Is Depolarization Really Possible? A Conversation with Ezra Klein on the Better Angels Podcast

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Ciaran talks to Ezra Klein about the state of our public conversation, viewpoint diversity on college campuses, the rise of the intellectual dark web, and whether Better Angels can truly find values that meaningfully connect Americans across ideological differences.

Find the Better Angels Podcast on Apple and Spotify.

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6 thoughts on “Is Depolarization Really Possible? A Conversation with Ezra Klein on the Better Angels Podcast”

  1. I really think the answer to this problem is a turn-based political system. I emailed Andrew Yang’s team on this idea and have thought about this extensively. For some reason, each political party in America seems to be bent on obliterating the other party, and the stakes keep getting higher and higher. What we need is a fair and equal system – as I’ve been repeating over and over again.

    To have a fair and equal system we need to stop this “political war” we have every 4 years and create a turn based system. We recognize there are two major political parties in America, the Democrats and Republicans, neither of them is going anywhere. The solution is a turn based system. The Republicans get 8 years in the White House, with a re-election at the midway 4 year mark, but the new President elected would need to be a Republican during the Republican cycle. Then during the 8 year Democrat cycle, there would be one mid-term election at 4 years which would also require a Democrat to be elected during the Democratic cycle.

    This would remove the “fear” that the Republicans or the Democrats would control the White House for an extended period of time and try to wipe out the opposing party. Currently there seems to be this kind of agenda or “King of the Hill” type of game going on in politics, where each side is trying to see who can stay on top of the hill the longest.

    It’s like watching two children fight over their toy – the White House. We need to pass some grown up legislation to teach them to share their toy and play fairly together. I realize that isn’t the nicest way to explain the situation, but it’s accurate in the way I’m viewing things right now – and it’s sad to see.

  2. Ival Secrest

    I listened to your podcast and applaud your efforts to depolarize our society. First, to find a viable solution to any problem it is necessary to define and isolate the sources of the problem. Otherwise, you will likely be dealing with symptoms of the problem and not necessarily the problem. I am neither blue nor red, I am neither liberal nor conservative, I am neither Democrat nor Republican, I am an individual. I shed the shackles of a political party several years ago and that has allowed me to have a more objective view of the political world. Full disclosure, I am a retired Federal employee and have some understanding as to what it looks like from inside the government.
    Here are some possibilities for consideration as potential sources of the problem.
    1. The labeling of people by politicians, by people involved in campaigns, by journalists, and by political pundits. Maybe you may want to call them out when it happens regardless of who they are. Remember how Presidential Candidate Clinton labeled Trump supporters. President Trump assigns monikers to many of his political opponents.
    2. Getting elected to Congress, to a legislature, as President, or as a Governor is all about power to control the domain (country, state, …). Both the Republican and Democrat parties fund targeted campaigns to unseat a Congressional Representative or Senator to wrest power from the other party. You may want to call out every instance where a party does this. It is my opinion that this practice does more to undermine our democratic process that the recent Russian attempt to undermine it; because the allegiance of Representatives and Senators will be to their political party instead of their constituents.
    3. There was a time when a Congressional leader worked hard to get the minority party to support legislation by making comprises. It was an unwritten policy that was mostly followed whereby a majority leader would not allow a vote until they had support from the minority party. Mike Mansfield, former majority leader, was outspoken about this. You mention in the podcast that President Obama was a polarizing figure. A prime example of possibly why that is the case is when he and majority leader Harry Reid pushed through the Affordable Care Act without any Republican votes.
    4. Another item that is very polarizing is the fact that Climate Change has become a political issue without the proposed solutions being tested to assure the voting public that their money will be well spent. The science associated with Climate Change is very polluted with politics. People who ask tough questions are labeled as deniers by people who most likely do not have much of an understanding of the science used to provide Climate Change assessments so the conversation ends. The result is another wedge in the polarization complex.
    5. Another wedge that added fuel to the polarization fire and continues to add fuel as Democrats attempt to show that President Trump obstructed justice. It is now becoming obvious that the Russian Investigation may well have been an effort to overturn the results of an election.
    It is my opinion that the primary problem is Congress because the leaders refuse to put the country ahead of their quest for power.
    Sincerely,
    Ival Secrest

    1. I generally agree. The professional political class has a “ball” at public expense.
      In terms of degree/frequency of corruption, I accept that Dems are generally worse, but not by much. Don’t believe me? Watch “Rhinos” in action!
      Capacity/“reach”/expense of national government is too “d**n vast! Best approach: we reclaim founders’ Constitutional Federalist design. Leave defense and “borders” (!) to Washington DC – devolve real responsibility/power on most else to states/local citizen-voters.
      Stephen Mayo

  3. I wonder to what degree our two-party system is a key culprit in polarization. If we had “ranked choice voting,” which would enable voters to vote for third party candidates w/out the fear of squandering their vote, this would make third parties viable and could, perhaps, defuse the Dem v GOP polarization.

  4. Two Wonks speak Wonk.

    As a sometimes wonk, it was interesting to me for the most part. However, after a while it exposes the reason many Americans dislike what is called political dialogue by media, whether mass or social. Listen to the language, the complexities, the name dropping, and the acronyms used in this Podcast.

    Do these 2 know their audience?

    Will political wonks/academics (right and left) ever understand the need for realistic conversations that inspire citizen’s to listen to political podcasts? Will they ever learn the lesson of shorter declarative sentences? Hillary didn’t. Trump did.

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