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Uniting AmericaRestoring the Vital Center to American Democracy$
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Norton Garfinkle and Daniel Yankelovich

Print publication date: 2006

Print ISBN-13: 9780300108569

Published to Yale Scholarship Online: October 2013

DOI: 10.12987/yale/9780300108569.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM YALE SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.yale.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Yale University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in YSO for personal use.date: 16 September 2021

Overcoming Polarization: The New Social Morality

Overcoming Polarization: The New Social Morality

(p.17) Chapter 1 Overcoming Polarization: The New Social Morality
Uniting America
Daniel Yankelovich
Yale University Press

Today's political discourse is dominated by the red/blue theory, which argues that the United States has evolved into a 50–50 nation of liberals and conservatives. According to the red/blue polarization thesis, the nation is turning from unity to divisiveness, from pragmatism to ideology, from comity to bitter partisanship. Politicians are showing unyielding rigidity instead of willingness to compromise. To a certain extent, the polarization in Congress reflects a historical trend that has been going on for more than four decades, dating back to the time of President Lyndon B. Johnson. This chapter considers the emergence of a “new social morality,” a cluster of shared values that seem to unite strong majorities of Americans. These values range from patriotism and individualism to self-confidence, child-centeredness, religious beliefs, pragmatism and compromise, acceptance of diversity, support for community and charity, and willingness to cooperate with other countries. After a brief overview of the polarization idea, the chapter argues that this “new social morality” would enable policymakers to come up with practical solutions that unite rather than divide the country.

Keywords:   polarization, pragmatism, Congress, social morality, patriotism, self-confidence, child-centeredness, religious beliefs, compromise, unity

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