Divided Politics, Divided Nation: Hyperconflict in the Trump Era

Brookings Institution Press
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Why are Americans so angry with each other?

The United States is caught in a partisan hyperconflict that divides politicians, communities—and even families. Politicians from the president to state and local office-holders play to strongly-held beliefs and sometimes even pour fuel on the resulting inferno. This polarization has become so intense that many people no longer trust anyone from a differing perspective.

Drawing on his personal story of growing up as a fundamentalist Christian on a dairy farm in rural Ohio, then as an academic in the heart of the liberal East Coast establishment, Darrell West analyzes the economic, cultural, and political aspects of polarization. He takes advantage of his experiences inside both conservative and liberal camps to explain the views of each side and offer insights into why each is angry with the other.

West argues that societal tensions have metastasized into a dangerous tribalism that seriously threatens U.S. democracy. Unless people can bridge these divisions and forge a new path forward, it will be impossible to work together, maintain a functioning democracy, and solve the country's pressing policy problems.

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About the author

Darrell M. West is vice president of the Governance Studies program at the Brookings Institution and taught for many years at Brown University. He is the author of The Future of Work: Robots, AI, and Automation; Megachange: Economic Disruption, Political Upheaval, and Social Strife in the 21st Century; and Billionaires: Reflections on the Upper Crust.

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Additional Information

Publisher
Brookings Institution Press
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Published on
Mar 26, 2019
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Pages
234
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ISBN
9780815736929
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Language
English
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Genres
Political Science / Political Ideologies / Conservatism & Liberalism
Political Science / Political Ideologies / Democracy
Political Science / Political Process / Political Parties
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Looking for ways to handle the transition to a digital economy

Robots, artificial intelligence, and driverless cars are no longer things of the distant future. They are with us today and will become increasingly common in coming years, along with virtual reality and digital personal assistants.

As these tools advance deeper into everyday use, they raise the question—how will they transform society, the economy, and politics? If companies need fewer workers due to automation and robotics, what happens to those who once held those jobs and don't have the skills for new jobs? And since many social benefits are delivered through jobs, how are people outside the workforce for a lengthy period of time going to earn a living and get health care and social benefits?

Looking past today's headlines, political scientist and cultural observer Darrell M. West argues that society needs to rethink the concept of jobs, reconfigure the social contract, move toward a system of lifetime learning, and develop a new kind of politics that can deal with economic dislocations. With the U.S. governance system in shambles because of political polarization and hyper-partisanship, dealing creatively with the transition to a fully digital economy will vex political leaders and complicate the adoption of remedies that could ease the transition pain. It is imperative that we make major adjustments in how we think about work and the social contract in order to prevent society from spiraling out of control.

This book presents a number of proposals to help people deal with the transition from an industrial to a digital economy. We must broaden the concept of employment to include volunteering and parenting and pay greater attention to the opportunities for leisure time. New forms of identity will be possible when the "job" no longer defines people's sense of personal meaning, and they engage in a broader range of activities. Workers will need help throughout their lifetimes to acquire new skills and develop new job capabilities. Political reforms will be necessary to reduce polarization and restore civility so there can be open and healthy debate about where responsibility lies for economic well-being.

This book is an important contribution to a discussion about tomorrow—one that needs to take place today.

Everyone has an opinion about whether or not Donald Trump colluded with the Russians to defeat Hillary Clinton in 2016. The number of actors involved is staggering, the events are complicated, and it’s hard to know who or what to believe. Spygate bypasses opinion and brings facts together to expose the greatest political scandal in American history.

 

Former Secret Service agent and NYPD police officer Dan Bongino joins forces with journalist D.C. McAllister to clear away fake news and show you how Trump’s political opponents, both foreign and domestic, tried to sabotage his campaign and delegitimize his presidency. By following the names and connections of significant actors, the authors reveal:

 

•      Why the Obama administration sent a spy connected to the Deep State into the Trump campaign 

•      How Russians were connected to the opposition research firm hired by the Clinton campaign to find dirt on Trump

•      How the FBI failed to examine DNC computers after they were hacked, relying instead on the findings of a private company connected to the DNC and the Obama administraton

•      Why British intelligence played a role in building the collusion narrative

•      What role Ukrainians played in legitimizing the perception that Trump was conspiring with the Russians

•      How foreign players in the two events that kickstarted the Trump-Russia collusion investigation were connected to the Clinton Foundation, and 

•      What motivated the major actors who sought to frame the Trump campaign and secure a win for Hillary Clinton

Big, unexpected changes are here to stay.

Slow, incremental change has become a relic of the past. Today's shifts come fast and big, what Darrell West calls megachanges, in which dramatic disruptions in trends and policies occur on a regular basis.

Domestically, we see megachange at work in the new attitudes and policies toward same-sex marriage, health care, smoking, and the widespread legalization of marijuana use. Globally, we have seen the extraordinary rise and then collapse of the Arab Spring, the emergence of religious zealotry, the growing influence of nonstate actors, the spread of ISIS-fomented terrorism, the rise of new economic and political powers in Asia, and the fracturing of once-stable international alliances.

Long-held assumptions have been shattered, and the proliferation of unexpected events is confounding experts in the United States and around the globe. Many of the social and political institutions that used to anchor domestic and international politics have grown weak or are in need of dramatic reform.

What to do? West says that we should alter our expectations about the speed and magnitude of political and social change. We also need to recognize that many of our current governing processes are geared to slow deliberation and promote incremental change, not large-scale transformation. With megachange becoming the new normal, our domestic and global institutions must develop the ability to tackle the massive economic, political, and social shifts that we face.
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