Looking at the Election Through Polarized Lenses?

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  • Included in: Comment
  • Published: September 29, 2016
  • Publisher: Cardus

What kind of pluralists do we want to be? Most of the time when we talk about the political challenge of pluralism, we are really talking about something else: polarization. Pluralism assumes that deep diversity is a fact of public life. It envisions public squares filled with citizens whose attitudes, values, and even worldviews diverge in myriad ways. The goal of pluralism—its normative aspiration—is to build a common life out of that dizzying diversity. Politics, of course, is a key mechanism for achieving that goal. But the political response to the challenge of pluralism is most often to flatten diversity into just a few partisan attachments that are easier to manage and mobilize. And these attachments are most potent when they are polarized—that is, when they result in ever-deeper divisions that move people to the ideological extremes.



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