Who believes that the Federal government seeks to take over Texas?

Summary:  The Jade Helm military exercise has sparked an urban legend. Polls showing who believes fringe theories act as x-rays illuminating the American polity. Some of the results are expected if alarming. Some are unexpected and hence even more valuable.  {2nd of 2 posts today.}

Jade Helm

Contents

  1. A funny question.
  2. Answer by ideology.
  3. The Evangelicals speak.
  4. The Tea Party speaks.
  5. Answers by age.
  6. Answers by gender.
  7. Answers by preferred candidate.
  8. Conclusions.
  9. For More Information.

(1)  A funny question

The multi-state military exercise known as Jade Helm has aroused an unusually strong reaction among elements of the public. For details see the Wikipedia entry, the Snopes page, and the Washington Post story. These went ballistic when Governor Greg Abbott directed the Texas State Guard to monitor it “to ensure that Texans’ safety, constitutional rights, private property rights and civil liberties will not be infringed during the eight-week training period …”

In response Public Policy Polling® creatively asked an interesting question in a survey done last week. The results are amazing, and become more so when examined more closely.

Public Policy Polling, May 2014

(2) Answer by ideology

A breakdown of the answers by ideology gives a more interesting perspective. This weird theory has believers on both extremes, another example of commonality of thinking among the far Left and Right. The political spectrum is a circle, not a line.

 

Public Policy Polling, May 2014

(3)  The Evangelicals speak

Modern American Evangelicals are unusually susceptible to political extremism, quite a change for this core American constituency.

Public Policy Polling, May 2014

(4) The Tea Party speaks

No surprise to these results. A desire to reform America makes extremists more dangerous to the rest of us, as they believe so many things that are not so.

Public Policy Polling, May 2014

(5) Answers by age

Again not a surprise — both the young and the old are susceptible to weird theories. It’s typical of the young, but is this common among the old? Or is something unusual happening in America?

Public Policy Polling, May 2014

(6) Answers by gender

Not a significant difference between the genders.

Public Policy Polling, May 2014

(7) Answers by preferred candidate

This highlights the differences between the candidates better than anything else I’ve seen. Note the wide spread of belief in this theory from 15% (supporters of Christie) to 76% (Perry).

Public Policy Polling, May 2014

Blind Liberty

(8) Conclusions

Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world, …
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.

— “The Second Coming” by Yeats (1865-1939).

(9)  About the survey

“Public Policy Polling® interviewed 685 Republican primary voters and 600 Democratic primary voters nationally from May 7th to 10th. The margins of error for the surveys are +/-3.7% and +/-4.0% respectively. 80% of interviews for the poll were conducted over the phone with 20% interviewed over the internet to reach respondents who don’t have landline telephones.” {From the report.}

Public Policy Polling logo

(10)  About Public Policy Polling®

“Businessman Dean Debnam founded Public Policy Polling (PPP) in 2001 to address inefficiencies in public policy surveys. Debnam, current President and CEO of PPP, has over 30 years experience in creating and growing businesses as well as an active interest in politics and public policy.

“… Public Policy Polling was formed to measure and track public opinion in an affordable way. PPP employs Interactive Voice Response (IVR) technology to poll quickly, cost-effectively, accurately and on a wide range of issues.”  {From their website.}

(11)  For More Information

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25 thoughts on “Who believes that the Federal government seeks to take over Texas?

  1. Strangely-worded question. “The Government” already governs Texas — it has no need to “take it over.” Should Texas be interested in removing itself from the control of the federal government it would do well to remember how that worked out the last time around.

  2. America believes itself to be exceptional, Texas and New Your believe themselves to be exceptional in America.
    Both Instances are horseshit

  3. Fabius Maximus,

    Who among those demographics do you think is best able to form the Committees of Correspondence that you encourage?

