Past and Present
If in a classic American Studies fashion we use the articles in this volume to unpack the larger and multiple contexts of the “dense fact” of the current political stalemate,1 the diagnosis is serious. As Michael R. Wolf, J. Cherie Strachan, and Daniel M. Shea have found, not only is the U.S. electorate divided on which specific policies would be desirable for the federal government to adopt and implement. Voters show little acceptance for governing by compromise even in the abstract. Combined with a knee-jerk psychology that blames one’s opponents for any impasse, this dynamic leads to intransigent voters electing intransigent candidates to political office.
Americans have become divided even about the earth’s climate. As Helena Schulzová shows, the issue of climate change has become a battleground in U.S. federal politics even as it receded on the voters’ agenda amidst the global recession. As a result of lobbying and partisan rhetoric, green policies have been recast as a squarely liberal Democratic agenda, and in the 2012 presidential election the topic of climate change was downplayed by one side and flippantly criticized by the other, serving as a wedge issue for federal politicians.
Moving out from the U.S. Congress in concentric circles, the ideological divisions of federal politics are echoed in the inequalities of U.S. education. It is common knowledge that inner city schools are often poor, dangerous, and underperform in learning and testing. As Radosław Rybkowski demonstrates, the distance between ← 307 | 308...
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