Saturday, March 13, 2010

"Polarizing" is the new meme.

I am constantly confronted with the notion that this candidate or that candidate is "polarizing". Outside of its obviously negative connotation, what the hell does that mean? That meme has been affixed to Sarah Palin since the onset of her emergence on the national political scene as John McCain's running mate in the 2008 Presidential election. I hear it on my local news. I read it every time I stoop to read something in the Washington Post or countless other liberal opinion pieces, some of which pass themselves off as hard news. No, I'm not going to link to all the sources, because you know what I mean.

What exactly does it mean to be "polarizing"? According to Wikipedia, one of my favorite, liberal online sources:
Political scientists principally measure polarization in two ways. One is "plain" or generic polarization, often referred to as popular polarization, which happens when opinions diverge towards poles of distribution or intensity. Political scientists [use] several kinds of metrics to measure popular polarization, such as the American National Election Studies' "feeling thermometer" polls, which measure the degree of opinion about a political figure.
The other form that political scientists examine is partisan polarization, which happens when support for a political figure or position differentiates itself along political party lines.
Popular media definitions and uses of "polarization" tend to be looser.
Ahah! We may be on to something. The popular media (aka, lamestream media) defines "polarization" as something other than what political scientists tend to believe. In other words, the lamestream media twists the definition of "polarizing" to depict something bad or not desirable. To the contrary, a "polarizing" politician is one that has the listener choose sides, something that should be a good thing.

When all is said and done, is not the politician who wins an election the one who is most "polarizing". After all, didn't that politician sway the electorate to their way of thinking? Isn't that desirable in politics? If Sarah Palin continues to be "polarizing", she must be doing something right, because she's persuading people to choose sides and accept her point of view as their own.

That's not a bad thing. What it is is common sense.

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