Political Science Research Paper

Topic: Is the current state of polarized partisanship healthy for democracy?

Contents

Introduction. 1

Overview of polarized partisanship in US politics. 2

Impact of negative advertising on political participation. 4

Polarized partisanship and political participation: The question of voter turnout 6

Changing trends in perceptions of differences between major presidential candidates. 9

The role of the media in the era of party polarization. 10

Polarization and religion in the US. 12

Polarized partisanship: An indication of a malfunctioning political system.. 14

Impact of polarization on the judiciary. 15

Conclusions. 18

Works Cited. 20

Introduction

            Today, one of the dominant debates in America is the partisan nature of the country’s politics. Some people believe that partisanship is inevitable while others argue that it is not. Meanwhile, many people express the feeling that too much partisanship is not healthy for democracy in America as it leads to polarization. They argue that it may be destructive, mainly because Americans may start to think that they live in two different nations.

            During the 2008 presidential election, the issue of partisanship was a dominant topic. The country was divided into two camps: democrats and republicans. This partisanship is not strange in the US. However, in 2008, many people got concerned about the deep divisions along these two parties (Nivola and Brady 2). This was evident in the way people talked more about the two parties than about the issues affecting the nation. Democrats launched verbal attacks against Republicans and vice versa. However, each candidate promised to rise above these partisan differences when elected in order to unite all Americans (Nivola and Brady 2).

During the presidential elections of 2008 and 2012, a phenomenon of polarized partisanship was experienced across the US. This paper sets out to establish whether the current state of polarized partisanship is healthy for democracy in the US. The thesis of this paper is that the current state of polarized partisanship is not healthy for democracy, although it could be beneficial for democracy to have different poles of opinions. 

Overview of polarized partisanship in US politics

            Academics and commentators agree that the recent US political environment has been characterized by ideological extremism. It may be argued that such ideological extremism is an indication of competition, which is one of the defining elements of the American democracy. One of the main issues addressed in this regard is whether people’s preferences are moving towards ideological poles or most voters continue to remain moderate. For the sake of democracy, it is important for different poles of opinions to exist.

            In recent years, starker differences between adherents of the Democratic Party and the Republican Party continue to emerge. This is one of the main indicators of polarized partisanship in the US. However, it may be argued that such differences are elements of party-sorting and not polarization. This debate has led to the emergence of the concepts of popular polarization and party polarization. To some, the emergence of starker differences along party lines is an indication of party polarization and not popular polarization.

            It is also common for polarization in the US to be associated with ideological elites (Druckman, Peterson, & Slothuus 65). In an environment where majority of the citizens are consistently moderate, it becomes difficult for people to deal with the extreme choices they are forced to confront. They are confronted by such choices through different means such as negative advertising, which tends to be produced by polarized elites. It tends to energize the masses, thereby increasing the intensity of the election campaigns. In such a situation, it is evident that the real challenge to the health of the US democracy is the lack of a link between the ideology of the mass and that of the elite. A relevant question in this regard is on whether the US citizens have become more participatory or less participatory. The debate also focuses on whether the government has become more responsive because of this polarization. Similarly, citizens ponder over whether this phenomenon has made them trust their government more.

            Today, it seems that the American citizens have responded positively to the prevailing environment of polarization. However, they seem to dislike the negative rhetoric that accompanies this environment. This is evident in the fact that there is increased political participation. However, a major problem is that the measures of political participation that are normally relied on are sometimes misleading. This is because the highly aggregated data relied upon for such analysis may also be misleading.

            In several ways, polarized partisanship is unhealthy for the US democracy. The unhealthy aspects manifest themselves when polarization of opinion on the basis of political trust and political efficacy becomes the exception rather than the rule (Nivola and Brady 2). When a half of the country’s moderate electorate fails to turn out to vote, it may be true to say that polarized partisanship is becoming problematic for democracy in the US.

            In recent elections, a lot of focus has been on explaining the impact of polarization. For example, during the 2006 midterm elections, Washington press corps declared that moderation had triumphed over extremism. When the citizens were provided with moderate options, they tended to choose those moderate leaders over their extremist counterparts. However, a different story emerges when the 2006 senate elections are compared with those of 2000. From this perspective, it is evident that moderates failed to turn out in large numbers compared to ideologues with the aim of seizing back control of Congress.

