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  1. More Information
  2. Red and Blue Nation? Characteristics and Causes of America's Polarized Politics
  3. Red and Blue Nation? Characteristics and Causes of America’s Polarized Politics
  4. Account Options
  5. How America Went Haywire - The Atlantic

More Information

Indeed, legal strictures have posed barriers to imports and possibly discouraged foreign investors, as well as interfered with some U. At times the social regulatory regime has also stirred abrasive efforts to extend U. Even if those frictions have been of minor consequences so far, inefficient legal and regulatory conventions exact a toll on U. The book concludes that in a global economy the burdensome regulations of foreign countries deserve attention, but increasingly so do the burdens that American "adversarial legalism" imposes on itself and sometimes on others.

Ideas and prospects for correcting the problem are discussed throughout. The contributors include Lee Axelrad, Thomas F. Burke, Loren Cass, Robert A. Kagan, Mark K.

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Landy, Roger G. Noll, and David Vogel. Account Options Sign in.

Red and Blue Nation? Characteristics and Causes of America's Polarized Politics

Top charts. New arrivals. Red and Blue Nation? Nivola David W. Brady May 1, Analysts and pundits increasingly perceive a widening gulf between "red states" and "blue states. America's polarized politics, it is said, poses fundamental dangers for democratic and accountable government. Heightened partisanship is thought to degrade deliberation in Congress and threaten the integrity of other institutions, from the courts to the media.

Red and Blue Nation? Characteristics and Causes of America’s Polarized Politics

But, how deep do the country's political divisions actually run? Are they truly wreaking havoc upon the social fabric? Has America become a house divided? This important new book, Red and Blue Nation? The first of two volumes cosponsored by Brookings and the Hoover Institution carefully considers the extent to which polarized views among political leaders and activists are reflected in the population at large.

It pays particular attention to factors such as the increased influence of religion and the changing nature of the media. The authors show that while the severity of the country's "culture wars" is often overstated, significant fissures have opened. In Red and Blue Nation?

Account Options

This comprehensive and accessible discussion of the polarization debate will be an essential resource for policymakers, scholars, and anyone interested in the health of American public discourse. Contributors include Alan I. Abramowitz Emory University , David W. Dionne, Jr. Edsall Washington Post , Morris P.

Fiorina Hoover Institution , William A. Galston Brookings Institution , Hahrie C. There has been enough partisan convergence albeit selective, tenuous, opportunistic, or episodic to secure key pieces of legislation. Lest we forget, the tax cut would not have passed if an abundance of Democratic senators The decline of various divisive issues, and the partisan convergence on some of them, has been observed by Dionne , pp.

Dionne notes that welfare reform was clearly one such issue for the Democrats. The earned income tax credit was one for the Republicans.

And the Republicans at the end of the Clinton years were proposing nearly as much federal spending on education as the Democrats. The composition, of course, was different. One hundred and twenty-nine Democrats sided with Republicans to create the Homeland Security behemoth.

With enough Republican defections, majorities in both chambers declined to approve a constitutional amendment barring gay marriages. Twelve Democrats sided with forty-six Republicans. This roll call was particularly striking. In the Senate, the bill garnered the votes of fortythree Democrats and forty-four Republicans. In the House, for example, twenty-seven Republicans voted against the amendment with Democrats and one independent. The vote fell forty-nine short of the required two-thirds for adoption. The twenty-seven GOP defections were enough to confirm that the gay-marriage ban would not come down to a neat party-line vote.

Forty-six Republicans, forty-three Democrats, and one independent supported the bill. Fifty Republicans sided with Democrats. The bill would allow stem cells to be derived from human embryos that have been donated from in vitro fertilization clinics, were created for the purposes of fertility treatments, or exceeded the clinical need of the individuals seeking such treatments. Even if the contemporary Congress has been productive, its deliberative process has not been pretty—and some prominent scholars are convinced that the sausage-making activities, if not the sausages themselves, are uglier now than they used to be.

Republicans, including then representative Dick Cheney, deplored this practice and called it a serious abuse of power. Since , however, House Republican leaders have sometimes held votes open for hours. See, for example, Hacker and Pierson , pp. Jamieson and Falk , p.

