Political polarization is when politicians move farther from the “center” and may have a lot to do with the broken structure of American Politics, according to a new study. This is especially true if you happen to be in a conservative state. Those red states keep moving farther right and it is causing their income gap to grow wider and wider.
New research by Nolan McCarty, a professor at Princeton University, along with other political scientists suggests America’s political dysfunction is not simply a byproduct of the growing gap between Republicans and Democrats but also the growing, harsh reality of income inequality.
McCarty worked with John Voorheis and Boris Shor, on the study which shows that the growing ideological gap between the parties is not just due to incompetence, or their unwillingness to work together, but it’s also due to a deeper, structural problem: the ever-widening gap between the rich and poor.
What is also clear, is the states with the biggest income gap are also the ones that the Tea Party has infiltrated with their ridiculous pro-corporate agenda. The poorer the low-income citizens get and the richer the one percent gets, the farther the state government moves to the right — which in turn makes the poor poorer and the rich richer.
This study looked at the income inequality in each state since the mid-90s, and compared those numbers to records of the state’s political leanings. What they found is that there was a significant correlation between states losing income equality and gaining Republicans in the legislature. Even though Democrats tend to become more liberal in the face of income inequality, they tend to lose ground in states where the rich are the richest and the poor are the poorest anyway.
According to the abstract of the study:
We find that income inequality has a large, positive and statistically significant effect on political polarization. Economic inequality appears to cause state Democratic parties to become more liberal. Inequality, however, moves state legislatures to the right overall. Such findings suggest that the effect of income inequality impacts polarization by replacing moderate Democratic legislators with Republicans.
Statistical methods were used to eliminate other factors and show that a state’s income inequality has a large, positive and causal effect on its political polarization. Also, these results have increased exponentially in recent years and seem to be concentrated in the states that are “reddest” by the end of the sample.
What this tells us is that, while the study does not say why red states suffering horrendous income inequality are becoming more and more conservative, it does tell us that doing so is making their problems worse.
In other words, growing income inequality is a strong force pushing both parties farther from the center. This means that while Democrats by and large are moving towards the left trying to correct income inequality they are losing ground where they are needed most; and usually, to candidates that have a stronger financial backing from those wealthy elite that wish to get richer.
Feature image via Addicting Info