We’ve seen it coming for years. Now it is official. The leaders of our political parties have learned that they can inflame their bases more effectively by demonizing their opposition than by convincing their supporters that they have the better policy arguments. Here’s the recent article by political scientists Alan Abramowitz and Steven Webster in Politico Magazine: http://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2017/09/05/negative-partisanship-explains-everything-215534 .
In large measure this is because, on many policy issues, there is so much common ground upon which most Americans can agree that the parties’ best bet is to find some other way of winning support. As long as our elections only allow us to vote for the “lesser of two evils,” campaigns will be encouraged to attack and demonize the other candidate.
Political campaigns and the governing climate in Washington would take a dramatic turn for the better if, in addition to the votes we cast for individual candidates, we had an opportunity to reject all “evils,” whether they be lesser or greater.
The Public Check on Congress could be that kind of game changer. I’d be pleased to show non-partisan political reform and philanthropic organizations how they can support this powerful and achievable accountability enhancement to our political system.