Uncommon Knowledge

RED AND BLUE ALL OVER: The Political Divide in America

Monday, May 3, 2004

During the past decade, neither the Democrats nor the Republicans have been able to capture a majority of the vote in national elections. In fact, the country hasn't been so evenly divided since the 1870s. Some say this is evidence of a culture war and a political divide that has split the country into two Americas. Others disagree, arguing that in fact most Americans are in the moderate middle and are divided on relatively few issues. Who's right?

Recorded on Monday, May 3, 2004

Peter Robinson: Today on Uncommon Knowledge: one nation, divisible?

Announcer: Funding for this program is provided by the John M. Olin Foundation.


Peter Robinson: Welcome to Uncommon Knowledge, I'm Peter Robinson. Our show today: the political divide in America, how deep and how wide? For about a decade now, neither Republicans nor Democrats have been able to capture an outright majority in any national election. In fact, the country hasn't been this evenly divided since the 1870s. Some say this is evidence of a culture war that has divided the country into the two Americas. Others say nonsense. Most Americans are right where most Americans have always been: right in the moderate middle. Who's correct?

Joining us, three guests. Daron Shaw is a professor of government at the University of Texas at Austin. Morris Fiorina is a Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution. And David Brooks is a columnist for The New York Times and the author most recently of On Paradise Drive.

Title: Rhapsody in Blue (and Red)

Peter Robinson: Democratic pollster Stanley Greenberg, in his new book, The Two Americas, "Today we are trapped in an ugly parity that drives both parties, each tantalizingly close to tasting the fruits of victory to more intense battles that leave the country more divided and its citizens forced to choose between contending cultures and increasingly between two Americas." Deeply and bitterly divided. Mo?

Morris Fiorina: Absolutely false.

Peter Robinson: Absolutely false? Daron?

Daron Shaw: False.

Peter Robinson: We're going down the scale, now you're going to say it's true?

David Brooks: It's true for those of us stuck in the political class. It's not true for a lot of other people.

Peter Robinson: Okay. We'll get back to the two Americas in a moment. First this notion of parity. There is something to the notion of parity, is there not? 1880s to the election of Franklin Roosevelt, dominated by Republicans. '32 up until about the 1980s, Democratic Party tends to dominate national politics. Republicans get the White House half the time, but the Democrats dominate in Congress and the state houses. And we reach the 1990s and Clinton is re-elected in '96 with 49.2% of the vote. Republicans capture a majority in the House in '96 with 48.9%. '98 with 48.9% and in 2000 with 48.3% and in 2000, Al Gore gets 48.4% and George W. Bush gets 47.9 % of the popular vote. Nobody can break 50%. What does this mean?

David Brooks: Well, I do agree with that. I do think we're divided. The stability is one of the most amazing features. I'd say it even goes deeper than that. I think if you add all the votes on state legislature elections and add them all together, you still come out with rough parity. And if you just look over this presidential election forthcoming versus the one of 2000. We've had 9/11. We've had two wars. We've had a recession. We've had the whole Florida imbroglio and we're still back where we are. Where we were. It's like everything in America changes except the poll results. And I'm kind of struck by that stability, even more than the parity.

Peter Robinson: To find America as evenly divided you have to go back to the 1870s. Hayes loses the popular vote, beats Tilden by one vote in the Electoral College. Can you give me some--why are we in this moment? What is the parallel?

Daron Shaw: What we've noted for a long time actually this sort of continued declination of the New Deal coalition. So, you had the Roosevelt coalition which was essentially made up of, you know, union members, Catholics, poor whites, the white South, along with ethnic minorities which is sort of an incompatible coalition in a lot of ways--the white South plus ethnic minorities. And what you've seen, you know, since the 1930s and '40s is sort of over time you know the dissolution of a twenty point advantage, you know, to the point where it's ten, five, and now about parity. But it's the groups that have sort of shifted that are of interest to me and I think are probably important for understanding long term trends. Which is, you know, white South has sort of drifted to independence and then you know pretty much firmly sort of committed to the Republican Party. Ethnic minorities move, you know, from being marginally a Democratic group to being, you know, almost completely Democratic and that's produced not only a change in the aggregate distribution, which is Republicans have generally benefited from that change...

