“But Would You Want Your Daughter to Marry One?”

…one of the supporters of the other political party, that is?

The graph above reflects an estimate of what percent of Republicans and Democrats would feel displeased if their son or daughter were to marry a member of the opposing party.  I constructed the graph based on the survey data reported in this paper and referenced in this Psychology Today article.

The most interesting thing about the graph IMO is the sharp increase from 2008 to 2010…might this have something to do with the election of Barack Obama and the policies and rhetoric he has pursued since his first inauguration?  It’s too bad that there are only the 3 data points for the survey data.  In any event, it is clear that the past 50 years have seen a considerable uptrend in the belief that political divisions between the major factions are so strong as to prevent a happy and successful marriage.

I think it’s clear that this phenomenon is largely a result of what I have called the politicization of absolutely everything.  (See also my post life in the fully politicized society.)

The PT article is titled  “Why Republicans Don’t Want to Marry Democrats,” and goes on to say that  “As we’ve become increasingly polarized in America, conservatives have also defined liberals as an out group.”  I think the title is a little dishonest:  although the data shows a higher % opposed to cross-party marriages among Republicans than among Democrats, the proportion is quite substantial for both sides:  49% versus 33%.  Furthermore, the increase in such negativity from 2008 to 2010 is pretty similar:  1.81 versus 1.65.  (Also, the survey wasn’t about who people wanted to marry; it was about who they wanted their children to marry.)  And re the assertion about conservatives defining liberals as an out-group, anyone who has been paying attention over the past 6 years has seen and heard a constant stream of vituperation directed at conservatives, libertarians, and indeed anyone who dares depart from the “progressive”  worldview.  (As a very current example, see the just-uncovered comments by former IRS official Lois Lerner.)


21 thoughts on ““But Would You Want Your Daughter to Marry One?””

  1. Well, I’m on the right, so I am perfectly happy to blame the left for all this. :-)

    Which I do.

    Here’s a great trend-line compare – Put a line that measures political bitterness and partisanship next to a line that measures the growth and intrusiveness of government overall. You all know how that would look.

    It’s been said that, once we were able to say of Washington (or Sacramento, Albany….) “ahh, the hell with them all, buncha crooks and thieves” and then just go on with our lives. So it is the one-two punches of the left, the obscene “personal is the political” mantra combined with the relentless drive to increase government authority and power, that has simply precluded everyone’s ability to ignore them. So now politics is bloodsport. To paraphrase our esteemed First Lady… “(We) will not allow you to just go about your lives”.

    Want to diffuse passion and hatred in politics.? Make it matter less.

    You know, kinda what the country was founded about.

  2. I’m a single resident of a purple state, and on dating sites it’s not unheard of to see women describing themselves as ‘open-minded’, and therefore adamantly opposed to dating a man who’s conservative, Republican, Christian, Tea Partier, &c. Don’t think I’ve ever seen a woman say she’s on the right and therefore wants nothing to do with the left.

  3. Bbates…I have seen & heard similar comments from single young men: the perception is that a very high % of single women identify with the Left and put things like “Must be committed to the environment and to social justice” on their dating profiles.

    I wonder how the survey results might have changed if focused on a young/single demographic and the question had been How would YOU feel about marrying a member of the opposing party?….rather than the question about one’s children.

  4. I would definitely advise against marry outside of your own political values. These are core values about the way in which the world should work. Not sharing them is a challenge and most marriages have enough challenges without adding to them.

  5. A while back I came up with the concept of TWANLOC; Those Who Are No Longer Our Countrymen. Very short form: it is not party based, but rather those of both parties who would see Americans ruled -vs- those who believe that the individual is free and autonomous.

    The difference cannot be bridged. None of my children have gotten involved with a Collectivist. And I am grateful. The difference is equal or exceeds the differences between religions. In fact, the closest religious approximation I can come up with would be a Jihadi Muslim and a Sabra Jew. There is no compromise, no modus vivendi possible.

