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2015 U. Chi. Legal F. 243 (2015)
Reducing Polarization: Some Facts for Reformers

handle is hein.journals/uchclf2015 and id is 247 raw text is: 







     Reducing Polarization: Some Facts for
                          Reformers

                          Nolan McCartyt




                            ABSTRACT

   In response to the governance problems associated with excessive party
   polarization in American national and state governments, many
   reformers now seek to alter existing electoral institutions to reduce
   polarization and its effects. Unfortunately, many existing proposals are
   based on premises that lack empirical foundation. This essay outlines a
   set of empirical regularities about polarization in the United States that
   have  important implications for the appropriateness and efficacy of
   reform proposals. In the conclusion, I outline some approaches to
   polarization that are consistent with the empirical facts.


                       I.   INTRODUCTION

     On  January   3, 2015,  the New   York   Times  published  an
article entitled Departing   Lawmakers Bemoan the Lack of
Compromise.'   The  article features four departing   members   of
Congress  with  a combined   120  years  of legislative experience.
The  lawmakers   include two  Democrats,  Senator  Tom   Harkin  of
Iowa  and Representative   Henry  Waxman of California,   and  two
Republicans,  Senator  Saxby  Chambliss  and  Representative  Jack
Kingston,  both  of Georgia.  Notably,  the  two  Democrats   were
known   as  staunch   liberals while  the  two  Republicans   were
reliable conservatives.  Yet,  all four decry  the  effects of the
partisan  and ideological polarization which  they believe has  led
to serious erosion of the capacity of Congress  to get things done.
Each   former  legislator  recalls past  bipartisan   compromises

    t Susan Dod Brown Professor of Politics and Public Affairs, Woodrow Wilson School
and Department of Politics, Princeton University, nmccarty@princeton.edu.
    1 Carl Hulse and Robert Pear, Departing Lawmakers Bemoan the Lack of
Compromise, NEW YORK TIMES (Jan. 3, 2015), available at http:I/www.nytimes.com/
2015/01/03/us/politics/departing-lawmakers-lament-capitols-partisanship.html, archived
at http://perma.cc/7D7N-C97B.


243

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