Thomas Edsall has a good review of some recent research on polarization in the New York Times today: The strength of a voter’s identity as a Democrat or Republican drives political engagement more than personal gain. Better educated voters more readily form “identity centric” political commitments to their party of choice, which goes a long… Continue reading Ideology and Education
When civic studies scholars write about civics and citizens, as Peter Levine does today, we will usually mention the following trinity: facts, values, and strategies. Here’s Levine: The citizen is committed to affecting the world. Some important phenomena may be beyond her grasp, so that she sees them but sees no way of changing them. But… Continue reading Civic Variations on the Fact, Value, Strategy Distinction
As the political participation of disaffected, unrepresented voters drops, this reserve army of the unallied gets bigger. It’s especially potent in primaries, which are very low turnout events. My suspicion is that if disaffected voters could be reliably re-engaged, the parties would likely find wedge issues to divvy them up over a relatively short set of elections. But they may well divvy them up differently than the parties had previously done. This would be the seed of a realignment.
Insofar as we are engaged in a collective project, we must both mutually support each others’ inquiry and avoid errors. These two goals are at odds: homogeneity can also lead to unchallenged motivated reasoning and thus to polarization and error. But mutual inquiry requires some degree of shared values, assumptions, and methods which make political diversity divisive and paralyzing.
Recently I’ve been thinking about a book by Erin McKenna which I read as an undergraduate: The Task of Utopia: A Pragmatist and Feminist Perspective. I read it then because it promised to bridge the divide between my favorite genre, science-fiction, and my interest in philosophy. But the book profoundly changed me, and I’m always surprised… Continue reading Prison Abolition, Reform, and End-State Anxieties