    Subotai Bahadur

  6. “on dating sites it’s not unheard of to see women describing themselves as ‘open-minded’, and therefore adamantly opposed to dating a man who’s conservative, Republican, Christian, Tea Partier,”

    I used to read the New York Review of Books and was always amused to see in the personals at the back page, “No Republicans !”

    Of my five children, two are lefties. One is married to an even more radical lefty (Who teaches at a Catholic college) and the other is unmarried. A third child, another daughter. is also a lefty but I can talk to her and she is shifting a bit, I think. My younger son and youngest daughter are libertarian Republican. The older son also has a “daddy thing,” I suspect, and he opposes anything I favor. That’s too bad as he was my favorite and I see little of him now.

    I would be uncomfortable married to a lefty. My mother-in-law used to joke about canceling out her husband’s vote but that was in pleasanter times. He was a Democrat of the FDR variety. He and I had long discussions about everything. I can’t talk to lefties now, not because I don’t want to but because they will not listen. I used to read and post on several lefty blogs but they have blocked all disagreeing comments.

  7. The issue is far deeper than party – it is a difference in underlying moral values.

    Read “The Righteous Mind” by Jonathan Haidt. He used a huge survey to single out 7 specific moral dimensions. Conservatives have to balance all 7 moral values in their lives while progressives focus on at most 2. Libertarians also focus on 2 but a different 2 from progressives (if memory serves.)

  8. I would be interested in seeing an age and gender breakdown of the data….I suspect that the Democrats who would be willing to gracefully accept a Republican son-in-law or daughter-in-law are largely those who are older—established their party identification when the Dems were less radicalized and less of a pseudoreligious cult, and also whose kids are married already, so that the question is a more abstract one.

  9. @Whitehall – yes, Haidt is a marvelous wildcard – an honest liberal who looks at the data.

    @subotai – there is a coalition of NW European and American liberals that transcends nationality. (Think SWPL and the importance of Junior Year Abroad.) That is their first loyalty. Did I mention that they are all white but pretend that they are the open-minded ones?

    Take it to the bank: liberals see everything in the world with great clarity – except themselves. And that ruins all.

  10. A lot of people basically choose their political views so as to fit in with the Group….whether that be the work group, the friend group, or both. Usually, I think, this isn’t a conscious strategy, but rather a subconscious adaptation of coloration to fit in…a psychological equivalent of what a chameleon does with colors.

    Selecting a spouse of opposing political views would tend to ruin the fitting-in strategy.

  11. I’m a fan of a book entitled “The Fourth Turning” by the same two academics who gave us the term “generation X.”

    I look at that chart and- with the context provided by that book- I see an incipient civil war. Subotai has it nailed, in my view. I don’t want to imply that he might agree with my crazy, but I think progressives are essentially all “twanlocs” and basically have no personal identification at all with America or American culture.

    Or Americans. So it is no surprise to see that twanlocs want nothing to do with Americans, or that Americans have learned to reciprocate.

    I suspect it isn’t going to end well, for one side at least.

  12. Andrew X:
    Want to diffuse passion and hatred in politics.? Make it matter less.

    Indeed. Passion in anything is a double-edged sword, a fact of life that people who advocate passionate involvement in activities other than romance, religion and perhaps for some people career tend to avoid recognizing (or they recognize it for a limited set of human activities, typically including romance and religion, but fail to make the connection to other activities such as politics).

  13. Want to diffuse passion and hatred in politics.? Make it matter less.

    But then leftists would have no reason to live.

  14. So it is no surprise to see that twanlocs want nothing to do with Americans, or that Americans have learned to reciprocate.

    Indeed. It was the aggressively and gratuitously nasty attitudes of liberals that first got my attitude shifting from respectful and affectionate disagreement to a reciprocated distrust and hostility.

