundamentals" like economic growth. Therefore, I will pooh, pooh contradictory information with lots of hand waving and little insight." 

So I can put Sides "argument" about race and party id where it belongs: the mental circular file. 


1. No transcript. I refuse to search for and then watch some archived video from MSNBC so I have no idea what the context for Chris Hayes's statement was. It is of zero consequence.

Shutdown Time Killers

Randomness Reigns: Congressional GOP IQ Edition