During the 2006 elections, most moderates voted against Republicans because they felt that they had become failures. The impression here is that most citizens without any ideological anchor are more interested in ends than in means. If they were more interested in means, their main reason for voting against Republicans would have been the perception of being too ideological. In a society where moderates historically seem to have no problem with successful ideologues, the contemporary trend towards polarized partisanship is worrying. It creates the impression that these moderates will start to put aside the success factor. Instead, they may start to put into consideration the ideological nature of candidates as a yardstick for deciding whether to vote for them. If this happens, polarization will have turned out to be unhealthy for the democracy.

Impact of negative advertising on political participation

The impact of polarized partisanship on political participation has also become a dominant debate in recent times. Polarization increases negative advertising. The question therefore may be on whether negative advertising encourages people to vote or whether it makes many voters to shun the ballot. The fact is that many Americans detest the extent to which the negative tone continues to dominate election campaigns through advertising.

One of the main arguments raised is that negative advertising activates more partisans. This means that it propagates the culture of polarized partisanship. The main problem in this regard is that it might also demobilize independents. Independents are highly likely to grow weary of the mudslinging and negative rhetoric. Demobilizing independents is not a good thing for the American democracy. These unaligned voters are of utmost importance to the country’s democracy. Negative advertising diminishes their perceptions of responsiveness on the part of the government as well as political efficacy, thereby influencing them to refrain from voting.

However, some people may argue that negative advertising should not have any impact on voter turnout. The gist of argument in this case is that if anything, it should increase voter turnout. Moreover, it is contended that although positive information may be scanty in an environment of negative advertising, this very practice encourages people to learn more about the political process in their country. In other words, it promotes political thinking. However, it is not clear whether the electorate actually succeed in finding out the truth about the various issues being discussed once they set out to do so.

To understand the impact of negative advertising better, one must delve deeper into the mobilization hypothesis as well as the demobilization hypothesis (Nivola and Brady 4). In these two hypotheses, the assumption made runs contrary to conventional wisdom: it is assumed that negativity stimulates voter turnout regardless of the complaints expressed by Americans regarding this phenomenon.

Another dominant issue is on whether negative advertising drives Americans towards ideological poles and the impact that this would have on democracy. About half of the Americans belong to the moderate category; at least they do not align themselves with any side of the ideological scale (Nivola and Brady 4). Any move towards the ideological poles may lead to the perception of alienation among non-ideologues and moderates. Incidentally, this is precisely what has been happening in recent years. The non-ideologues and moderates may start to feel that they do not have much in common with either of the two dominant sides. This is unhealthy for democracy in the US.

For democracy to thrive, such different poles of opinions are necessary. The only problem that would require to be addressed is the alienation on the part of non-ideologues and moderates. This problem may be addressed in two ways. One of them is to develop a political culture where there is a dominant third force comprising of independents. The moderates may feel more inclined to move towards the independents. This third force would greatly help in keeping the excesses of the two dominant poles under check. The second option is for the moderates to align themselves with either of the two poles of opinion.

Polarized partisanship and political participation: The question of voter turnout

            One of the most serious concerns in today’s era of polarized partisanship is voter apathy. Voter apathy is arguably the most crucial indicator of a lack of political participation in a country. To appreciate the importance of voter participation, it may be worthwhile to point out that the 2000 presidential election in the US was decided by only 537 votes. This made Americans to realize that every single vote counts and that a single voter can make a difference in a presidential election. In 2000, in a country with millions of voters, 537 voters made a huge difference for President George W. Bush.

            Today, persistently low turnout rates are a major concern in the US. The centrist public seems to be staying away from the ballot because of the lost connection with the country’s ideological elite. The centrist public seems to be dissatisfied with the way the ideological elite takes over the political environment whenever the election draws closer. The problem is not so much about the take-over; rather, it is about the failure by the ideological elite to address the serious issues faced by the public. On the most part, the ideological elite distort facts for political convenience. In most cases, this works to the disadvantage of the leftist public.

            A critical issue to address at this point is the extent to which polarization increases (or decreases) voter turnout and political participation. The issue of turnout has been a major concern, particularly between 1960s and 1990s when it decreased from 63 percent to 50 percent turnout (Nivola and Brady 80). However, since 1996, voter turnout has been increasing. This coincides with a trend in which the level of polarized partisanship has been increasing. During the time when the turnout was decreasing, Democrats and Republicans were becoming uncommonly close in terms of ideology. This created the impression that although polarized partisanship is not healthy for democracy, it is advantageous for two poles of opinions to exist. These two poles create political competition. In such a situation, more people turn out to vote in order to render political support to the ideas that they like.

