The New York Times:
Your book “The Righteous Mind” addresses the psychological reasons that politics are so divided right now. I wonder what your take would be on conservatives’ fury over John Roberts’s health care decision.
My colleague Pete Ditto studied people’s attitudes about mavericks and demonstrated that everybody likes to think that they value mavericks; but actually we like mavericks only if they’re on the other side. If they’re on our side, we call them traitors.
We keep hearing that the partisan divide is at an all-time high, but isn’t this ignoring the sweep of history? Aaron Burr shot Alexander Hamilton. Preston Brooks nearly killed Charles Sumner on the floor of the Senate over slavery.
The 1930s through the 1970s was the aberration, a time of extraordinarily low partisanship. In the ’80s, it began to shoot up. The good news is that it can’t get much worse. It’s about as bad as it can possibly get, mathematically, in the House of Representatives.
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