- Paperback: 256 pages
- Publisher: Longman; 2 edition (November 19, 2005)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0321366069
- ISBN-13: 978-0321366061
- Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.6 x 8 inches
- Shipping Weight: 8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 34 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,967,121 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Culture War? The Myth of a Polarized America (Great Questions in Politics Series) (2nd Edition) 2nd Edition
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From the Back Cover
What Culture War?
Abortion, Gay Marriage, School Prayer, Gun Control
Is the nation really polarized on these hot-button moral, religious, and cultural issues? Should we believe the media pundits and politicians who tell us that Americans are deeply divided?
No, says Morris Fiorina. At a time when the rift between the “red” and “blue” states can seem deeper than ever, Fiorina debunks the assumption that Americans are deeply split over national issues. He presents quite a contrary picture — that most Americans stand in the middle of the political landscape and are in general agreement even on those issues thought to be most divisive.
Poking holes in the concept of a “culture war,” Fiorina explains that the majority of Americans are both moderate and tolerant, and that their greatest concerns are leadership and security, not moral values. Supporting his position with election data and a variety of public surveys, Fiorina concludes that the view of a divided America is simply false and that by recognizing our common ground, we have a basis for creating a more unified and moderate approach to government and politics in the near future.
A new epilogue relates the 2008 campaign and election to the general argument of the book, looking at the people and issues affecting the road to the White House in 2008, and speculating on what lies ahead for (un)polarized America.
Morris P. Fiorina is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institute and the Wendt Family Professor of Political Science at Stanford University. His work has appeared in the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal, and he is the author of several books, including Divided Government and The New American Democracy.--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
About the Author
Morris P. Fiorina is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution and the Wendt Family Professor of Political Science at Stanford University. His work has appeared in the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top customer reviews
If I took anything away from this book I took away two things: 1.) Americans aren't polarized as the media would have you believe and 2.) surveys and the data gathered from surveys are immensely dependent upon the questions.
A quote that summarizes the book can be found on page 9:
"A polarized political class makes the citizenry appear polarized, but it is largely that--an appearance."
Morris Fiorina sets out to prove that the people aren't polarized on their policy positions, they are polarized in their choices. Meaning, if two Americans aren't in agreement on an issue they usually aren't too far apart, BUT... the candidates that they most closely identify with are usually miles apart from on another. Hence, when the voters go to the polls the results will indicate that the people are polarized when in reality they only had TWO choices. What Fiorina proved is that we're not strictly red or blue but more purple.
And I like how Fiorina compared and contrasted different surveys to expose just how vague some surveys can be while others paint a clearer picture. One such survey was on the issue of abortion. People are either pro-choice or pro-life (no one wants to be labelled anti-whatever when talking about abortion). Those are usually the choices and it is one of the most polarizing issues in America. But when a survey was done that had six questions on it it told a different story:
"Please tell me whether or not you think it should be possible for a pregnant woman to obtain a legal abortion if
1.) the woman's own health is seriously endangered.
2.) she became pregnant as a result of rape.
3.) there is a strong chance of serious defect in the baby.
4.) the family has very low income and cannot afford anymore children.
5.) she is not married and does not want to marry the man.
6.) she is married and does not want any more children.
The majority of Americans on either side of the debate agreed on at least the first three categories with few saying it should be illegal in all cases and few saying it should be legal in all cases. But the activists on either side that seemingly speak for everyone make it seem as though the issue is black or white.
There are many such examples as this throughout the book that do a lot to dispel the myth of this huge chasm between us all. It is a worthwhile read if just to give you a new perspective.
Fiorina, for those readers who are familiar with his academic research, is a skilled researcher, well schooled in statistics. It is to his credit that he presents evidence in a way that is accessible to lay readers (his technical publications would not be so easily understandable to nonacademic readers).
In short, he believes that the idea of a great culture war is dead wrong. As he says in Chapter 1: ". . .the sentiments expressed. . .[by] scholars, journalists, and politicos range from simple exaggeration to sheer nonsense." Chapter 2 suggests strongly that the differences between citizens in red and blue states is not so great as advocates of the culture war say. While there is greater polarization between leaders of the Republicans and Democrats across the country, this same polarization is not nearly so manifest among the bulk of the American people. Indeed, the United States, in his view, remains a centrist, moderate country politically.
All in all, a good read and a provocative thesis. Worth reading by those interested in how well "culture war" serves as a metaphor for American politics.