Pew Research Blames Republicans for Polarization in Congress. They are wrong.
The Pew Research Center recently released a study some are using to blame Republicans for the polarization in Congress. CNN’s gleeful headline on the report reads, “Analysis: Yes, it’s Republicans’ fault Congress is so polarized.”
In his analysis, Drew DeSilver, a senior writer at Pew, summarizes, “Democrats on average have become somewhat more liberal, while Republicans on average have become much more conservative.” We will not argue about polarization in Congress. However, we take issue with Pew’s poll findings because the premise of what is now mainstream has changed.
As Republicans are called “Ideologically extreme; scornful of compromise, unmoved by conventional understanding of facts, evidence and science,” we must remember what the conventional understanding of facts was 50 years ago. A fair review shows that the areas in which Republicans are “uncompromising” are areas that Democrats have moved the definition of mainstream.
Fifty years ago, the common belief among Republicans and Democrats was that a woman was a woman and a man was a man and saying so was void of controversy. In 2021, Democratic Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi introduced and passed on a party-line vote, House rules focused on gender-neutral language.
Fifty years ago, the idea of spending federal dollars to fund abortions was a no-go for Republicans and Democrats. Today, Democrats are relentless in their support of funding for Planned Parenthood an organization whose magic math masks a profit on abortions.
We do not have to look fifty years back to see who is politicizing science. In the last year, Americans have seen the “evidence and science” coming from Democrats on the basic use of masks change indiscriminately and ruin livelihoods in the process. As Republicans branded conspiracy theorists spoke out against masks, not only was their patriotism and love for humanity questioned, their jobs were threatened.
It doesn’t take a multimillion-dollar think tank to commission a study to find, as Pew did, that “Democrats and Republicans are farther apart ideologically today than at any time in the past 50 years.” But it does take honest brokers of the facts to understand who’s moving the goalpost on what is mainstream.
Dee Dee Bass Wilbon and Deana Bass Williams are partners at Bass Public Affairs and co-host the podcast Policy and Pound Cake.