Opinion | Joe Biden's Approach: Speak Softly, and Carry a Big Agenda (by Ezra Klein)
It wasn't a week ago I was on Twitter angry that we haven't gotten stimulus relief checks delivered yet. This opinion piece was a good reminder that there is more going on than just those checks. Biden and his team are pushing hard in a number of ways that would, each individually, potentially be presidency defining.
Ezra highlighted this first paragraph on Twitter, where I found the link to the article, but it's actually the second paragraph that I found most insightful and something to keep in mind regarding my own biases. It's something that people have to remember amid the craziness of Texas opening up fully for the pandemic - it wasn't the individuals in that state who made that decision, it was the governor and his leadership. Will many agree? Absolutely. But not everyone. And not even all Republicans.
A few pieces of political science research are shaping my thinking here. In 2012, Stephen Nicholson, a political scientist at the University of Georgia, published an interesting paper called "Polarizing Cues." In it, Nicholson asked people their opinions of proposed housing and immigration policies, sometimes telling them that Barack Obama supported the policy and at other times telling them that George W. Bush or John McCain supported the policy. What he found was that opinions didn't much change when people heard that a political leader from their own party supported a bill. But opinions changed dramatically when you told them a political leader from the other side supported a bill — it led to sharp swings against the legislation, no matter the underlying policy content.
When I called Nicholson to ask him about the paper, he gave an insightful explanation for the results. Humans tend to see diversity in the groups we belong to, and sameness in the groups we mistrust, he said.
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