Satisfaction with Government Depends on who is in Power

One of the earliest findings in social psychology concerns the power of competition to breed contempt and the power of cooperation to breed friendship.  In the political realm, it is natural for there to be some contempt amongst rivals during a campaign, but the shared goals of all governments – keeping us safe, helping the economy, providing for the least fortunate, enabling the pursuit of happiness, sound fiscal policy – should theoretically bring people together between campaigns.  Unfortunately, campaign season is never ending.

More evidence for the enduring influence of the campaign over our views of government comes in the form of the below chart, posted by NoLabels on SwayWhat's partisanship page.

While it makes sense for our view of government to change somewhat depending on the policies of the party in charge, it is hard to look at this chart and not believe that "being in charge" is driving our view of government as much as the policies that should be government's goal.  One of the goals of is to keep pushing the idea that campaigns are a means toward goals that we all share, rather than an end in and of themselves and that policies and outcomes should drive our judgments of government, rather than partisanship.

– Ravi Iyer


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