            In 1996, voter turnout was 52 percent (Nivola and Brady 79). In 2006, the turnout surged to over 60 percent (Nivola and Brady 79). During the same time, polarization increased dramatically. The voting-eligible population percentage in 2004 was the same as that of the mid-1950s (Nivola and Brady 5). This positive indicator shows that the polarized environment is not turning off eligible voters. According to Nivola and Brady, this is something that people who are concerned about the polarization of politics in the US should celebrate (5).

However, one must bear in mind that this recent surge in voter turnout is not symmetric. Although ideologues may have more choices because of the emergence of many ideological candidates, moderates are likely to be more inclined to resort to voter apathy. Nevertheless, it is difficult to determine the real extent to which polarization influences turnout. Moreover, in self-reported turnout, Americans are notorious for indicating that they voted even when they did not (Nivola and Brady 79).

The increase in turnout in recent years may be attributed partly to the fact that the factors that determine the likelihood of people to vote remain unchanged. The increase in voter turnout seems to have occurred at a time when more people feel the need to influence the voting patterns of others. This tendency to influence others takes many forms. Some Americans do so while attending political meetings while others do so by working for a candidate or party of their choice. For a long time, this trend has remained constant. It seems not to have been influenced by the recent trend towards polarized partisanship.

During the 2004 election, many Americans felt compelled to demonstrate their support for candidates and parties of their choice by displaying a bumper sticker, wearing a button or donating money to a campaign. These forms of participation may be traced  back to 1952. In today’s era of polarization, Americans seem to have developed a tendency to achieve political involvement through different means. This increase in the level of participation has particularly been evident among non-ideologues and moderates. In this regard, they seem to be making concerted efforts to catch up with the high level of participation that is historically associated with liberals and conservatives. The impression created is that instead of demobilizing moderates and non-ideologues, party polarization has stimulated them.

In an environment where party polarization has led to the emergence of ideologically charged political environment, many Americans are concerned about whether any threats are being posed to the country’s democracy. The reality of the matter is that the choices offered within the political system are changing. It is imperative for Americans to realize this and make appropriate responses. Presently, this seems like a bad thing because a large section of Americans are poorly informed about the country’s politics. They have no sufficient knowledge of the people whose names appear on the ballot on Election Day. It is unhealthy for polarized partisanship to thrive in an environment of such a high degree of ignorance about politics.

Changing trends in perceptions of differences between major presidential candidates

Ignorance about politics greatly influences the extent to which voters perceive differences between presidential candidates of major political parties. For instance, moderates and non-ideologues did not perceive major differences between Republican Presidential candidate George W. Bush and Democratic Party candidate John Kerry. On the other hand, liberals and conservatives did not perceive major differences between these two candidates. This was unlike during the presidential elections of the previous decade in which Republicans and Democrats perceived huge ideological differences between their respective presidential candidates.

These perceptions matter a lot since they greatly influence voter turnout. When a voter feels strongly about a candidate of his choice, he is more likely to set aside some time in his or her busy schedule to stand in the queue, wait patiently, and vote. This is particularly the case in matters relating to foreign policy. Indeed, the issue of foreign policy may have greatly influenced voter turnout in 2000 and 2004. There is no doubt that it has greatly contributed to party polarization. The issue of foreign policy remains a more influential factor in presidential elections today than during the 1990s.

Many political leaders point out to the dynamics triggered by the September 11 attacks. Terrorism is a relatively new issue in the US. For this reason, the country’s citizens have had no opportunity to follow up on the views of candidates regarding the issue over a long time. This is one of the reasons most Americans did not discern major differences between the candidatures of George W. Bush and John Kerry. It is worthwhile to point out that terrorism was a major issue during the 2004 elections and both candidates spent a lot of time discussing it.

During the 1984 presidential election, Ronald Reagan had managed to build an image of a dedicated anticommunist. For this reason, the public was able to perceive large differences between him and his challenger. Such a phenomenon did not emerge in 2004, probably because Americans had not yet gotten an opportunity to follow up on the trends demonstrated by political leaders with regard to the issue of terrorism. If the level of ignorance about politics was lower, perhaps the differences between the two candidates would have been exhibited more candidly as far as their views on terrorism are concerned

Surprisingly, partisanship seems to have created a scenario where no major differences between the liberals and conservative presidential candidates are highlighted. This is not healthy for democracy in the US. Without clear ideological differences, the spirit of competition may not thrive. Different poles of opinion are needed for all citizens to engage in lively discussions before settling on the most appropriate option. After all, attitudes and perceptions constitute a major component of any presidential election. Moreover, when citizens who are ignorant about politics see no major differences between the views of liberals and those of conservatives, they are highly likely to continue avoiding the political debate.