Peter Robinson: Picked up...

Daron Shaw: Right. But it's also resulted in parties that are more ideologically cohesive.

Peter Robinson: Next point, because we've talked about parity. Republicans achieve electoral parity, electoral parity with Democrats for the first time in ages and ages and ages during the last decade. But this term that Greenberg uses: "ugly".

Morris Fiorina: The ugliness occurs at the very top echelons of both parties as David mentioned. The political class is highly polarized and what's happened in the country is there's been a lot of sorting--that basically there aren't any more partisans, any more ideologues than there were thirty years ago. Americans are no more extreme in their views, but they found their way into the right parties. And largely has to do with of the realignment of South, some of the groups that Daron mentions here, that you now have a much more homogeneous Republican Party, a more homogeneous Democratic Party, and so at the very high levels there is ugliness, there is polarization, but it fades out very quickly as you go down into the bulk of the population.

Peter Robinson: Let's follow up on Mo's idea that Americans have finally sorted themselves into the right parties.

Title: It's (Not) My Party

Peter Robinson: Tell me what these names have in common. This is a bonus point question. Hugh Scott of Pennsylvania, Jacob Javits of New York, Charles Mathias of Maryland, Edward Brooks of Massachusetts...

Morris Fiorina: Old-time liberal Republicans.

Peter Robinson: And liberal Republicans don't exist anymore...

Morris Fiorina: That's right.

Peter Robinson: ...virtually anywhere.

Morris Fiorina: You can do the same thing on the Democratic side with old-line Southern Democrat conservatives, who aren't there for the most part anymore.

Peter Robinson: Okay, so the question then is--this sorting out that used to be liberal Republicans, now the GOP is conservative. Used to be conservative Dem--now the Democrats are liberal. Furthermore, there's a regional edge, right? Jump in. Correct me if I'm wrong here, but the solid South is now solid for the GOP. The Northeast is Democratic at least at the presidential and the senatorial level in a way that it didn't used to be. So, Greenberg is right about this ugliness. I'm trying to get you to say the ugliness does extend down into the ordinary voters...

Morris Fiorina: No, no, it doesn't...

Peter Robinson: ...into ordinary political culture. Now it...

Morris Fiorina: If you look at public opinion data on what people's positions are, even on issues like abortion that define the party differences at the upper level. They are just not there, that big. Even if you compare things like the eleven states of the old Confederacy with the states of the Northeast and the West Coast, what ordinary people feel about issues like this is just, you know, largely different and people have assumed that the kind of polarization they see at the upper echelons penetrates way down in and it doesn't.

Peter Robinson: Go ahead, David.

David Brooks: Surely there's 20 million people at least for whom this does really matter. I mean, if you look at the bestseller list, you look at the people buying Al Franken and Michael Moore, that's not just a thin crust of an elite.

Morris Fiorina: Well, you know, if you divide the population up, about 3%-5% of the population we can call political activists. They are extremely polarized. Maybe 30% could be strong identifiers...

Peter Robinson: That's a few million people.

Morris Fiorina: Strong identifiers you see some increase in polarization when you get to the 30% or the weak identifiers, the 20% who are independent leaners there's virtually no polarization and, of course, independence in about 10% of the population. Now what's happened is that people who participate in politics, always by definition, these are the people for whom it really matters. And so the people the press talk to, the people we observe in politics are this upper crust.

David Brooks: If I could just press you with two little statistics which, to me, and I think I basically agree with you, but there are statistics out there suggesting there is some deeper split. It goes down, maybe not as passionate, but it's deeper. The first one is regards President Bush. President Bush is more popular with members of his own party than any President in 50 years, more unpopular with Democrats than any President has been with an opposing party in 50 years. That's a nationwide poll that suggests people all up and down the political class spectrum look at this guy and have totally opposite reactions.

