Why We’re Polarized By Ezra Klein

Ezra Klein
Ezra Klein

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

Hillary and her book what heppened
Hillary Clinton

“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.tweets

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

NationalismThe 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.

Party Polarization

Republicans Polarized
Republican Polarized Party

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.

In Conclusion

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.

CoronavirusTo 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.

If you have any questions, or want to leave a comment, please do below and I will get back with you as soon as I can.

You can get the book Here: Why We’re Polarized

All The Best,


16 thoughts on “Why We’re Polarized By Ezra Klein”

  1. Your guide is very helpful on Polarized by Ezra Klein. Now 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. This book takes us inside their feuds their thoughts, the bond mots they deliver in private meetings and the agonies they quietly confide to friends. Thanks for sharing.

    1. Thanks Harish for your comment, and I agree the more polarized we are, the more we risk our democracy, with every year that goes by, be it Republican Leadership or Democratic Leadership in power, we remain more polarized each and every time there is a switch of powers in the White House. If we take out the word Power, maybe we could have a little harmony among out political lawmakers and Presidents. This is my wish for the United States anyway.

  2. I must I can’t to get this book as it really seems to be loaded with everything that we need for us to understand  why we are polarized.

    One significant thing you mentioned is party polarisation and we all know In politics, polarization or polarisation can refer to the divergence of political attitudes to ideological extremes.i think getting this book would definitely explain a lot more to us and give a better understanding to people especially novices In this area.

    Thanks for reviewing this book,



    1. Thank you David for your comment, and this is one of the must have books, if political polarization disturbs or if you agree with it. I feel as an American, we need to come together as a government to get things done, but if we are polarized and the bi-partisan votes are not happening, nothing ever gets accomplished, we have to find some common ground, or we will lose all we have fought for since the inception of the Constitution.

  3. Hey, I enjoy a lot while reading your guide on Polarized By Ezra Klein and find this book useful. Donald Trump won the election. There was a Maya Angelou quote that ricocheted across social media during the 2016 election. 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 election. Grate book in details.

    1. Thank you Deepanshi for your comment, the comment that Maya Angelou made, that reads, “When someone shows you who they are believe them.” by far the most simple but serious quote that I have ever heard. Since 2016, I have become very fearful at times and at other times very mad about the Trump administration, but since the Coronavirus outbreak and how he has handled it so far has set my hair on fire, these are human lives we are talking about, overly protective and ready for the emergency is how America use to lead the world, not we are almost last to other countries in our response time and actions. Very disturbing.

  4. Many thanks to you for presenting us with an article whose book on American politics is written by Ezra Klein, ” Why Were Polarized” sets out to succinctly break down why American politics has become so dysfunctional over the past forty years., Why We Are Polarized. There are endless shelves of books on what has happened to politics in the USA, culminating in the rule of Trump. Klein defines polarization as the phenomenon when the opinions of the public change which results in splitting and gathering around two ideological poles leaving no true moderates in the country. I have read many books that attempt to explain the current nightmare of American politics. Klein’s book is one of the best. It is well researched and accessible. He provides a clear comprehensive historical analysis of the shift from bi-partisan to polarized partisan politics. Finally thank you so much for reviewing a very nice book with such an article.

    1. Thank you Md for your comment, I agree with you on how the past 30 to 40 years have laid out a path to the partisan politics that we have today and have had boiling over in the last 16 years. It just feels like to me that Trump promotes partisan more now then when he was a candidate for President, he as our President is for we the people, not we the Republican people. Otherwise I agree with you on your comment and thanks for sharing your opinion with me.

  5. Hi, Thanks for your Articles. It is commonly said that Polities is a dety game where you hear friends, those who are suppose to work together in the various Politicle Parties to uphold a Nation insult and fight one another. Truph finally won the 2016 election and there might also be many unfulfilled promises, these a lapse of the part of the government. Aboutf the Corona Virus i watched the News and also know that every Government are pressuring their countries Scientist to come out with some Vasin againt the Virus and the only thing one can do in this case is to pray that God’s Wisdom will guide them. Thanks

    1. Thank you Joy for your comment, I partly agree with you about everything you said, but the Coronavirus is real and it is spreading fast, while I agree we need to pray for God’s wisdom, we also need to follow the CDC guidelines to keep us and others safe during these turbulent times.

  6. Many thanks to you for sharing such an excellent article with us .I read the  Why We’re Polarized book  and enjoyed it very much and this book is a story of American politics, usually told through the stories of personal political actors. This book focuses on talent, their hubris, their decency, their deception.In the Why Polarized book, the decisions that leaders make are marked by the waning moments of history .The coronavirus is currently the epidemic of worldwide outbreaks and   through this excellent example you have described the problems very nicely and I think that a government should be formed that can solve all problems nicely and works well together.And my brother lives in America. So from what I heard, I realized that the American government should work together to reach the right goals for the good of the people. 

    Lastly, I hope that by reading your article, everyone will gain a lot of knowledge and I will definitely convey your article to my friend and recommend buying a book why Polarized and will definitely share with you his new experience. Can I share your article on my social media?

    1. Thank you Shanta for your comment, please share with your social media, and it is true that we in America are more polarized than ever before. You feel it everyday from even family and friends who have different political beliefs and policies. I personally have not lost friends or family connections from  the polarization of politics, but I have strained relationships with these groups of people in my life to this day, Thanks again for your comment.

  7. Thanks for reviewing this book. I’m originally not that interested into politics, but Trump’s winning as the current president of US make me curious about his history, along with other major political figure in the US. Is the book available via digital download in Amazon? Thanks in advance for your answer 🙂

    1. Thank you Alblue for your comment, this book is available in Audiobook, Kindle, Hardcover and Audiobook CD from Amazon, it does look like BookBub has a free digital download of this book. This is the place where I go for some of my book readings. The more we know about our politicians the better and more informed we will be when it comes to voting in November, not just for President, but all elections. 

  8. Ezra Klein surveys quite a bit of political science and political psychology literature to explain the partisan polarization of the past  years. The key is identity not identity in terms of specific marginal groups that is the usual focus but identity, in general, it’s an integral part of every person’s psychology and how it relates to partisan politics. You see people are social animals meant to work together and intensely identify with a group that we share things in common. Markers of identity can be anything like race, gender, sexual orientation, and religion but identity can be tied to almost any aspect of our lives, where we live, our hobbies, our interests, occupation, music tastes and even sports teams in fact on the last one sports team identification has lead people to riot with body counts and all. One form of identification that has a dangerous salience is party and ideological identification. 

    Now we have a situation where party and ideology are linked and Democrats and Republican partisanship became a lot more salient. Other factors linked to temperament linked ideology to a whole other host of identities and clustered into two mega identities around party.This seems to happen in all western countries but our system of government was designed by the founders who hated faction and unfortunately the way they designed our system is such that it can’t handle strong partisan faction well and is now after a long lucky run is starting to be beset by partisan gridlock and dysfunction. 


    1. Thank you for your comment, I agree with you 100%, the partisan atmosphere is so overwhelming to me right now, it just feels like when I talk about anything that is more left wing, I get raked over the coals by the right wing activists, and of course this is the same on the other side of the aisle. Friends and family alike. My relationships with everyone now days is based on your political affiliation. I am an Independent, and have in the past voted for both Republicans and Democrats. But in todays politics, it is hard to voice your political views, without being attacked by one side or the other. Books that give me information is the way I choose to let out somethings inside of me. Thanks again for your comment, sorry for getting so wordy.

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