The role of the media in the era of party polarization

The media plays a critical role in a democracy. In the US, the media has traditionally been influential since it provides news and information to the public. The role of the media has been at the heart of the rapid increase in the level of polarization over the last few years. This polarization is more common with the elite, although it has lately been trickling down to ordinary voters at an alarming rate. This phenomenon has led many people to agonize over the possible causes of this turn of events. One of the areas that these people turn to is the media.

The media is frequently being blamed for polarizing the country. In light of such accusations, it is imperative for focus to shift towards the role of the media. In the early twentieth century, the media, particularly newspapers, used to operate more or less as party mouthpieces or party organs (Nivola & Brady 17). In this sense, they therefore exhibited more polarizing tendencies than today. However, with the emergence of a greater sense of professionalism among journalists, there is a greater devotion to neutrality and objectivity. These polarizing tendencies are therefore not present. Today, very few media houses identify themselves with the Republican Party of the Democratic Party. Rather, they only tend to portray an ideological slant that makes them seem to lean on either side of the political divide. In other words, they have set themselves apart from all political parties. This is evident in the fact that these media houses rarely become bitterly critical of certain political parties (Nivola & Brady 17).

However, the environment of a polarizing media has been replaced by that of a highly opinionated media. This may partly be attributed to the ongoing revolution in information technology. New media outlets and forms have emerged. The cable television was the first to emerge, followed closely by the emergence of the internet. Today, millions of people get news not from TV but via the blogosphere. In this situation, people have more opportunities for broadcasting their opinions and sharing them with the world. The reality is that the media has not become more polarizing today than it was during the early twentieth century; rather, people have acquired more opportunities for broadcasting and telecasting their opinions (Nivola & Brady 19).

A media that causes party divisions becomes injurious to democracy. It is difficult to think of the level of polarized partisanship in the US today without implicating the media. Indeed, one would expect the media to be raising the red flag on the issue of polarization and give editorial opinions which, if enacted, would improve the situation. However, the media is simply delivering what people are genetically inclined to desire: partisanship and conflict. Evolutionary-psychology research shows that human beings always tend to have a preference for conflict over consensus (Nivola & Brady 19). In other words, uncivil discourse gets more appraisals from the public than civil discourse. From this perspective, it may be argued that the media is simply responding to demand in the quest to remain relevant.

From the point of view of democracy, one may argue that polarization has increased because citizens have assumed the role of editors. This is unlike in the past when editors chose what the readers would see. Americans have to make sense of their world all by themselves. This leads to the emergence of many dissenting views, thereby increasing polarization. In the past, citizens were facing the problem of too little information; today, they confront the “problem” of too much information. With too much information that is readily available, the media has lost most of its power to shape public opinion. This is unhealthy for democracy. By shaping public opinion, the media brings people together to discuss specific topical issues. By pulling the public towards specific issues, the media cultivates oneness and cohesion within the public. In a society where every person is his or her own editor, people rarely get the time to get together and discuss one issue at a time.

Polarization and religion in the US  

            Another factor that is frequently blamed for polarization of American politics is religion. Religion plays a critical role in the American life (Abramowitz & Saunders 12). During the last few decades, the emergence of the Religious Right coincided with the onset of the era of political polarization. However, most people may agree that while religion is one of the factors contributing to polarization, it is hardly the most critical one (Nivola & Brady 49). Its level of influence may be discussed with the same level of emphasis as race, region, and class. Racial, regional, and class differences also influence the extent to which the American politics is becoming polarized.

            America is far from being said to be going through a religious or cultural war. This view is commonly held by those on both the Left and the Right. However, such a simplistic approach fails to reveal many underlying complexities relating to the dynamics of religion in America. Long before the emergence of the Religious Right, many White Southern Democrats had started moving into the Republican Party. This happened during the 1960s. These Whites were motivated by race and not religion. Moreover, it seems that even if conservatives were not religious, they would be on the Republican side.

            The effect of religion seems to be minimal in the context of the contemporary polarized partisanship. The example of the 2004 presidential election may be relevant in this context. During this election, Bush managed to defeat Kerry not because of the support rendered by religious voters but because of his success in attracting votes from the nonreligious majority. Nonetheless, it is true that the phenomenon of political polarization is influenced as much by religion as by class, racial, and regional factors.

