Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Circular Polarization--Good or Bad?

Some centrists worry that when the extreme right and extreme left find common ground, it undermines the center. An example quoted is religious conservatives and secular environmentalists who both feel a responsibility (for different reasons) to take care of the planet.

Their concern is that these ad hoc coalitions don't amount to 'sustainable' bipartisanship. I would argue that it's precisely because these groups contain members that would be at odds on other issues that such bipartisanship is valuable. Since they do not require and in fact undermine the extremist party leadership, across-the-aisle coalitions keep people talking whom the partisans would like to shore up as a loyal isolated base. By preventing the political opposition to be painted as all-bad, I think such coalitions are a force to keep politics civil and productive.

I certainly believe a strong and vital center is a boon. But it's less likely to succeed by further discouraging what little bipartisan cooperation there is than by facilitating ad hoc coalitions of the extremes in an effort to promote a centrist agenda.


[UPDATE] For an interesting example of circular polarization, see George Will embracing animal rights at The Yellow Line

2 Comments:

At 7:37 PM, Blogger Christopher Battles said...

Jeff, I really like your blog. It's good to see some other blogs like mine. I'm going to link to your site, if you don't mind. Check out mindofbattles.blogspot.com and let me know what you think. I'd love to trade links.

 
At 5:07 PM, Blogger Jiminy McCricket said...

Briefly, I agree. Clear self-identification within a camp is itself a major problem. I would love to see ad hoc majorities come together on this issue and that, left and right (so to speak).

 

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