“What We Know and Don’t Know about Our Polarized Politics”

Nolan McCarty kicks off a must-read series at WaPo’s “The Monkey Cage” blog:

Numerous times over the past several years Americans have witnessed how the lack of compromise and effective negotiation are central problems in our political system.  The bigger challenge is explaining how this came about, and what can be done about it.  To this end, Jane Mansbridge, Harvard political theorist and past  president of the American Political Science Association (APSA) and Cathie Jo Martin convened an APSA task force to lay out an intellectual agenda for the study of political negotiation and promote the many insights from political science, psychology and economics that might help improve negotiations and facilitate compromise.

As part of this project, I was asked to head a sub-group that focused on how rising levels of polarization and gridlock have impeded negotiation, compromise and good governance. By design, the polarization sub-group reflected a variety of viewpoints with respect to the nature and effects of polarized politics in the United States.  But in the spirit of a task force on negotiation and compromise, I believe that the report reflects a reasonable consensus about what political scientists know (and, more importantly, don’t know) about partisan polarization. So the report serves as a useful point of embarkation for our Monkey Cage series on polarization.

Here are the main points of agreement, briefly stated.  Readers are encouraged to check out the actual report for the details….


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