Morris Fiorina: Yeah. Yeah, the fact is that all the indications people talk about in polarization confuse two things. It's not just what the voter's positions is, it's what the candidate's position is or the President. And ask yourself what would those presidential approval ratings look like if the President was John McCain? One of the things I show in the book I have coming out is that you can make the appearance of voter polarization by simply moving the candidates around.

Peter Robinson: Next: a changing political agenda and the polarization of American voters.

Title: Culture Vultures

Peter Robinson: From the 1880s clear through to the 1980s fundamentally what's at stake are questions of national security and economics and divvying up the pie, so to speak--redistribution. And then along come the 1960s and now we do have culture on the political agenda in a way that it never used to be before. So, comment on the following quotation. Patrick Buchanan 1992 Republican National Convention. "There is a religious war going on in America. A cultural war is critical to the kind of nation we shall be as the cold war itself, for this is a war for the soul of America." Something to it?

Daron Shaw: For Pat Buchanan, I think it's absolutely true. One of the reasons for the breakdown of the New Deal coalition is the injection of this second dimension to American politics. Which is you know...

Peter Robinson: Culture. Morality...

Daron Shaw: Yeah. And initially race is a dominant part of that, but certainly culture and traditional American values, however you want to define it. The reality is a hodge-podge of issues, right? Abortion, school prayer, these things are all kind of bound up in it, but there's a sense that Democrats are more progressive or liberal on these things. Republicans are more traditional. That has helped sort out the system. You know, getting conservatives to the Republican Party and liberals to the Democratic Party. But the data I've seen--and a lot of these actually are Mo's data--suggested on issues like abortion, or even on gay marriage, that by and large most Americans actually favor some sort of accomodationist position. Whether that's, you know, abortion, with some restrictions, parameters imposed on it. Whereas gay--civil unions are okay, gay marriage we're not so hot on, but I think it is the case that if you talk to sort of a broad swath of Americans, you still get this kind of moderation. That's not to deny that at the top levels--and a lot of us are responding, even voters, partisans in particular, are responding to this increasingly polarized debate. It absolutely has occurred at the elite level. I think it's because elites genuinely care about these things and think they're important and I also think there are some who think there's partisan advantage to some…

David Brooks: I'm finding myself withdrawing from my own thesis that there isn't a big partisan split. In part because, it's not as if a John McCain or a Joe Lieberman can get elected in this country. Somehow the system is structured to only allow people who are pretty extreme or pretty solid in their views to get elected. Therefore, if in theory there's no polarization on the electorate it doesn't matter, because in the reality we're stuck in a polarized game. And secondly, it seems to me there is a distinction, the famous correlation that everybody draws in the last election is church attendance.

Daron Shaw: Right.

David Brooks: That if you go to church a lot you're likely to be a Republican, if you never go, you're likely to be Democrat and that suggests there is--it's not a clear, black and white value distinction, but it strikes me there is a difference between...

Peter Robinson: Likewise, marriage is also a strong predictor.

Daron Shaw: With children, particularly.

Peter Robinson: So it does seem to be that family values and religion are at play in American politics as they were not before. We can all agree on that, right?

Morris Fiorina: Who put them in play? Did the voters put them in play? Or did the candidates and parties put them in play?

Peter Robinson: Well, the Supreme Court of the United States to a large extent...

Morris Fiorina: Yeah, about abortion they did, but think about this. Why would church attendance have been related to the presidential vote when you had Mondale running against Reagan? Or you had Dukakis running against Bush basically? That those weren't their issues. It was Clinton who brought church attendance onto the agenda. That as long as all the candidates were middle-class types who had supportive, loving wives, good kids, they went to church on Sundays that wasn't a dimension in the contest. But when you have...

Peter Robinson: Even though abortion was certainly an issue in the '80s.