    Knows a Little of What’s Going On“, The Baffler, 7 May 2015 — Scott Beauchamp links the paranoia of the right with the very visible usage of police state violence in urban and black parts of the country to suggest that it makes sense to worry about overreach from our security apparatus but that conservatives seem to be busy looking the other way during this case.

    You have been writing for some time that the economy is changing and things are not going to return a pre-crash ‘normal.’ It may be worth considering if the political ‘normal’ is also close to a break. There have been quite a few political and international events that are hitting political fault lines that are exposing the weakness of the current political narratives to those who are watching. It’s obviously not to a point where we would expect parties to change their tones or politicians to declare out of the mainstream, but the possibility for odd seeming alliances in American politics seems ripe.

    PF Khans

    1. PF Khan,

      (1) “conservatives seem to be busy looking the other way during this case.”

      The Right is quite clear and consistent about our security services: they are valuable when using force to maintain social order against the underclasses and the Left (hence even non-violent protests can be suppressed), but are illegitimate when used against “real” Americans (hence their worry about ATF, FBI work against “patriot” groups, etc).

      (2) “It may be worth considering if the political ‘normal’ is also close to a break.”

      As I have written for 10 years, we are in a process of evolution in both economic and political regimes. There is no “break” for either, just slow change — with even slower recognition of the changes. There are ample precedents in history for such evolutions, which are more common than the showy but rare successful revolutions.

      The political evolution is the clearer of the 2 to me, away from the imprefect Second Republic, the America-that-once-was, to a plutocracy. The economic evolution is far less clear to me, especially with both massive demographic changes (fertility, age distribution and ethnicity) AND second industrial revolution just gaining speed.

    2. Fabius Maximus,

      “The Right is quite clear and consistent about our security services: they are valuable when using force to maintain social order against the underclasses and the Left (hence even non-violent protests can be suppressed), but are illegitimate when used against “real” Americans (hence their worry about ATF, FBI work against “patriot” groups, etc).”

      That’s a great point. I think the Right sees the security services as though it is totally divorced from the rest of its views on the government. Liberty for individuals and freedom from the interference of the government is a core conservative belief. Small, limited government. Except for the security services which should be big and menacing and prepared to do bad things to evil people. It doesn’t matter if their lavish spending and lax regulation of those services has produced little of value and higher and higher bills, there’s something that keeps the Right from seeing the security service as another sort of service. Any idea what?

      “As I have written for 10 years, we are in a process of evolution in both economic and political regimes…The political evolution is the clearer of the 2 to me, away from the imprefect Second Republic, the America-that-once-was, to a plutocracy.”

      My apologies, I intended to draw attention more to the political alliances that make up the current political climate and less the general political regime. There is a fault line in American politics around the security service that exists because one side has bought into a beautiful lie and the other side seems to think the lie is stupid but irrelevant. I think that that has the potential to destabilize our politics in ways that are currently unimaginable.

      PF Khans

    3. Duncan,

      “There is a fault line in American politics around the security service that exists because one side has bought into a beautiful lie and the other side seems to think the lie is stupid but irrelevant.”

      Can you explain that a bit more? It sounds interesting, but I don’t understand.

    4. Fabius Maximus,

      The beautiful lie that I think is underpinning a lot of American political beliefs on the security service can be summarized this way:
      1) we need protection from great violent evil
      2) service members/police officers are all heroes
      3) spineless politicians always throw the service members/police officers under the bus and never kowtow to a brutal security service
      4) accountability just gets in the way of effectiveness
      5) only professionals can really handle these issues
      6) if we talk openly about how we’re doing these things, the great evil will benefit more than the public
      7) lying for the “greater good” is ok and doesn’t lead to corruption
      8) doing “whatever it takes” is the only decision on security matters

      The lie is that the security service can be malicious and have shown themselves to be time and again. Politicians do lie for bad reasons and so do generals and building a culture that doesn’t condemn that. Doing “whatever it takes” is often stupid and counterproductive in policing, counter-insurgency and warfare. Doing “whatever it takes” means pinching pennies elsewhere. Professionals don’t always know what they are talking about and politicians have to hold the security apparatus to account for it to be most effective.
      The Right in America seems to earnestly believe these lies. The Left (especially the neoliberals) seem interested in the political benefits that are conferred with being tough. Consider that while Bush seemed to earnestly believe that drone strikes were the best way to handle a real terrorist threat, Obama has often come across as Machiavellian in his usage of drones as though he’s not really concerned about a terrorist attack from the people targeted. That’s what I meant by the lie and the position of the Right and the Left.

