Dr. Robin Lauermann, professor of politics, edits this series

This post is the thirteenth of our new season, For Times Such as This.  If you have not yet done so, please read this season-opening post for some brief context. 

It seems impossible to turn on the news or talk about the political climate without the issue of red versus blue parties, officials and citizens arising.  Unlike the more pessimistic perspective of our prior course read – Things Are Never So Bad That They Can’t Get Worse – the author of the final book of our capstone this year offers us important insight for constructive change.  Dr. Morris Fiorina of Stanford University and its Hoover Institution is among the most renowned scholars of the political behavior of voters and members of Congress. His knack is not only brilliant insight about the developments in these areas, but also his willingness and ability to write for a general audience.

(We are fortunate to welcome him this coming fall for our annual American Democracy Lecture – more details will follow, but please save the date for Monday October 28, 2024!)

In his 2017 Unstable Majorities: Polarization, Party Sorting and Political Stalemate, Dr. Fiorina offers a clear and compelling alternative account for polarization within contemporary American politics.  Amid gridlock, acrimony and widely fluctuating policies (when passage can occur),  the idea of polarization is front and center in our system.  However, as we shall read in the analyses ahead, the causes are not what common thought would have us believe.  As a result, realistic opportunities exist to work towards an improved political climate.

If you are motivated by the video summary above and analyses that follow, a number of excellent, practical resources exist.  Here are just a few:

As capstone closed at the end of the semester, students worked in groups to apply the lessons from Fiorina t0 problem-solving reforms.  They left encouraged – and I hope you will too!  These students also participated in an amazing panel at Messiah’s Humanities Symposium in late February. Read on for the first analysis in this segment!


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