The Polarization Of America 's Political Parties

916 Words Apr 6th, 2016 4 Pages
In Chapter 8 of his book Red State, Blue State, Rich State, Poor State, Gelman discusses the polarization of America’s political parties. It is often stated that America is becoming more polarized, but the only evidence thus far is that politicians are the ones who are actually further apart. People complain that polarization is breaking the country apart and impeding government action. On the other hand, polarization does have certain benefits in that it makes it easier for uniformed voters to easily select candidates. The author develops ways to measure political divisions and arguments to determine if division in America is a real phenomenon. Gelman does this because he wants to determine if it is the voters, the politicians, or both who are polarized in contemporary society and if it is actually increasing.
At a basic level, since the 1970s, Republican and Democrat voters have taken a progressively adverse view of the other party’s members. To further measure polarization, the author defines three types of polarization: partisan polarization, opinion radicalization, and issue alignment. Partisan polarization is the sorting of people into the two major parties in the US, which now has all liberals and all conservatives in separate parties. This is unlike the southern Democrats and liberal Republicans in the past. Opinion radicalization is the process in which people gravitate away from the political center to more extreme positions. The author states that this effect…
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