Wednesday, August 29, 2012

The Polarization Paradox: Why Hyperpartisanship Strengthens Conservatism and Undermines Liberalism

In a new essay in Breakthrough Journal +Matthew Nisbet and I examine the spiral of polarization that has reshaped politics in recent election cycles, and make an argument for a big “D” Democratic effort to overcome polarization, given the long-term problems that widening ideological rifts create for them.  

“As liberals, we tell a one-sided story about the complex causes of America's political paralysis. We blame the conservative movement, Fox News, libertarian billionaires, and the "do nothing" Republicans in Congress. Much of this story is true. … But there is plenty of blame to go around. Over the past decade, liberals have become more like conservatives, adopting a win-at-all-costs commitment to policy debates and elections. … 
The strategy has been dangerously misguided. Extreme polarization has served conservatives very well, driving moderate leaders from politics, promoting feelings of cynicism, inefficacy, and distrust among the public, and forcing Democrats to spend huge sums of money on canvassing, texting, social media, and celebrity appeals in order to turn out moderates, young people, and minorities on election day. Less clear is how America's escalating ideological arms race will conceivably serve liberals. Instead of going to war against the Right, liberals will better serve their social and political objectives by waging a war on polarization.”

Read the full article from Breakthrough Journal here.