Compromise in an Age of Party Polarization

ISBN : 9780197510490

Jennifer Wolak
240 Pages
156 x 235 mm
Pub date
Jul 2020
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Congressional debates are increasingly defined by gridlock and stalemate, with partisan showdowns that lead to government shutdowns. Compromise in Congress seems hard to reach, but do politicians deserve all the blame? Legislators who refuse to compromise might be doing just what their constituents want them to do. In Compromise in an Age of Party Polarization, Jennifer Wolak challenges this wisdom and demonstrates that Americans value compromise in politics. Citizens want more from elected officials than just ideological representation-they also care about the processes by which disagreements are settled. Using evidence from a variety of surveys and innovative experiments, she shows the persistence of people's support for compromise across a range of settings-even when it comes at the cost of partisan goals and policy objectives. While polarization levels are high in contemporary America, our partisan demands are checked by our principled views of how we believe politics should be practiced. By underscoring this basic yet mostly ignored fact, this book stands as an important first step toward trying to reduce the extreme polarization that plagues our politics.


Chapter 1: The Challenges of Compromise
Chapter 2: Public Support for Political Compromise
Chapter 3: Compromise as a Democratic Value
Chapter 4: The Bounds of Public Support for Compromise
Chapter 5: Partisan Motives and Consideration of Compromise
Chapter 6: Campaigns, Competition, and Support for Political Compromise
Chapter 7: Policymaking, Procedural Justice, and Support for Compromise
Chapter 8: Do People Want Members of Congress to Compromise?
Chapter 9: Support for Compromise in Principle and in Practice
Chapter 10: Conclusions

About the author: 

Jennifer Wolak is Associate Professor of Political Science at the University of Colorado at Boulder. She studies political behavior in the United States, with a particular focus on political psychology, public opinion, state politics, and gender.

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