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Can American Democracy Be De-Polarized? Some Thoughts on Restoring Democratic Discourse and Accountability (San Francisco)

  • The Commonwealth Club 110 The Embarcadero San Francisco, CA, 94105 United States (map)

Political polarization in contemporary American politics doesn’t simply reflect the fact that we are more sharply divided on the issues but instead stems from deeper structural forces like rising economic inequality, declining social mobility, rapid cultural change,and the reorganization of the public sphere with the rise of digital and social media. If correct, this suggests that in order to make our politics less divisive and fractious we cannot simply will ourselves to be more open to the other side but must instead seek to address the structural causes of polarization. This would require a successful reactivation of what will be described as the politics of democratic self-repair, i.e. when democratic citizens mobilize to fix problems with democracy itself. In this talk Professor David Peritz will discuss the general idea of this kinds of politics, the impediments to its successful reactivation in the early 21st century, and some recent more promising developments.