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Sender: Charles Wisoff
Subject: Re: Where Does Polarization Come From?
Date: Fri, May 16, 2014
Msg: 100984

Hi all,

A while ago I read an interesting reportpublished by the Stennis Center (named after former Congressman John C. Stennis) about the causes of polarization. The Stennis Center convenes congressional staff fellows from across party lines. The fellows from the 112 Congress convened in roundtables and retreats spanning two years and consulted with a number of experts to produce this report. Whether or not you agree with their conclusions, it's definitely worth reading at least to get a picture of what hill staffers think about the issue:

Also, as a quick response to Rick: I, personally, don't think that a single policy proposal, such as cap-and-prioritize, will ever solve a problem as complex as the polarization of this country. And I think that policy proposals, by definition, are not *root *causes. Root causes are *general underlying reasons *for a given problem, policy proposals are *specific solutions *for such a problem. Cap-and-prioritize might address some of the root causes of polarization, but it (or the lack of it as a policy) is not a root cause itself.

best regards, Charlie Wisoff -- Charles Wisoff Research Assistant Kettering Foundation 444 North Capitol St., NW Suite 434 Washington, DC 20001 202-393-4478

On Fri, May 16, 2014 at 12:22 PM, Rick Raddatz wrote:

> Yes, but why do the silos exist? > > The two biggest silos are the left and right. And I believe these silos > exist because nobody has united the parallel pursuits of ideal social > justice and ideal freedom under a single vision of government. > > My hope is that once the left and right see that cap-and-prioritize unites > the parallel pursuits of ideal social justice and ideal freedom, the silos > will crumble and we will find a new issue to divide us. > > - Rick Raddatz > Http:// > > > > On May 16, 2014, at 7:46 AM, millershed@EARTHLINK.NET wrote: > > My take is that polarization is a symptom of the underlying (and > increasing) siloization (hope that's a word) of our society. In a complex > system, the parts are interconnected through webs of feedback loops. This > is what distinguishes a group that knows one another and has formed > relationships (which is a compelx system) from a group that is suddenly > thrown together--like a crowd--that doesn't have much in the way of > relationships (and which is a collection of fragments rather than a true > system). A collection of fragments will exhibit chaotic behavior, while a > complex system maintains a dynamic equilibrium (a flexible order). > > So the question is, why do we increasingly live in our own silos, > communicating with and relating to only those who are most like us? (Which, > BTW, results in positive (amplifying, as in snowball effects) feedback > loops within those silos, or what you might call radicalization, because > there is no reality check on their ideas and values from outside their > silo, since they don't really live outside their silo and can just view the > rest of the world as aberrant and misguided, and therefore ignore and > condemn it. We see this everywhere today.) > > By answering the question of what drives and sustains siloization, we can > look for ways in which non-siloization (a really awesome word!) can be > encouraged. That, I think, would be the best thing an effective > transpartisan movement could do. I don't think there's one answer to this > question, but a range of many answers, from small to large, from the very > local (and even personal) to the macro. And the real trick is acting > simultaneously in many ways, on many levels, in a somewhat coordinated > fashion (facilitated by frequent and effective communication amongst the > various parts or members of the system)--something that an effective > transpartisan movement could help to do. > > John Miller > (952) 887-2763 > Green Tea Party Movement > > -----Original Message----- > From: Rick Raddatz > Sent: May 15, 2014 4:10 PM > To: TRANSPARTISAN@LISTS.THATAWAY.ORG > Subject: Re: [TRANSPARTISAN] Where Does Polarization Come From? > > I would like to offer a dissenting opinion. > > The first rule of blame is that the thing being blamed has to be > changeable. > > This article fails that test because activists are going to exist as long > as humans exist. > > The second rule of blaming is that the thing you are complaining about > must be something bad. > > Thus article fails that test because polarization is not clearly a bad > thing. E.g., If it's true that both sides have a piece of the puzzle, then > polarization is a necessary phase on the way towards solving the problem. > > - Rick Raddatz > Founder, Http:// > > > > On May 15, 2014, at 1:26 PM, Brian Sullivan > wrote: > > Where Does Polarization Come From? > > From the Daily Dish, a blog by Andrew Sullivan (no relation) > > > > Hans Noel tries to answer the question: > > Members of Congress are not polarized because voters are now better > sorted. And voters are not polarized simply because legislators now are. > The missing piece is ideological activists, who now dominate the political > parties. In short, policy demanders. These politically engaged activists > are the base that legislators are increasingly playing to, because they are > the ones who provide campaign resources and who threaten primary > challenges. Their polarization also filters to voters, through elected > officials but also through the media and informal networks. (And > ultimately, these activists themselves may be polarized because elite > political thinkers are polarized, but you don't have to buy that story to > believe that activists are important.) Of course, studying legislative and > mass polarization is very important, but its far from the center of the > story. > > Seth Masket adds that almost no one "gets into politics with the goal of > driving the parties further apart." Instead, he argues, individuals "get > involved in politics usually because they want the government to do > something different from what it's currently doing": > > Activists have become better at this over time. They're increasingly > organizing over a broader range of issues and they've become adept at > getting political parties to adopt their stances, making it even harder for > politicians to resist them. This isn't necessarily a bad thing. Indeed, > this is how governing ideas are generated and translated into law. But it's > important to remember that the parties aren't far apart because people hate > each other; they're far apart because people want the government to do > things. This is why exhortations for common ground tend to fall on deaf > ears. People favor compromise in principle, except on the one thing that > drove them into politics in the first place. > > Julia Azari partially blames growing polarization on growing distrust of > government: > > [P]artisanship and declining trust in government have become mutually > reinforcing. In my research, I find that mistrust of governing institutions > (I focus on the presidency, although I think we can all agree that Congress > has not been immune to this) emerged around the same time that the parties > began to sort ideologically in response to the collapse of the New Deal > coalition and the rise of cultural issues on the agenda. These began -- in > the late 1960s -- as distinct phenomena. But as time went on, they became > intertwined. A general lack of reverence and respect for the office of the > presidency -- not without good reason after Watergate and Vietnam -- have > merged with party polarization to create an environment in which presidents > tend to be divisive, rather than uniting figures. They also tend, as I > argue in the book, to rely more on language that appeals to their > supporters and their campaign promises, which does little to alleviate the > problem. In turn, these developments shape the incentives of individual > members of Congress, who have increasingly little reason to collaborate > across party lines. > > -- > > Brian Sullivan > Practical Evolution, LLC > San Francisco, CA USA > 011 415.305.3651 > > Perth, WA AU > 61 8 9467 4445 > Producer of CivicEvolution > > > > > ------------------------------ > > To unsubscribe from the TRANSPARTISAN list, click the following link: > > > > ------------------------------ > > To unsubscribe from the TRANSPARTISAN list, click the following link: > > > > FB: green tea party movement > Home: (952) 887-2763 > Cell (952) 797-2302 > > > ------------------------------ > > To unsubscribe from the TRANSPARTISAN list, click the following link: > > > > ------------------------------ > > To unsubscribe from the TRANSPARTISAN list, click the following link: > >

-- Charles Wisoff Research Assistant Kettering Foundation 444 North Capital St. NW Washington D.C., 20001


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