Joe the Plumber and Partisan Schadenfreude
We're all vulnerable to it.
Here is one of the nagging feelings that’s been in the back of my mind over the last few years:
We’ve developed a political culture in which one party has affirmative policy goals and the second party is committed mostly to making the first party angry. And this incentive system has created a market in which the first party campaigns on healthcare reform and infrastructure spending while the second party campaigns on performative cruelty.
Turns out there’s enough evidence here to support a scholarly article: “Partisan schadenfreude and candidate cruelty,” in the new issue of Political Psychology.
But the data is more nuanced than you might expect and presents a cautionary tale not just for one side, but for all of us. Especially when it comes to people like Joe the Plumber.
It’s going to be a bit of a ride; so let’s get to it.