            A critical factor in this case is the extent to which the elite increases political polarization by invoking religious, regional, racial, and class differences. Such an approach is unhealthy for democracy in America because it hinders people from addressing the real issues of the day. In many ways, these factors seem to constitute an elite phenomenon rather than something that triggers an animated debate from the public. The issues that the elite raise seem to be in the subconscious minds of the public until the elite stir the emotions of this public with outrageous comments. It is unfortunate that at that point, political polarization is bound to occur.

Polarized partisanship: An indication of a malfunctioning political system

            The polarized nature of American party politics is an indication that the country’s political system may not be functioning in the best possible manner. Today’s institutional practices and structures are the root of the prevailing problem of political polarization. A case in point gerrymandering, which creates political divisions at various levels within the American political system.

            Other critical areas include campaign finance, the role of primaries, the Electoral College system, and the internal rules established in the US Congress. Of all these factors, gerrymandering seems to take the greatest blame.  However, it seems that this is only a “conventional view”. Today, partisan polarization occurs in both Senate and House of Representative races. In these races, incidences of systemic gerrymandering have not been reported, particularly in recent years. State boundaries are fixed. This reinforces the view that it is inappropriate to heap the greatest blame on gerrymandering.

            Electoral competitiveness has been cited as one of the factors influencing partisan polarization. The argument in this regard is that less electoral competition leads to partisan polarization. The debate on gerrymandering demonstrates that this is not necessarily the case. However, it is always a good thing for democracy for electoral competiveness to be promoted. However, in today’s political environment, it is virtually impossible for gerrymandering to be stopped. The indication may be that in an environment of political partisanship, it is difficult for some of the most serious problems affecting American to be solved. This is a serious challenge that threatens the future of democracy in the US. As commentators examine the role of institutional practices on polarized partisanship, a lot of attention is on the role of non-institutional variables such as new media technologies, religious beliefs, and the role of political elites and intellectuals.

Impact of polarization on the judiciary

            Polarization has far-reaching consequences for the US judiciary. Over the last three decades, Republicans and Democrats have been quarreling a lot over judicial nominees. These quarrels are motivated by ideological differences between the two political parties. Whenever judicial appointments are made, the ensuing political disagreements lead to a delay at the confirmation stage.

In recent years, politicians have been raising many issues relating to court jurisdictions. In most cases, politicians raise these issues along partisan lines. The same case applies with regard to congressional challenges. In effect, polarization has left an indelible mark on the judiciary. In this situation, America has had to contend with the dilemma of political courts. When political parties become ideologically polarized, the impact ends up being felt in the courts in terms of makeup, structure, and independence.

Nevertheless, one should expect the courts to be influenced in one way or the other by politics. In any country, the judiciary is always an integral part of the political process. However, problems arise with the emergence of deeply “political” courts. Judges make decisions on policymaking and the constitutional limits for the legislature. They also regulate the way political life is conducted. It is not surprising that judicial appointments are political. This phenomenon is not only inevitable but also legitimate in the American government structure. In effect, if courts legislate, then the public has an inalienable interest in who is appointed to serve on the bench.

However, it is possible for political courts to refrain from operating as partisan courts. In other words, it is possible for efforts to be made to ensure that the handprint of the party is not directly seen in the constitution of the judicial bench. Many instances arise in which a partisan bench comes into operation. For example, when a governing majority party confirms a nominee in a situation where opposition is being waged by the minority party, such a selection process can reasonably be said to be partisan. Similarly, the bench on which these judges sit can also be said to be partisan. Immoderate judges may be said to have been selected if the opposition party was opposing the nominees on ideological grounds.

A greater level success has been achieved in Europe constitutional courts with regard to partisanship. They tend to exhibit more ideological centrism and less partisanship. This is simply because in European courts, supermajorities are required for a judge to be confirmed in office. With such a requirement, it is impossible for judges with extreme ideological opinions to be confirmed to office. In the US, judicial selection processes whose confirmation requires simple majorities are likely to yield immoderate judges. This tendency has led observers to resort to painting federal courts as both political and partisan.  

In the US, the risk of establishing partisan courts is higher because of the political nature of the processes of appointing judges. This partisanship tends to have a far-reaching impact on American democracy. This unhealthy trend needs to be reversed. It may be helpful for the US government to adopt the system used in many European countries where supermajorities are required before the confirmation of a judge to hold office. Moreover, in most European governments, judges are selected from government bureaucracies. In contrast, American presidents are given a free hand in the selection of the nominees by the country’s system.

