In this Book: Why Polarized by Ezra Klein, reveals the structural and psychological forces behind America’s descent into division and dysfunction. Neither a polemic nor a lament, this book offers a clear framework for understanding everything from Trump’s rise to the Democratic Party’s leftward shift to the polarization of everyday culture.
What Happened, Hillary Clinton’s Book
“I’ve spent part of nearly every day since Nov. 8,2016, wrestling with a single question,” writes Hillary Clinton in What Happened, “Why did I lose?” she added.
What happened is an unusual book. Published mere months after the 2016 presidential election, it is the defeated candidate’s effort to understand how she fell short. At its core is the belief that something extraordinary and bizarre occurred in 2016-an outcome beyond the boundaries of the normal give-and-take of American politics, an aberration that must be explained.
If Mitt Romney had won in 2012, Barack Obama would not have released a book entitled What The Hell? so, too, if John Kerry had swept to victory in 2004; George W. Bush wouldn’t be joined by Millions in puzzling over the breach. In American politics. Loss is a part of life. Thrumming through Clinton’s book, writes Klein-“and in the anguished flood of post election community from liberals and never-Trumpers-is the belief that 2016 wasn’t like 2012 or 2004. Reality had ruptured. We are owed answers.”
Trump Won The 2016 Election-Stunned Everyone
To be fair, something strange had happened. Donald Trump won the election. There was a Maya Angelou quote that ricocheted across social media during the 2016 election: “When someone shoes you who they are, believe them.” Trump showed us who he was, gleefully constantly. He mocked John McCain for being captured in Vietnam and suggested Ted Cruz’s father had helped assassinate JFK; he bragged about the size of his penis and mused that his whole life had been motivated by greed; he made no mystery of his bigotry or sexism; he called himself a genius while retweeting conspiracy theories in caps, locked in.
Even Trump’s team didn’t believe he was going to win. Plans were afoot for him to start a television channel in the aftermath of his loss. And then came election night. He won the electoral college even though 61 percent of the voters, in Election Day exit polls said he was unqualified to hold the presidency even though most voters had a higher opinion of Clinton and believed Trump lacked the temperament for the office he sought. The U.S. presidency is a sacred trust, its occupant the wielder of unimaginable destructive power, and here we had handed it to a human hurricane. And we had done so knowingly purposefully.
The White Nationalism Election
The 2016 was The White Nationalism Election, when the alt-right came into its own, when Trump promised to sweep in after the first black president in American history and put America back the way it was, to build a wall and make America great again. And yet, in 2004, the GOP (Republicans) candidate won 58 percent of white voters. In, 2012 he won 59 percent of white voters. Fast forward to 2016 and Donald Trump and he won 57 percent of white voters.
Of course there was no group that Trump assailed more regularly than Hispanic immigrants. He launched his campaign by descending a golden escalator and proclaiming. “When Mexico sends its people they’re’re not sending their best. They’re not sending you… They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people.” In 2004, the Republican candidate won 44 percent of Hispanic voters. In 2008, he won 31 percent of Hispanic voters. In, 2012 27 percent of Hispanic voters and in 2016, 28 percent of Hispanic voters.
The fact that voters ultimately treated Trump as of he were just another Republican who speaks to the enormous weight party polarization now exerts on our politics. A weight so heavy that it can take an election as bizarre as 2016 and jam the result into the same grooves as Romney’s contest with Obama or Bush’s race against Kerry.
We are so locked into our political identities that there is virtually no candidate, no information, no condition, that can force us to change our minds. We will justify almost anything or anyone so long as it helps our side, and the result is a politics devoid of guardrails, standards, persuasion, or accountability. This is no more prominent than it is today, with Mitch McConnell (Majority Leader of the Senate) holding onto 250 bills that have passed in the House, but in his words, he is waiting for direction from the President (Donald Trump), who says he is not signing any of them.
Why We’re Polarized, This book is the story of American politics, it is typically told through the stories of individual political actors. This book focuses on the genius, their hubris, their decency, their deceit.
This book takes you inside their feuds their thoughts, the bond mots they deliver in private meetings and the agonies they quietly confide to friends.
In the Why We’re Polarized book, it locates the hinge moments of history in the decisions they make. And, in doing so we suggest they could have made other decisions or that other people, in their place, would have made different decisions. This assumption has the grace of truth, but not as much truth as we think, not as much truth as the breathless insider accounts of White House meetings and campaign machinations would have us believe.
To have a government that is so polarized is not only harmful to we the people, but also, when they do need to work together to accomplish a goal, it will usually lack the heart to go forward. Today with the COVID19. Or Coronavirus as it is called, we need a government that works well together and with some kind of urgency, this virus spreads very fast and if all our government is doing is sticking to their certain policies, on both side of the aisle by the way, we are in big trouble. This is not the way America Works, if we can’t reach common goals for the good of the people.
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You can get the book Here: Why We’re Polarized
All The Best,