The Austin, Texas, American-Statesman is running an important series of stories on American politics. The trend it reveals appears to be unfolding in Cascadia, too.
The rub: American politics is more polarized than ever because Americans have spent the last three decades sorting themselves geographically by their political leanings. Counties, not just states, have split between red and blue.
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Conservatives live among and talk with other conservatives; liberals do the same with other liberals. These increasingly homogeneous groupings reinforce themselves and ideological divides widen. Fewer counties than ever are competitive in presidential elections.
Similar factional divergence is evident in state government in the Northwest states, both in state houses and in ballot measures. The impact has largely been to stymie meaningful reform, fact-based public discourse, and political compromise. In British Columbia, with its parliamentary winner-takes-all system of government, polarization has led to extreme swings in policy.
Wanted: talented statistician who’ll volunteer to gather and examine the numbers for our region.