Why We’re Polarized

Avid Reader: S. & S. Jan. 2020. 336p. ISBN 9781476700328. $28. POL SCI
In his first book, Klein, editor-at-large and cofounder of Vox and host of the podcasts The Ezra Klein Show and Impeachment, Explained, writes about how individuals reflect the systems around them. Klein shows how the passage of the 1964 Civil Rights Act and the presidential campaign of Barry ­Goldwater later that year caused angry conservatives and Southern Democrats to gravitate toward the Republican Party. According to the author, there is nothing more dangerous than a group accustomed to power that feels its control is fading. Citing a range of primary sources and firsthand interviews, Klein reiterates that the United States is sorted into racial, religious, cultural, and geographic identities, which have led to Democrats becoming more diverse and Republicans more homogeneous. He effectively explains the impact of weak parties and strong partisanship, which can lead to demagogues. Among his ideas for reform are eliminating the Electoral College and granting Washington, DC, and Puerto Rico congressional representation. By combining political history with social commentary, this book will retain relevancy.
VERDICT With YA crossover appeal, Klein’s accessible work is for anyone wondering how we got here; it shows how understanding history can help us plan for the future.
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