Cornell Clayton
Cornell Clayton

I attended a public forum on politics and polarization Wednesday evening and a civil discussion broke out.

The Humanities Washington’s Think & Drink program at Lindaman’s featured two political science professors from the Thomas S. Foley Institute for Public Policy and Public Service at WSU. The program was titled American Rage: Division and Anger in U.S. Politics.

WSU’s Cornell Clayton made it clear that incivility and ugliness in our politics are hardly new, citing incendiary political cartoons and campaign slogans throughout the country’s history. Pointing to some 2014 research that tested attitudes of Republicans and Democrats, Clayton said “We not only loathe the other political party, we see them as a threat to the nation’s well being.”

Clayton and Travis Ridout, a professor in the WSU Department of Politics, Philosophy, and Public Affairs, both alluded to how difficult it is for Congress to embrace partisanship given the current level of rancor and incivility. Clayton said members of the House of Representatives are now twice as unlikely to vote against their party’s line than they were in 1980. Ridout said, “It is hard when people are politically polarized to engage in policy discussions.”

Find out more

The Spokesman-Review