Lilliana Mason: The traditional thing when I started my thesis is that polarization is based on editing. Americans are increasingly extreme in their thematic positions and are moving to both ends of the spectrum. Republicans are becoming extremely conservative and Democrats are extremely liberal. That would be polarization. The reason I started this whole project was to say, “What if there is another type of polarization? What if we weren`t polarized in our spending items? What happens if we have relatively moderate thematic positions, but we are so connected to our identities that, whatever the content of the problem, we feel very far from our “outgroups”? So problem-based polarization means we don`t agree, and identity-based polarization means that we feel that we are very different people from the other team, regardless of our actual emissions agreements. We have all this socio-psychological literature that talks about intergroup conflicts, and almost none of this is in disagreement. Most of the time, it`s because the bands hate each other. So I think: what if we start to think of partisanship as a problem of intergroup conflict and to use the literature historically devoted to racial intergroups or other types of intergroups, but which is applied to parties. That`s how the project started.
And then, gradually over time, things began to happen in the world, which began to confirm the ideas I had. If I can, let me hold a mirror to the science itself. Does this “incivile segmentation” affect faculty, not only in politics, but also in schools of thought? As far as politics is concerned, I have observed a somewhat exaggerated reaction from academics to the Trump election, so much so that there are regular “Tourette`s Syndrome” oaths on the current political landscape that seems stronger than the past. It is almost as if there were “two-minute hate sessions” to deduce from meetings that have nothing to do with the current political landscape. And those who don`t walk the line jump right away. This “furious” phenomenon encompasses many of those who are supposed to analyze the political landscape in a professional (passionate) way. But do we do it? The social science profession seems to be approaching the Trump administration as a great outlier (several above-average standard deviations), but has anyone asked if the government is really so “far away”? In short, does Professor Mason, who is studying in the political world, also have an impact on the profession in which the analysis is conducted? I will again nominate Arthur Brooks as a potential future guest on this topic (or related) based on his new podcast focused on the art of disagreement. As a Liberal, Brooks is one of those conservatives that I have in mind because I am interested in some of his work.
I loved that podcast. Lilliana Mason is smart and interesting. I`ve learned a lot. But she missed her target. Another example I gave in this book is that Pew did a study right after the Sandy Hook shootings and asked people how far they had agreed to the government to create a basic verification law for the purchase of weapons. 90% of the American population agreed, including 80% of Republicans. They agreed to adopt legislation on the application of substantive controls. Then they were asked if they had agreed to Congress to pass a bill that would impose substantive controls.