Hayward v. Marshall on the "Shattered Consensus"
Editor's Note: Below are two contrasting reviews of James Piereson's new book, Shattered Consensus: The Rise and Decline of America’s Postwar Political Order and the author’s response. Also listen to Real Clear Politics co-founder Tom Bevan and Washington Bureau Chief Carl Cannon discuss Shattered Consensus with James Piereson on their weekly radio show on SiriusXM.
The American Humpty-Dumpty
by Steven Hayward
Political polarization has become the chief topic—indeed, a near obsession—with the chattering class and “good government” types. Survey data and common- sense perception certainly testify to deep political and cultural divisions among Americans, which contribute to political gridlock in Washington and in many state capitals. But is there anything really new about our polarization? Are we more sharply or deeply divided than we were, say, in 1968, when student protestors virtually hounded Lyndon Johnson out of office with “Hey, hey, LBJ—how many kids did you kill today?” Read more.
Who Will Break the Spell of Polarization?
by Will Marshall
Republicans are frequently blamed for America’s intensifying political polarization, and not without cause. Surveys show that they have moved farther to the right than Democrats have to the left and are less disposed to political compromise. The GOP also benefits more from polarization, in that it induces paralysis in Washington. For conservatives who see the federal government as a wealth- and liberty-destroying Leviathan, political obstruction is no vice. Read more.
Author James Piereson Responds
I appreciate these two thoughtful reviews by Steven Hayward and Will Marshall. Each has forced me to think and reexamine my arguments. I understand that there are rival partisan views of the current scene—that some Democrats see Republicans as extreme and President Obama as a moderate, and that some Republicans see Obama as an extremist and themselves as practical reformers. There is little point in trying to settle those arguments here; perhaps the voters at some point will settle it for us. Read more.
Real Clear Politics Interview on SiriusXM