Pernicious Partisanship for Starters

Frazer Rice and I have been recording these podcasts for several months now and we think we have learned a few things along the way. Well, at least we sure hope so.

We think beginning with an article and building our conversation from there works best. In today’s case, the launching pad was a story by Susan Page in USA Today. It was called “Divided we fall? Americans see our angry political debate as “a big problem.”

One of the longest-time and most loyal followers of both LibertyPell and the Pundificator (he opens every email, clicks on virtually every story and has listened to most of the podcasts) made a suggestion that would be hard to implement.

He would like to be able to skip around in a 30-minute podcast and listen only to the bits that were of greatest interest. Hmmm. I am not sure what to do about that, but I am a listener to any techies with suggestions.

Here is a list of the things Frazer and I discussed, which I hope will be a modest attempt to guide my loyal friend on his way.

  • The Divided America — Is “Partisanship” as bad as it feels?
  • Centrists as the new radicals
  • Rancor fatigue
  • Is the skill of nuanced debate a lost art?
  • Strong (economic) motivations for polarized parties
  • Does Instagram fame lead to argumentative success?
  • Has the middle of the bell curve been sacrificed to the concept of long tail (niche) marketing?
  • Does cable viewership really tell you what the middle of the bell curve is thinking?
  • Running out of money in the political process?
  • Overemphasis on political fundraising
  • Parallels in hiring – would you use the political process to hire someone?
  • Is the popularity contest a good proxy for the skills in the job?
  • 69% of Americans deal with disagreements in a destructive way and it’s getting worse.
  • Public accountability for one’s online presence . . .
  • Philip Howard — has the country devolved toward mindless compliance? Can individuals be responsible for their own thoughts?
  • Outcomes vs Rules-Based rulemaking?
  • Has compliance culture created anger in the constituents AND the regulators? Am I only allowed to do what I’m told?
  • Political parties as businesses. Third Parties . . . Duopolies protecting themselves. Ross Perot. John Anderson. Jill Stein. Bloomberg and the ill-fated “path to the math.”
  • Americans Elect and the attempt to break the duopoly
  • Trust in expertise when you can’t know everything yourself
  • Honest science or at least an honest description of what is known or not known

Shout outs especially to the work of Philip Howard and to Americans Elect.

Here is a link to the podcast. I hope you enjoy it and please keep the feedback coming.

Note: we recorded this podcast in December well before the campaigns had evolved as they have and also well before the need for competence and getting things done had become so apparent.




2 Responses to “Pernicious Partisanship for Starters”

Peter W Bragdon, March 19, 2020 at 3:13 pm said:

Does President Trump’s noontime show create believers — believers that this team is right on top of the situation? I just returned from a great hospital up in Dover, NH — Wentworth Douglass Hospital — the nurses who took care of my chemo said that serious shortages are limiting their care? Reports like these are coming in from many sources.


Haven Pell, March 19, 2020 at 6:22 pm said:

I try not to watch the political TV shows and, unfortunately, the daily press briefing is now one of them. Glad your caregivers are helping you.


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