Two award-winning political scientists provide the psychological key to America’s deadlocked politics, showing that we are divided not by ideologies but something deeper: personality differences that appear in everything from politics to parenting to the workplace to TV preferences, and which would be innocuous if only we could decouple them from our noxious political debate.
What’s in your garage: a Prius or a pickup? What’s in your coffee cup: Starbucks or Dunkin’ Donuts? What about your pet: cat or dog? As award-winning political scholars Marc Hetherington and Jonathan Weiler explain, even our smallest choices speak volumes about us—especially when it comes to our personalities and our politics. Liberals and conservatives seem to occupy different worlds because we have fundamentally different worldviews: systems of values that can be quickly diagnosed with a handful of simple parenting questions, but which shape our lives and decisions in the most elemental ways. If we're to overcome our seemingly intractable differences, Hetherington and Weiler show, we must first learn to master the psychological impulses that give rise to them, and to understand how politicians manipulate our mindsets for their own benefit.
Drawing on groundbreaking original research, Prius or Pickup? is an incisive, illuminating study of the fracturing of the American mind.
In this fascinating look at contemporary politics, political scientists Hetherington and Weiler (Authoritarianism and Polarization in American Politics) set out to explain what really causes the extreme political polarization seen today. They conclude that, for white Americans, it is not political ideology but underlying "worldviews" (expressed by where they live and work, which cars they buy, and even which styles of coffee they prefer) that determine their political affiliations. They find evidence of two opposing worldviews, which they call "fixed" and "fluid": the first is more fearful of outsiders, change, and uncertainty and favors hierarchy, and the second is more welcoming of complexity, nuance, and unfamiliarity. They argue that a "marriage of worldview and party" in American politics began to develop in the 1970s as party leaders reorganized their platforms around issues, like race, that touched voters' worldviews a sharp departure from the mixed-worldview political parties of the past, when the overriding American political issues were taxation and government size. The authors convincingly argue that the consequences of this polarization are deep and "toxic" in a book that will interest watchers of the political landscape of recent decades.