Why 2014 Is Already a Year of National Unity! And Why Politicians Don’t Care!

Forget Duck Dynasty, belief in
evolution, whether the Cowboys really are (or ever were) “America’s
Team,” and other divisive issues.

The simple fact is that across a broad variety of topics –
including access to abortion, pot legalization, homosexuality, and
the threat of big government – Americans are in super-strong
agreement. Isn’t it about time we recognize that?

I’ve got a new column up at Time.com
that explores that topic
and suggests why despite such agreement the GOP and Democrats – and
their minions on cable news – seem so polarized.

Here’s a snippet:

The apparently massive and unbridgeable gulfs between
Republicans and Democrats, men and women, gays and straights,
secularists and believers, rich and poor, and coastal elites and
heartland Americans are belied by data that substantial and growing
majorities of folks actually agree on a wide variety of important
social and policy issues and attitudes….

In works such as Culture War?: The Myth
of a Polarized America
 (2004) and Disconnect:
The Breakdown of Representation in American
 (2010), Stanford political scientist Morris
P. Fiorina explains that the mechanisms for selecting
candidates and party platforms reward special-interest groups that
tend to have very narrow and unrepresentative views. “A polarized
political class makes the citizenry appear polarized, writes
Fiorina, “but it is only that – an appearance.” In short, we are
faced with political choices that don’t represent our actual
attitudes toward politics. The same holds true for cable news, too,
where many talkers are former or future party apparatchiks or
pulled from archly ideological publications.

The “bulk of the American citizenry,” Fiorina cheekily suggests,
“is somewhat in the position of the unfortunate citizens of some
third-world countries who try to stay out of the crossfire while
Maoist guerillas and right-wing death squads shoot at each other.”
That’s a pretty good description of channel surfing between Rachel
Maddow and Sean Hannity or flipping between a White House presser
and a John Boehner speech, isn’t it?

Read the whole thing

from Hit & Run http://reason.com/blog/2014/01/03/why-2014-is-already-a-year-of-national-u

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