Norman Ornstein and Thomas E. Connelly and Pitney The end of the seniority system for committee chairmanships, for instance, is presently seen as regrettable. Ambitious members seeking these jobs tend to be hardliners who have ingratiated themselves with the party leadership. A half-century ago, though, the complaint among progressives was that Congress could not move priorities such as civil rights legislation because party leaders and caucuses were powerless to dislodge obstructionist southern chairmen of the House Rules Committee and the judiciary committees.

The minority in the th Congress, in any event, was not entirely enfeebled under the new order of things. And in the House, the Democrats, like the Republicans, empowered their leadership to discourage dissent. Stray members inclined to work too closely with the GOP were threatened with the loss of committee seats. Congressional oversight of the executive branch has faltered in the past half-dozen years. It is inaccurate, furthermore, to portray the Republican-controlled Congress as invariably supine.

How America Went Haywire - The Atlantic

A more blistering congressional critique of executive mismanagement in modern times would be hard to find. On institutional changes that have facilitated party discipline over time, see, for instance, Rohde See, for instance, on this point, Sinclair , p. House of Representatives The Medicare prescription drug provisions are cited as a particularly egregious example. But how does this charge stack up against the counterfactual? Suppose the half-trillion-dollar drug bill had not been flogged by GOP powerbrokers but crafted instead in a convivial bipartisan fashion.

It might well have emerged just as flawed—and almost certainly more extravagant. Those enactments were legendary for their unanticipated complications and consequences. The entrenched Democratic barons who dominated the legislative branch four or five decades ago were just as capable of making a hash of congressional projects as they did, with fatal consequences later on, in the flood planes of Louisiana, for instance. Four Risks To say that the impairment has been exaggerated is not to conclude, however, that there is none at all.

Increased polarization of the political parties carries at least four risks.

What causes political polarization?

First, it complicates the task of addressing certain long-range domestic policy problems, particularly the big ones that cannot be solved without altering the established distribution of benefits in the modern welfare state. Second, it can mar the implementation of a steady, resolute foreign policy and national security strategy. Third, partisan excesses can do lasting damage to vulnerable institutions, most notably the judiciary.

Finally, there is the distinct possibility that partisan antagonisms, and especially On the Community Action Program, see, for example, Moynihan On the Carter energy legislation, see Nivola For an eerie reminder of this epoch and its underside, see the extraordinary account by Michael Grunwald and Susan B. In the past dozen years, major presidential initiatives of that sort have repeatedly faltered.

Bipartisan cooperation is essential to face these daunting tasks. Inasmuch as the vendettas of polarized politicians now frustrate even the faintest semblance of bipartisan deal-making, the nation will be the worse off because of them. Ostensibly, no great difference on foreign policy sundered the parties in the campaign.

Based on their analysis of the interaction between increases in inequality and immigration, McCarty, Poole, and Rosenthal find a correlation between intensifying polarization and diminishing support for policies such as a higher minimum wage that supposedly reduce inequality. Along with other aspects of their carefully argued book, the assessment of this claim awaits scrutiny by other scholars with comparable methodological sophistication.

Rivlin and Sawhill Democratic National Committee , p.

As we reported earlier, with respect to how the United States should respond to the security threats posed by rogue states and Islamic extremism, perceptions by the party bases were worlds apart. In the murkier dilemma of how to handle Saddam Hussein, twenty-nine Democratic senators and the leading Democratic candidate in the race voted with forty-eight Republicans in October to authorize the use of force. Yet the main thing to note about such glimmers of bipartisanship is their inconstancy. Three years later, with the armed forces conducting a high-stakes counterinsurgency in Iraq, Senate Democrats voted overwhelmingly to develop a timetable for withdrawing the troops.

A course of action buffeted by polarized politicians, and tugged in contradictory directions, is no course whatsoever. In contrast, attitudes relating to religion and social issues are not nearly as important in determining party affiliation.

enter The vote on this amendment to a appropriations bill, November 15, , counted thirty-eight Democratic senators, one Republican, and one independent in favor. A polarized Congress and its retinue of strident advocacy groups are bruising the bureaucracy and the courts in a number of ways. The new interpretation of senatorial advice and consent, seemingly held by much of the parliamentary opposition, was summed up by Senate minority leader Harry M.