Disconnect: The Breakdown of Representation in American Politics

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University of Oklahoma Press, Nov 9, 2012 - Political Science - 376 pages
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Red states, blue states . . . are we no longer the United States? Morris P. Fiorina here examines today’s party system to reassess arguments about party polarization while offering a cogent overview of the American electorate.

Building on the arguments of Fiorina’s acclaimed Culture War? The Myth of a Polarized America, this book explains how contemporary politics differs from that of previous eras and considers what might be done to overcome the unproductive politics of recent decades. Drawing on polling results and other data, Fiorina examines the disconnect between an unrepresentative “political class” and the citizenry it purports to represent, showing how politicians have become more polarized while voters remain moderate; how politicians’ rhetoric and activities reflect hot-button issues that are not public priorities; and how politicians’ dogmatic, divisive, and uncivil style of “debate” contrasts with the more civil discourse of ordinary Americans, who tend to be more polite and open to compromise than their leaders.

Disconnect depicts politicians out of touch with the larger public, distorting issues and information to appeal to narrow interest groups. It can help readers better understand the political divide between leaders and the American public—and help steer a course for change.

 

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Contents

Chapter 1 A Disconnect in Political Positions
3
Chapter 2 Disconnects in priorities Certainty and Style
24
Chapter 3 Popular Misconceptions of Polarization
49
Chapter 4 Institutional Contributors to the Disconnect
75
Chapter 5 Social Change and Party Sorting
99
Chapter 6 Suburbs New Interest Groups and Political Adaption
122
How Unusual? How Bad?
139
Chapter 8 Reconnecting the People and Their Government
162
Epilogue
184
Appendix Problems in Measuring Legislative Polarization
193
Notes
197
Index
237
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About the author (2012)

Morris P. Fiorina is the Wendt Family Professor of Political Science at Stanford University and Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution.

Samuel J. Abrams is a doctoral candidate in the Department of Government at Harvard University and a Fellow at the Hamilton Center for Political Economy, New York University.

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