Why 2014 Is Already a Year of National Unity! And Why Politicians Don't Care!


Forget Duck Dynasty, belief in evolution, whether the Cowboys really are (or ever were) "America's Team," and other divisive issues.

The simple fact is that across a broad variety of topics—including access to abortion, pot legalization, homosexuality, and the threat of big government—Americans are in super-strong agreement. Isn't it about time we recognize that?

I've got a new column up at Time.com that explores that topic and suggests why despite such agreement the GOP and Democrats—and their minions on cable news—seem so polarized.

Here's a snippet:

The apparently massive and unbridgeable gulfs between Republicans and Democrats, men and women, gays and straights, secularists and believers, rich and poor, and coastal elites and heartland Americans are belied by data that substantial and growing majorities of folks actually agree on a wide variety of important social and policy issues and attitudes….

In works such as Culture War?: The Myth of a Polarized America (2004) and Disconnect: The Breakdown of Representation in American Politics (2010), Stanford political scientist Morris P. Fiorina explains that the mechanisms for selecting candidates and party platforms reward special-interest groups that tend to have very narrow and unrepresentative views. "A polarized political class makes the citizenry appear polarized, writes Fiorina, "but it is only that – an appearance." In short, we are faced with political choices that don't represent our actual attitudes toward politics. The same holds true for cable news, too, where many talkers are former or future party apparatchiks or pulled from archly ideological publications.

The "bulk of the American citizenry," Fiorina cheekily suggests, "is somewhat in the position of the unfortunate citizens of some third-world countries who try to stay out of the crossfire while Maoist guerillas and right-wing death squads shoot at each other." That's a pretty good description of channel surfing between Rachel Maddow and Sean Hannity or flipping between a White House presser and a John Boehner speech, isn't it?

Read the whole thing.