"You have two parties in a heterogeneous country where people have all kinds of views," says Morris Fiorina, a political scientist at Stanford and senior fellow at the Hoover Institution. "It's simply not enough to represent diversity in this country."
In his latest book, Unstable Majorities: Polarization, Party Sorting, and Political Stalemate, Fiorina argues that Americans actually agree with each other on fundamental issues such as immigration, marriage equality, and pot legalization. The polarization we hear about is mostly restricted to political activists and media elites who mistake their own extreme views for those of the common people.
"Everybody worries about the average American being ensconced in a filter bubble," says Fiorina. "Most of the research suggests it's the elites who are in these filter bubbles...and have this biased view of the world."
Reason's Nick Gillespie sat down with Fiorina to discuss ideological bubbles, why President Donald Trump is a fracture in the two-system, and whether more Americans are becoming true independents (short answer: yes).
Edited by Alexis Garcia. Cameras by Paul Detrick, Justin Monticello, and Zach Weissmueller.
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This is a rush transcript. Check all quotes against the audio for accuracy.
Nick Gillespie: Let's start with the title of your book, Unstable Majorities. You note early on that the four consecutive elections between 2004 and 2010, produced four different patterns of political control of the federal government. So the White House, Congress, and the Senate all flip around in different ways. Since 2000, we've had two people who lost the popular vote but won the presidency. These are extremely atypical events. What's going on here?
Morris Fiorina: Well I think it's very interesting. We're in a historically unusual time. Generally speaking, there is a majority party in the United States. There is no majority party today. In every election each of our three national offices, the presidency, the House, and the Senate are basically up for grabs. It's only eight years ago that the Democrats had the House of Representatives, the Senate is always on knife edge and as you point out, we've had two very close presidential elections where the popular vote winner lost.
Gillespie: And you talk about how even in 2004, which it's funny while I was reading the book, I was like, Bush won that easily, but actually it was pretty close.
Gillespie: And 2008, was not exactly a blowout either.