The Impact of Polarization

A passionate moderate politics isn’t just about promoting moderate policy outcomes. It is more fundamentally about moving beyond the current polarized political environment so we can make productive changes for the benefit of our nation, whether those changes are liberal, conservative, or centrist. When the system itself is broken (or at least severely ailing), individual policy victories aren’t enough. Besides being too infrequent, they emerge too warped by the broken system to be very useful, whatever their core motivating principles may be.

A few weeks ago, in an editorial for, Professor William Howell of the University of Chicago said this about the broader consequences of out current polarized political climate:

It fosters a broader political environment in which compromise invites ridicule, in which pragmatists are presumed to lack conviction, and in which each political faction is convinced not merely that it is right, but that those who disagree with it are stupid, evil or both.

And, of course, this phenomenon doesn’t limit itself to politics proper. Instead, our hyper-partisan environment elevates political labels among the other personal identifiers we carry around with us, so that politics seems to be everywhere and always. Seeing opponents as “stupid, evil or both” because the default in too many of our interactions.

Dean Dad at Confessions of a Community College Dean highlighted one example of this spill-over effect in a post that come (coincidentally) a few hours before Pres. Obama released his long-form birth certificate. (I’ll leave my thoughts on that little incident for another post, if you’re interested.) Dean Dad’s a good example of someone committed to the principles of moderation in the spheres of education and administration.

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