      The possible fault line is that this lie gets exposed in a crisis because security services are inherently crisis management units. They don’t have to respond regularly but when they do it better be spot on. Are small businesses best protected in urban areas by SWAT teams? Wouldn’t the money for such combat teams be better spent on other forms of policing that reduce the risk of riot and catch burglars? In California, the state has started spending more on prisons than on colleges as a result of “whatever it takes” and that is a burden on every parent and their children today. Will they continue to accept that logic?
      These strains and groans of the system will go on slowly until they don’t. The Republicans never won the South politically until they did. Democrats didn’t get the African-American vote until Roosevelt made changes to attract the vote. The current political blocs seem stable but part of that stability is based on assumptions about the security services that are not true.

      PF Khans

    5. PFK,

      Thanks for this thought-provoking comment. You remind us that our history shows that change is always possible.

      On the other hand, the past changes you mention resulted from generations of work by organized political groups (political in a technical sense: e.g., unions were highly political). I don’t see that today in my community. I don’t see any signs of that in the thousands of comments here about political reform.

      Hence my belief we are at best in the early stages of the reform process. Perhaps modern tech makes these things run faster. I’m skeptical, but it is difficult to know about such things.

  4. I Am Not Backing Off Anything I Said” By Isaac Chotiner, Slate — “An interview with Seymour Hersh.” Opening:

    Chotiner: Well let’s talk about sources. A lot of the reporting that got us into the last stupid war was based on bad and often anonymous sources. Is there a problem with journalists having a limited number of sources, just generally speaking? Is this a problem? With unnamed sources—

    Hersh: Are you kidding me? Unnamed sources? You are smarter than that. This is too boring.

  5. I would think at least a few of the poll respondents took the question to mean “Is the government taking over our lives with more intrusive laws, more taxes, and more regulations?”, and not necessarily “Is Barack Obama planning to start an armed conflict with Governor Greg Abbott?”

    1. Todd,

      That is an interesting idea. I have wondered often often these questions are seen not as questions about facts to be answered by people, but inquiry of herd identity to be answered by sheep.

      Or, more neutrally, each question is an inquiry as to the person’s tribal identity. So the answers have little cognitive content, because so many people no longer see their beliefs as having real world implication – but more like questions of ideology or theology.

      For more — and IMO equally depressing examples — see
      http://www.foxnews.com/politics/interactive/2015/05/14/fox-news-poll-voters-believe-wh-incompetent-us-still-in-recession-isis-has/

    2. Todd,

      Kevin Drum agrees with you in this well-written analysis at Mother Jones: “Lunatic Conspiracy Theories Aren’t What They Used to Be“. Conclusion:

      It’s all good fun, but no, I don’t think that a third of Republicans really believe this nonsense. It’s just their way of showing that they’re members in good standing of the political faction that believes Obama is capable of anything in his power-mad struggle to turn the United States into a socialist hellhole. The rest is just fluff.

  6. As I have written for 10 years, we are in a process of evolution in both economic and political regimes. There is no “break” for either, just slow change — with even slower recognition of the changes. There are ample precedents in history for such evolutions, which are more common than the showy but rare successful revolutions. – From your reply to PF Khans @ 20150514 8:37pm

    Your reply reminded me of Peter Turchin’s cliodynamics where scientists and mathematicians analyze history in the hopes of finding patterns they can then use to predict the future. He’s concluded that unless something changes, we’re due for a wave of widespread violence in about 2020, including riots and terrorism. Here’s an article for reference to what I’m referring to: Mathematicians Predict the Future With Data From the Past, Wired

    I was wondering if you’re familiar with Turchin’s work and if so, what if anything do you think of it?

