Great Issues—Miller Center

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Great Issues

Broken Government? Politics and Polarization

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William Galston

This interview stems from “Polarization in a Historical Perspective,” filmed at the Miller Center in 2014. Click to watch full event video.


Americans Have “Sorted Themselves Out” - William Galston explains that in contrast to popular belief, partisan gerrymandering accounts for only a third of the polarization in the United States. Over the last forty years, the number of swing states has decreased and people have “sorted themselves out,” presenting challenges for reversing the trend of polarization in American politics.

Cable News is the Effect, Not the Cause - William Galston discusses the effects of cable news on the increasing polarization in the United States. He cautions against attributing too much responsibility to the changes in the media landscape.

How Did the United States Become So Polarized? - In the early 1960s, there was largely a consensus between the Democrats and Republicans. However, as William Galston explains, over the next 15 years, the post-World War II consensus was dissolved and the United States was left with the fractured political system of today.

The Historical Context of American Cycles of Polarization - William Galston discusses the historical cycles of polarization in American politics. Galston suggests that one could make a strong comparison between the contemporary American political landscape and that of the 1890s.

The Increasing Polarization of the American Electorate - William Galston explains how the increased partisanship in Washington reflects the polarization of the American electorate more broadly.

The Problem with a “Politics of Mobilization” - According to William Galston, the use of technology has allowed American political campaigns to become more individualized. This has led to the replacement of a “politics of persuasion” with what he calls a “politics of mobilization.”

William Kristol

This interview stems from “Polarization in a Historical Perspective,” filmed at the Miller Center in 2014. Click to watch full event video.


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