Shoppers visit a Costco Wholesale in Tigard, Ore., Saturday, Feb. 29, 2020, after reports of Oregon’s first case of coronavirus was announced in the nearby Oregon city of Lake Oswego on Friday. (AP Photo/Gillian Flaccus)
These days, it seems like politics dominates everything. It influences where people shop, what types of entertainment we consume, and even who they choose as a mate. Anytime a major story breaks, Americans’ opinions on the event seem to fall along party lines.
One can see this social phenomenon in America’s reaction to the recent coronavirus outbreak that has already claimed thousands of lives worldwide. A Reuters/Ipsos poll revealed that political affiliation is playing a significant role in the formation of people’s opinions on the disease.
“Americans who now find themselves politically divided over seemingly everything are now forming two very different views of another major issue: the dangers of the new coronavirus.
Democrats are about twice as likely as Republicans to say the coronavirus poses an imminent threat to the United States, according to a Reuters/Ipsos poll conducted this week.”
The study also analyzed changes in the daily routines of those polled. They found that “More than half of Republicans, about 54%, said they had not altered their daily routines because of the virus, compared to about 40% of Democrats.”
The study also found that more Democrats (almost half) indicated that they are taking action to protect themselves from the illness, including washing their hands more frequently and refraining from travel. On the other hand, Republican participants stated that they did not view the coronavirus as a threat since it still “felt remote.”
Cindi Hogue, an Arkansas woman who was surveyed, told Reuters that the outbreak had not impacted her life. “I haven’t changed a single thing,” she said. “It’s not a reality to me yet. It hasn’t become a threat enough yet in my world.”
Hogue and other right-leaning participants stated that politics did not influence their decisions. However, it appears that political affiliation does seem to have an impact. Reuters reported that “about four of every 10 Democrats said they thought the new coronavirus poses an imminent threat, compared to about two of every 10 Republicans.”
Robert Talisse, a Vanderbilt University philosophy professor, said that today’s political polarization could be having a subtle effect on how Americans are viewing the events they hear about on a daily basis. “This partisan-sort stuff is real; it just doesn’t feel like that’s what’s going on because our partisan selves just feel like ourselves,” he told Reuters.
The author of the Reuters piece asserts that the reason why political preference is influencing various opinions on the coronavirus is essentially due to the echo chamber effect. Americans on both sides of the political divide tend to consume media that affirms their political views. “Our hyper-polarization is so strong that we don’t even assess a potential health crisis in the same way. And so it impedes our ability to address it,” said Jennifer McCoy, a Georgia State political science professor.
The echo chamber effect might seem like a reasonable explanation that illustrates how political affiliation impacts Americans’ reactions to events like the coronavirus outbreak. But how many of us are genuinely immersed in echo chambers?
According to a recent Pew Research poll, about one-fifth of Democrats and one-fifth of Republicans only consume media that agrees with their political views. It’s a significant percentage, but it certainly isn’t high enough to account for this particular social phenomenon. The rest of those polled might primarily consume news that reflects their opinions but they are still exposed to media from the opposite side.
It might make more sense to consider the attitudes of Americans toward the media they consume. In January, another Pew Research poll showed that Democrats are far more likely to trust the press than Republicans. Another study also revealed that water is wet, and Elizabeth Warren is not a Native American.
Anyone following the corporate media’s coverage of the coronavirus outbreak has seen their unabashed attempts to convince the American public that we’re all going to die an excruciating death because of the disease. Even worse, they are also blaming – you guessed it – President Trump for the spread of the illness. Put simply, the press is brazenly politicizing the event.
In light of this, it seems logical that Democrats would be more likely to alter their daily routines in fear of the coronavirus. It makes sense that they would see it as more of a threat than Republicans would. They have more trust in the reportage of the media than conservatives, who trust the Fourth Estate about as much as one might trust Joe Biden with their teenage daughters.
The fact of the matter is this: The media has two objectives when situations like the coronavirus arise. First, scare the hell out of as many Americans as possible. Second, blame it all on that mean guy in the Oval Office. Unfortunately for them, this tactic seems to only work on progressives who already believe that all of the world’s ills can be attributed to “Orange Man Bad.” Will America ever have an honest media establishment?
Follow me on Twitter: @JeffOnTheRight
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