Essay Topic: Polarization and Democratic Governance
In Relic, William Howell and Terry Moe argued that the Constitution is ultimately the root cause of our contemporary governing dysfunction. However, many other analysts argue that partisan polarization is the most important factor threatening American governance.
To what extent is American politics today polarized at the elite level (i.e. Congress, the presidency, the judiciary)? To what extent is American politics today polarized at the mass level (i.e. public opinion)?
Identify three potential causes of polarization and discuss how each contributes to polarization at the elite level, mass level, or both.
Is polarization inherently bad for politics? Or does it only have negative consequences (or are its negative consequences greatly intensified) when combined with other features of contemporary American politics?
Directions: The term paper should be 7-9 pages, double-spaced, in 12 point type, with regular 1-inch margins, plus a one page bibliography. Students should draw on course readings question below. It is also appropriate to draw on what you have observed in following the news. It is not necessary to cite specific news articles when you wish to refer to current/recent events. However, please do cite material taken from the textbook or from any of the course readings. In the paper itself, when you refer to a specific point from a reading, use parenthetical citations, e.g. (Levitsky and Ziblatt 2018, 56). Please provide the full reference for all cited works in the bibliography.
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