Posts tagged ‘National Election Study’

False Dichotomy

This is one of the oddest false dichotomies I have seen in a long time:

Since 1992, the National Election Study
has asked respondents four questions that collectively make up an
"authoritarian index." The four questions ask you to specify which of
two attributes you value more in children:

  1. Independence vs respect for elders

  2. Self-reliance vs. obedience

  3. Curiosity vs. good manners

  4. Being considerate vs. being well behaved

The first item in each pair marks you as less
authoritarian and the second item marks you as more authoritarian.
After you've answered all four, the scores are added up and normalized
on a scale from 0 to 1, with 1 being the most authoritarian.

It will come as no surprise that authoritarians tend to vote
Republican. What may surprise you, though, is that this has only become
true in recent years.

I am sure this does not "surprise" Kevin Drum's leftish readers, since they so want to think of themselves as freedom- and individual-rights-loving vs. the mean old Republicans, whom I certainly have no desire to defend on this score.

But are these weird false dichotomies or what? 

Why is independence the opposite of respect for elders?  Isn't this like saying Kleenex is the opposite of pudding?  Isn't the opposite of "independence" actually "the desire to mooch off other people"?  Why isn't the opposite of "self reliance" in fact the "desire to have the government run your life for you?"  I mean, I personally have strived (striven??) to have my kids simultaneouly be both curious and have good-manners. 

And is Drum really trying to argue that Democrats are all about the stuff on the left side while Republicans are for all the stuff on the right?  Who in the world is going to believe that the folks who, for example, support Social Security because they think individuals can't be trusted to manage their own retirement savings, are the spokesmen for "independence" and "self-reliance."  As I said in my comments to the post:

As a libertarian, I am thrilled to see you championing the cause of anti-authoritarianism and self-reliance.  I am sure that this means
that we will soon see your opposition to telling people what wages are
acceptable, what features their car must have, where they can and can't
smoke, who they can or can't hire and fire, where they can get their
health care, what schools they are forced to fund, how much fat can be
in their diet, what drug risk trade-offs are acceptable, how steep
their wheelchair ramps have to be, how energy efficient their
appliances have to be, what minimum percentages of minorites must be at
their school in their workforce, why they shouldn't be allowed to shop
at Walmart or buy from Chinese manufacturers, what lisence they need to
braid hair or to sell caskets, etc.