This issue is complicated by the fact that the issues that American courts address are central to the identities of major political parties. These issues include civil liberties, gay rights, protection of the environment, and abortion. In recent times, both Republicans and Democrats have demonstrated bitterness and opposition whenever either party attempts to find their way into the judiciary.

It seems that a major cause for concern is the shift from a political judiciary to a partisan judiciary. It is not clear whether the judges’ ideological tenure is normally affected by shifts in the ideological makeup and partisan control. If this is the case, the stability of the law is likely to be affected. Moreover, judicial independence may be interfered with. To avoid this situation, the issue of polarized partisanship may need to be addressed. Although two poles of opinions are necessary for democracy to thrive, there is also a need for a centrist group from which the president can make judicial appointments.

American needs to avoid a situation where the public loses confidence in the country’s courts. To do this, the process of consent and advice should not be seen portray elements of partisanship. Moreover, the legitimacy of the bench should be preserved by putting into consideration the normative consequences of partisanship from a legal perspective.

With the rise of party polarization in Congress in recent times, several procedural consequences are to be expected. It is expected that partisan majorities in the House of Representatives are expected to continue exploiting the existing rules to limit the extent to which the minority party participates in the House. Even within the Senate, the majority may be less likely to listen to the views of the minority. This has occurred in the past, where minority-party members were denied a role in various conference committees. In most cases, these minority members were denied a role simply because the measures being addressed in these committees were of great importance to the agenda of the majority party. Such a turn of events is regrettable in a democracy. It shows that different political parties are growing increasingly intolerance of each other’s views.

Conclusions

This paper has argued that the current state of polarized partisanship is not healthy for democracy in the US. The overview of polarized partisanship in US politics shows an undesirable trend in which people are becoming increasingly divided. Citizens seem to disagree bitterly with each other along ideological lines. Such ideological differences are increasingly being expressed through political parties, hence the emergence of a new culture of polarized partisanship.

On the basis of this overview, this paper has reached several conclusions. One of them is that polarization impacts negatively on political participation. In this environment of polarization the level of negative advertising continues to increase. This is not healthy for democracy as it distracts people from addressing the real issues affecting the American society.

 Another conclusion is that it is advantageous for two poles of opinions to exist. This is because an environment of political competition is created and people get an opportunity to address the real issues affecting their country. Such a phenomenon is supposed to trigger a rise in voter turnout since more people feel the need to demonstrate their political support for the ideas that they like through the ballot.

The media plays a critical role in today’s era of party polarization. It is therefore not surprising that the media is frequently being blamed for polarizing the country.  The same case applies with regard to religion. Several decades ago, the role of religion in party polarization was being underestimated; today, this role is being overestimated. By overestimating, other important factors such as race, region, and class are being taken away from the limelight. Whereas the two poles of opinion brought about by polarization are desirable, it is imperative that a balanced approach is adopted in addressing different issues for democracy to continue thriving.

            Furthermore, in most cases, polarized partisanship seems to be an indication of a malfunctioning political system. This happens when desirable policies are rejected for partisan reasons. In the judiciary, pertinent issues tend to be addressed along partisan lines, particularly at the confirmation stage. This is unhealthy for democracy in a country where the identities of the main political parties are traditionally based on weighty issues such as civil liberties, abortion, environmental conservation, and gay rights. The judiciary in the US, just like in other parts of the world, is political. However, the problem of partisanship can be addressed if the federal government portrayed sufficient political will. Without such willingness, Americans may lose confidence in the judiciary. Moreover, political parties may continue using courts as avenues for promoting polarized partisanship.

Works Cited

Abramowitz, Alan & Saunders, Kyle. Why Can’t We All Just Get Along? The Reality of a Polarized America. Fort Collins: Colorado State University Press, 2005.

Druckman, James., Peterson, Erik., & Slothuus, Rune. How Elite Partisan Polarization Affects Public Opinion Formation. American Political Science Review, 107.1 (2013): 57-79.

Nivola, P. & Brady, D. Red and Blue Nation? Causes, Consequences, and Correction of America’s Polarized Politics (Vol. 1). Brookings Press, 2006.

Nivola, Pietro and Brady, David. Red and Blue Nation?: Consequences and Correction of America’s Polarized Politics (Vol. 2). Brookings Press, 2008.

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