PSC 121 NCA&T Why Were Polarized a book by Ezra Klein Ch 1 2 & 3 Reflection

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puvv23

Humanities

PSC 121

North Carolina A & T State University

PSC

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Please write a 1 page, double spaced, paper that includes reflections, thoughts, critiques, and comments on the relevant chapter of Why We're Polarized a book by Ezra Klein. While a small portion of the paper can summarize the chapter, the majority should be your reflections and thoughts. This one page format should be on chapters 1,2 & 3. These chapters should be addressed separately. In total there should be 3 pages. one page identifying and covering the questions above for chapter 1 then answer those same questions and reflect on chapter 2 and lastly the same reflection guidelines for chapter 3. When all 3 chapters are complete come up with a good question for each chapter to ask the class based on the reading. The book is shown in the attachment and required for the assignment.

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Why We're Polarized Ezra Klein Chapter 1 How Democrats Became Liberals and Republicans Became Conservatives T 1 he first thing I need to do is convince you something has changed. American politics offers the comforting illusion of stability. The Democratic and Republican Parties have dominated elections since 1864, grappling for power and popularity the whole time. Scour American history and you will find Democrats and Repub- licans slandering each other, undermining each other, plotting against each other, even physically assaulting each other. *1 It is easy to cast a quick glance backward and assume our present is a rough match for our past, that the complaints we have about politics today mirror the complaints past generations had of the politics of their day. But the Democratic and Republican Parties of today are not like the Democratic and Republican Parties of yesteryear. We are living through something genuinely new. * In her remarkable history of congressional violence, The Field of Blood, historian Joanne Freeman found that "between 1830 and 1860, there were more than seventy violent incidents between congressmen in the House and Senate chambers or on nearby streets and dueling grounds." And she assures me this is a substantial undercount. 1 2 Why We're Polarized Rewind to 1950. That was the year the American Political Science Association (APSA) Committee on Political Parties released a call to arms that sounds like satire to modern ears. Entitled Towards a More Responsible Two-Party System, the ninety-eight-page paper, coauthored by many of the country's most eminent political scien- tists and covered on the front page of the New York Times, pleads for a more polarized political system. It laments that the parties contain too much diversity of opinion and work together too easily, leaving voters confused about who to vote for and why. “Unless the parties identify themselves with programs, the public is unable to make an intelligent choice between them,” warned the authors. It is difficult, watching the party-line votes and contempt for compromise that defines Congress today, to read sentences like "the parties have done little to build up the kind of unity within the congressional party that is now so widely desired” and hear the logic behind them. Summarized today, the report can sound like a call for fewer puppies and more skin fungus. But as Colgate University political scientist Sam Rosenfeld argues in his book The Polarizers: Postwar Architects of Our Par- tisan Era, there were good reasons to worry about the muddle the parties had made of midcentury American politics. The activists and politicians who worked relentlessly, over years, to bring about the polarized political system we see today had good reasons for what they did. Appreciating the logic of the polarizers'argument, alongside the wreckage produced by their success, is a bracing antidote to both a golden view of the past and overly confident prescriptions for the future.* To understand the political scientists' concerns, we need to understand the role political parties are supposed to play in a a a * It would be reasonable to keep this warning in mind when you read the solutions found in the concluding chapter of this book. Chapter 2 The Dixiecrat Dilemma O n Wednesday, August 28, 1957, during the Senate's consider- ation of a watered-down civil rights bill, Strom Thurmond walked onto the Senate floor and kicked off the most famous filibuster in American history. He began by reading the election statutes of all forty-eight states. Then he read the Declaration of Independence, the Bill of Rights, George Washington's farewell address, and much else besides. He got one bathroom break, when Barry Goldwater took the floor on his behalf. He ate cold sirloin steak and pumpernickel bread his wife had packed him and sucked on throat lozenges. At times, his voice became too weak to hear. He finished twenty-four hours and eighteen minutes later by saying he intended to vote against the legislation. His annoyed and exhausted colleagues were not surprised. Thurmond's filibuster was the longest in American history. It fills ninety-six pages in the Congressional Record. It was also one of the least effective. As Joseph Crespino recounts in Strom Thurmond's America, southern senators had spent months gut- ting the bill. They killed section 3, which permitted the attorney 3 general to bring lawsuits against discrimination in public areas. 