Carlin and Love’s “Political competition, partisanship, and interpersonal trust in electoral politics” is not an easy read given my lack of political knowledge about the democratic electoral system(2016). However, I find the content very interesting because I can relate to the political activities in the United State and Canada. Carlin and Love (2016) points out that “two-party competition is the norm in the US and El Salvador”. The establishment of a political system is based on the various interest of the social groups, among which, some have more influence than others. I think that’s why we have major and minor political parties in the electoral democracies. Presumably, the competition is more intense when less numbers of parties in the race.
Although social class and race could also play a role, the political system explains more of its trust gap among parties. In Canada, it seemingly adopts a multi-party system. We have Liberal, Conservative, New Democratic (NDP), Bloc Québécois, and the Green Party at the federal level. But checking on the election record, two parties dominate the election—Liberal and Conservative. Although NDP has done some huge contributions to the country (it introduces Canada’s world-famous health care system), it could only gain an official opposition seat at its best. Carlin and Love’s research provides a perfect explanation to NDP’s failure in obtaining office: it’s the partisan competition altering our trust towards a party. NDP is mostly depicted as a socialist party by its opponents. In western democracies, socialism is a monster that controls the mean of production and wealth distribution; in other words, the government guarantees everyone starts the race at the same time and arrive at the finish line at the same time. With this dreadful image in mind, people who identify themselves with liberal or conservative would never vote for NDP.
The partisan competition also alters our way in looking for information. In the US, supporters of the Democrat Party tend to watch CNN for news whereas Republican voters take Fox News as their main news source. The polarization of the political ideology divides peoples even further on top of them already having different interests. In America, it’s up to a point that people from the Democrat and Republican party can’t even reach a consensus on what fact is. To Trump voters, whatever CNN reports is “fake news” and vice versa to Hillary supporters. Maybe like Carlin and Love said (2016), in the long history of human evolution, our cognition is defaulted to process in a certain path–to trust in-group members and distrust out-group members. Somehow, our political identities trigger and magnify this trust and distrust.
Coming from a non-democratic country where political election is mostly a forbidden topic, I do find democratic election entertaining. The presidential election, political dramas and congressional hearings in the US and Canada offer me a great source of fun. In first time, I realized how significant our ideologies shape the way we perceive the world although we are all going through the same experience. To conclude, it’s our political beliefs drive us to classify ourselves and adhere to what we choose to believe.
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