  15. Since I have two children who are far left politically, I find that we can talk and be affectionate as long as we avoid politics. I avoid the subject as it is painful to see how far they have diverged from what I consider a reasonable political philosophy. For the left, it is more important to believe that political opponents are ignorant and stupid. The comments on that post illustrate how detached the party of Sheila Jackson Lee and Hank Johnson are from recognizing that some people can just disagree, as on global warming, and some are detached from reality, such as the possibility of Guam capsizing from too many Marines stationed there.

    It seems to be an important factor in self image for the left to assume that they are more intelligent than their opponents .

    Thus do we see unexceptional liberal-arts students lecturing other people about things they don’t understand themselves and terming the dissenters “flat-earthers.” Thus do we see people who have never in their lives read a single academic paper clinging to the mantle of “science” as might Albert Einstein. Thus do we see residents of Brooklyn who are unable to tell you at what temperature water boils rolling their eyes at Bjørn Lomborg or Roger Pielke Jr. because he disagrees with Harry Reid on climate change.

    I can’t imagine a marriage with that dynamic. I have an ex-wife, a very intelligent woman who had a good career in banking after we divorced 35 years ago. I still see her from time to time and it is important to her that she let me know that she is much more knowledgeable about banking and finance than I am. I don’t question that as it has never been a major concern of mine. Imagine a first date with such a person. We met when we were college students and, if I want to get her really annoyed, I mention that she had to take “dumbbell English” as a freshman. She swears that is not true but I remember and she knows it.

  16. MikeK,

    I’ve been living the ideologically/morally split marriage for 25 years – so far. Wonderful person in so many ways BUT the underlying difference in moral complexity creates too much friction for complete bonding.

    Sad, really.

    Next reincarnation, I’m marrying a conservative Jewish accountant, no matter which my gender!

  17. An interesting passage in Ayn Rand’s novel We The Living. Kira, the strongly anti-Communist protagonist, and Andrei, a devoted Communist, have become friends. At one point, Kira says to Andrei:

    “…you see, if we had souls, which we haven’t, and if our souls met—yours and mine—they’d fight to the death. But after they had torn each other to pieces, to the very bottom, they’d see that they had the same root.”

    I do think that people who have an underlying similarity can come to differing political manifestations of that common core depending on their life experiences.

  18. MikeK
    It seems to be an important factor in self image for the left to assume that they are more intelligent than their opponents.

    Been that way for over a half century. Recall the Adlai Stevenson quote, which some say is apocryphal.

    During his 1956 presidential campaign, a woman called out to Adlai E.
    Stevenson “Senator, you have the vote of every thinking person!”
    Stevenson called back “That’s not enough, madam, we need a majority!”

    I recall seeing a bumper sticker during the 1980s, when I was a Third Party Plague on both Demo and Pub Houses kind of voter which said, “Vote Republican. It’s better than thinking.”

  19. I am just as likely to blame President Obama* as I am the Tea Party. ” policies and rhetoric” are a two way street and it is beyond silly to pretend that he right does not have its hands dirty in this affair as well.

    I find this development disturbing. I have argued before that one of the clearest markers of racial harmony is intermarriage rates. The percentage of Americans who say they are comfortable with their children marrying a person of x race is a very good measure of just how comfortable Americans are with those of other races in the real world. The only metric that beats it is actual intermarriage rates between the races. (Results for last twenty years: tolerance for interracial marriage rates has shot up; i/3 of Asians and Hispanics intermarry. Only blacks are left out…)

    This is the same metric, but in reverse. This is drawing battle lines. You want a metric of hate and loathing? This is it.

    *Of course the Tea Party would not exist were it not for Obama….

    **Also, the 2008-2010 jump might look more anomalous than it really is. Maybe the 1960 number and the 2002 number were barely different, and just as dramatic a rise began in 2003? We cannot know from the data given.

  20. How about a historical analogy?

    Imagine in 1858, a Boston Brahmin took for his bride a Southern Belle. Or a plantation-owning cousin of Jefferson Davis decided he was to marry a descendent of Cotton Mather.

    Divisiveness is part of the game plan of the progressives and it seems to be working.

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