The headline referred to "partisan asymmetry in motivated cognition," but in his Thursday blog post on the Washington Monthly's web site, Mark Kleiman said it in a more colloquial way: Republicans are "radically more detached from reality" than Democrats.
Kleiman, a professor of public policy at UCLA, asserted that for the GOP, "the fringe has become the base," and that America would benefit from "a series of devastating electoral defeats for the Republicans sufficient to shock them back into contact with consensus reality."
From Kleiman's post (emphasis added):
[H]uman beings divided into feuding factions tend to act less intelligently than those same human beings would in a less polarized context. But all factions are not alike on this crucial dimension. Some track reality – and encourage their followers to track reality – pretty well, some not so well, and some abominably. The Red faction, where the fringe has become the base and where no adult supervision is allowed to interfere with the dissemination of pure lunacy, is radically more detached from reality than the Blue faction. Of course there are Blue lunatics, but they aren’t allowed to dictate the terms of debate...
Tracking reality maps, albeit imperfectly, into acting with decency: “Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities.” It’s not by accident that the party of global-warming denial and poll unskewing is also the party of torture.
No patriotic American should be pleased that our republic no longer has two political parties either of which can be safely entrusted with the task of governing. But wishing that fact away will not make it disappear. What the republic needs right now is a public awareness of how sick and twisted the Red team actually is, leading a series of devastating electoral defeats for the Republicans sufficient to shock them back into contact with consensus reality...
Another Washington Monthly blogger, Democratic strategist Ed Kilgore, addressed a related issue this past Monday (emphasis added):
[T]here may be a few primaries in deep blue country where one [Democratic] candidate insists he or she is more “progressive” than another, but it’s the exception rather than the rule. But by and large, it’s just remarkable the extent to which Republican candidates act as though it is almost literally impossible to be too conservative. I keep half-expecting some GOPer to broadcast the slogan: “I’m insanely conservative.” But I guess Paul Broun doesn’t have the money to run ads.