In this book, Ezra Klein sets out his analysis for why the US political system has become polarised. It’s well crafted and persuasive, using a raft of political, psychological and historical evidence to put weight behind his argument. I must admit, my mind was screaming REPLICATION CRISIS when he started with his first psychology study, but in almost every use of it he uses multiple examples of the same sort of technique or conclusion, which alleviated my skepticism somewhat.
It took me a bit to get into it, possibly because I was tired, probably because I am a bit over paying attention to American politics. I know it’s important and shapes world events, but it also just seems like a fever pitch apocalyptic showdown the way it’s often portrayed. But usefully, this book pointed out why – increasing polarisation begets more polarisation – and we’ve been living through some of the most polarising times in recent history.
The silver lining in all this is that the Democratic party by its nature is built on a coalition, while Trump and the Republicans rely on an every shrinking, polarised base. So, it’s entirely possible that a future Democratic landslide is in the future, which they will then hopefully implement some sort of democratic reform. Otherwise, they face a future where they will constantly win popular votes, but rarely actually be in power.
What I did really like about it was the concept of ‘identify mindfulness’ which I think particular resonated with me right now. Thinking about what about your identity media is targeting (or other people to be fair) and what you feel about being addressed in that way, what emotional triggers are they playing on. I’ve already been trying to stop caring about SO MUCH NOISE and focus on what is in my power, but sometimes it’s hard. I’d like to waste less emotional energy on things that are beyond my control, saving it for things that I think I an influence and think are important. Otherwise, I’m just going to become one big stress-monster and no one wants that.
Anyway, good read.