19 Chapter 3 Your Brain on Groups n 1970, Henri Tajfel published a paper with the anodyne title “Experiments in Intergroup Discrimination.” It would prove among the most important in social psychology, and even today, it stands as one of the most unne nerving windows into the subrou- tines of the human mind. Tajfel began by recalling a Slovene friend of his detailing the stereotypes his countrymen had for Bosnian immigrants. Tajfel doesn't record what those stereotypes were, but they stuck with him. He thought he had heard them, or something like them, before. He decided to test his hunch. “Some time later I pre- sented this description to a group of students at the University of Oxford and asked them to guess by whom it was used and to whom it referred,” he writes. “The almost unanimous reply was that this was the characterization applied by native Englishmen to colored'immigrants: people coming primarily from the West Indies, India and Pakistan.” From this, Tajfel took a lesson. Discrimination varies in its tar- gets and intensity across cultures, but it is surprisingly similar in its rationalizations. Perhaps, he thought, the way we treat people 49 20 Why We're Polarized They kneecapped the voting-rights provisions by guarantee- ing a jury trial in cases of voter obstruction; no southern jury would ever convict a white election official for stopping Afri- can Americans from voting. Thurmond himself celebrated the achievements. He said they'd pulled "the most venomous teeth from the so-called civil rights bill," and he praised Democratic senators Richard Russell and Lyndon Johnson, the leaders of the effort, for “a magnificent job.” Then he decided to make their job harder. The deal Russell and Johnson had cut was that if Republicans and moderate Democrats allowed them to weaken the legislation, they would persuade their fellow southerners to permit it to pass. In the clubby Senate of the 1950s, word was bond. Keeping your end of the deal was necessary to being able to make any future pacts. If southerners killed the bill, a Johnson staffer warned, the South could lose "not only the ability to have any impact on civil rights legislation but any influence it has in Congress at all.” So the southern senators agreed: there would be no filibuster. Time magazine reported that Thurmond was “among the first to agree with the non-filibuster decision." But then the telegrams and the letters from outraged seg- regationists began. Thurmond asked Russell to reconsider an organized filibuster. Russell refused. So Thurmond filibustered on his own. He didn't imperil the bill, but he made his fellow southerners look bad. They were keeping quiet in order to sus- tain segregation. He went loud to further his career. He made it seem like he was the only senator with the courage to speak out and defend the South's racial hierarchy. “Oh God, the venomous hatred of his Southern colleagues," recalled an aide to Johnson. The courtly Russell condemned Thurmond's filibuster as an act of “personal political aggrandizement.” The bill passed Thurmond's objections. over
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Why We’re Polarized
Student’s Name
Institution Affiliation


Chapter 1: How Democrats Became Liberals and Republicans Became Conservatives



Chapter 2: The Dixiecrat Dilemma



Chapter 3: Your Brain on Groups


WHY WE’RE POLARIZED

1

Why We’re Polarized
Student’s Name
Institution Affiliation

WHY WE’RE POLARIZED

2

Chapter 1: How Democrats Became Liberals and Republicans Became
Conservatives
One of the key takeaways from Chapter 1 is that Americans have become less tolerant and
accommodating, and even politicians prioritize party politics over the nation’s wellbeing. I believe
Ezra is right that party politics and lack of tolerance pose a significant threat to our nation and
democratic values. Ezra argues that, in the past, both the Democrats and Republicans, had a weak
sense of group affiliation because none of them wanted to become ideological monoliths. Ezra
Klein claims that once the Republican and Democratic parties performed the work of liberalism
and their goal was to ensure strict adherence to and respect for the American constitution. Both
parties exhibited moderated passions, allowing people to hold the opposite party's opinion to
coexist in their parties and settle differences with compromise. Unfortunately, over the last fifty
years, Americans have plunged into partisan identities, thus tearing the bonds that hold America
together.
Based on what I have read in Chapter, I see close similarities between what Ezra Klein
claims and the reality i...


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