Polarization Is Here to Stay

A Response to "The Polarization Paradox"

By temperament I’m deeply sympathetic to Matthew Nisbet and Dietram Scheufele’s argument in "The Polarization Paradox," and welcome the unusual range of data that they have brought to bear on the subject of polarization and liberal hope, drawing on cognitive science and social psychology as well as institutional political science.

The authors’ point that “compromise and reasonableness can be every bit as potent a weapon for liberals as polarization has been for conservatives” sounds a lot like a sentence I wrote in 2007 about the emerging candidacy of Barack Obama: “Perhaps we are being too literal in thinking that ‘hope’ and bipartisanship are things that Obama naively believes are present and possible,” I wrote, “when in fact they are a tactic, a method of subverting and breaking the unified conservative power structure.”

But time has not been kind to my 2007 argument.

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