Friday, January 29, 2016

Meet Some Iowa Caucus-Goers

My NPR/MPR listening has decreased a lot since I stopped driving to work last year, and maybe even more so since my waking routine has mostly eliminated time for Morning Edition. But I still catch an occasional story, like this one from today, Iowa voters in Correctionville think U.S. needs correcting. (No transcript posted yet, but the seven-minute audio is worth listening to.)

The reporter, David Greene, does an excellent job of asking questions of the small group of Republicans he met, finding out what they really think, rather than putting them off by being critical of their opinions. And what they have to say is frightening. They're split between Trump and Cruz, though some wish they could vote for Santorum, Huckabee, or Carson. Those guys don't have a chance, they say sadly.

One woman cited Rush Limbaugh as a credible source. Another derisively referred to Clinton's inability to manage her email. Clearly, their entire world view has been created from right wing media talking points, church, and the limits of what they can see from their farms and small town (population 821). They think Trump and/or Cruz will make them "feel safe." It was painful to hear.

When the topic turned to guns, it became clear they think Obama (and Clinton) have plans to confiscate firearms. ("Can you imagine our country if Hillary gets elected? She's finish everything Obama started — we won't have any more guns, we won't have any rights...") And they need guns for protection, of course, out in the middle of nowhere, Iowa, because the police are too far away. All of them are armed. One man gave this example: At 11:00 p.m., four men armed with long guns came into his yard. He greeted them at the door with a cocked .45, and they asked if they could hunt raccoons on his property. He said no. They went away.

To them, that story is a slamdunk example of why everyone should have a gun in their home. What if those guys had been a home-invasion crew instead of coon hunters, right?

But no thought is given to the fact that having guns around raises the suicide rate, lets toddlers shoot each other, and increases the deadliness of domestic violence. All of that with a lot more likelihood than you using your gun to prevent harm to yourself or your family. Nope, that one time when some doofus thought it was a good idea to go coon-hunting after dark (when raccoons are generally out and about) on someone else's property proves that everyone should be armed. The illusion of control, the illusion of feeling safe is what matters.

If an equally good reporter from Fox News came to my house and interviewed me about what I think, would I sound as clueless as these people (only in the other direction)? Is this all really about world view and confirmation bias, or are they wrong?

I think they're wrong, but then, I have to think that, right?


By the way, a great comment thread follows the NPR audio.

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