    1. Arguendo,

      I am familiar with it, although it is over my pay grade. IMO it is not worth public attention until has produced a successful prediction (that is not proof it works, just a milestone). I find these kind of things provide no light — just yet another mechanism for confirmation bias.

      Much like the Pope has become. The Left cites him as a venerable sage of ancient authority on climate, but when it comes to abortion and contraception he leads an institutional oppressor of women, with a history of fondness for NAZIs and child abusers.

      That doesn’t imply that this is not a valuable line of research, however. Rather, that’s it’s too early for use.

  7. Thank you for your reply to my previous question.

    …another example of commonality of thinking among the far Left and Right. The political spectrum is a circle, not a line.

    While voters clearly continue to thrash about in Left and Right ideologies, I no longer see the political spectrum our politicians occupy as being left to right. At least not on any issue concerning money or power. Generally, the only issues our left and right politicians seem to differentiate themselves on are wedge issues (e.g., race, gender, sexual orientation, and class; but typically only ever middle/upper-middle class vs. poor and rarely ever the 99% vs. the 1%). They may pay lip service to other issues, but take little meaningful action. Also, by focusing on wedge issues they keep us fighting among ourselves.

    I think the political spectrum our politicians occupy is actually top to bottom. The plutocrats (i.e., the 1% of the 1%) and their entourage (i.e., the 1%) making up the top of the political spectrum and the rest of us making up the other end (i.e., the 99% below). This becomes especially true the higher the political office they hold.

    I believe this is why we see our politicians so aligned on some issues (i.e., issues of money and power) and not on others. I’m not suggesting they align on all issues of money and power as there are adversarial plutocratic interests at play. However, where money and power are at stake, they seem more than willing to cooperate.

    1. arguendo,

      I agree, but conceptualize it differently. A circle is a two dimensional object. Picking the dimensions that best highlight the issues is difficult. IMO there is a a strong polarity on social issues, which creates much of the political conflict in America today. These are mostly of low interest to the 1%.

      Then there are the “hard” issues of money and power. There the 1% dominates both parties. There are still Left and Right among elected officials, outside the range of the 1%’s interest — but its quite small. This shows in votes on the big hard issues (excuse my sexist language about these seminal political factors), which tend to large bipartisan majorities: faux regulation of the Deep State, authorizing foreign wars, defense spending, etc.

  8. The political spectrum is a circle, not a line.

    I’m very interested in your conceptualization. Although I think I get the gist of what you’re saying here, can you provide a more detailed explanation of the political spectrum as a circle. If you’ve already written about it, please direct me to a previous post? If you haven’t, maybe a future post?

    This shows in votes on the big hard issues (excuse my sexist language about these seminal political factors)…

    Ha!

    1. Arguendo,

      It is not my original idea. I don’t have time to discuss this.

      One point: the extremes of the spectrum have more in common with each other than with moderates. For example, it is commonplace for people to move between far Right & Left — but seldom do extremists become moderates (except through age).

      Also, it is often difficult to place extremist people and organizations on the Left-Right spectrum. The Unabomber, Hitler and the NAZIs.

  9. Thank you for your reply.

    I found the article below provides a good description w/ examples if anyone else happens to have a similar question.

    It is time to stop talking about the “political spectrum” in this country, and instead talk about the “political circle.” If I head to the left or right on a spectrum, I will continue to travel further from my starting point. On a circle, however, if I start to my right and go far enough, I will end up to the left of where I started. This is the best imagery I can use to explain that I am so conservative on some issues that I become a liberal. – The Political Circle, Baltimore Sun

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