Morris Fiorina: No, abortion was, but what I'm saying is that the relation with church attendance suddenly appears in the data in 1992. It's not significant before that and I think that has to do with Bill Clinton smoking...

Peter Robinson: But not inhaling.

Morris Fiorina: Yes, I mean he brought those issues in.

Peter Robinson: There's a certain sense in which I suppose, if only to be provocative, I'm arguing that the electorate is now bi-polar. You've got a large group of voters clumping over here to the right and a large group of voters clumping over here to the left. You're saying that's not the case.

Morris Fiorina: Not the case.

Peter Robinson: But, if it is the case, that the bell-curve so to speak of voters, is what it's always been, why is it that John McCain can't get elected or Joe Lieberman can't get elected? Why should a bell-curve like this--all the incentives from political science argue that the presidential candidates should drive for the middle, but that's not what's happening. Is it? Daron?

Daron Shaw: To win a primary...

Peter Robinson: The primaries.

Daron Shaw: To use the bell-shaped curve analogy. Well, you do have two bell-shaped curves. One over here on the left and one on the right and that you have to win--and actually it's not even a bell-shaped curve it's actually skewed.

Peter Robinson: So it is flattened out a little bit?

Daron Shaw: Well, if you're talking about the Republican primaries it's over here on the right to begin with and then it skews to the right. The same with the Democrats on the left. You know, this election actually was sort of interesting because Howard Dean was clearly, I think, ideologically sort of the preferred candidate for most Democratic primary voters but there was a perception that voters in some sense set aside their ideological preference in supporting a candidate they thought would be more competitive in the general election, which is not really what we expect to happen. We expect them, you know, sort of classically to sort of shoot themselves in the foot, nominate their preferred ideological candidate, who then can't run in the center.

Peter Robinson: That's why Dean lost. You're arguing that in the primaries, Democrats...

Daron Shaw: The data seem to suggest that they preferred Kerry, not because they liked his positions on the issues, but because they thought he was the most credible candidate, you know, to defeat Bush. Now what this means for our conversation actually I'm a little ambivalent about. I mean, you could argue that, wow, they're more strategic, they favor a centrist candidate or you can argue that they're so polarized that anybody they thought had a credible chance to beat Bush was the acceptable candidate.

David Brooks: I just argue they were stupid. Yeah, because when you vote on the basis of which candidate matches your opinions, you vote on something you know a lot about. You know your opinions, you can figure out their opinions. When you vote on which candidate will please Miami voters in November you know nothing about that subject and you're just guessing.

Peter Robinson: Another take on culture, the culture of everyday life and its impact on politics...

Title: The Wal-Mart Test

Peter Robinson: Art Finkelstein, political consultant, says that you could blindfold him, put him in a car, anywhere in America, and by pressing the dial he could tell whether he was in a Republican country or Democratic country. Republican country: more country music stations. Democratic: more hard rock. Culture as it is actually lived; Americans have sorted themselves out into communities in which politics is one expression of a larger culture. Do you go for that?

David Brooks: He's wrong about hard rock.

Peter Robinson: He's wrong about hard rock?

David Brooks: You can find hard rock everywhere.


David Brooks: But nonetheless, I basically think that's true. And that's why I'm having a little problem, while I agree there's not polarization anger; it just can't be an accident that every coastal cosmopolitan place went Democratic. Every, even upper middle-class inner ring suburb on the coastal and secular areas went Democratic. Rural areas overwhelmingly Republican. That just can't be an accident if people are not polarized. And I do think it's become less a culture war in the way Buchanan talks about '60s versus '90s. I think it's been more sort of an identity war, personality war. Are you like me? Do you like Wal-Mart? If you like Wal-Mart, then I think you're probably a Republican. If you think it's sort of rapacious, I find when I talk to people they're more likely to be socially liberal--they're more likely to be Democrats. And it's, do you lead the lifestyle I tend to lead when they--a lot of people look at George Bush--a certain sort of people looks at him and says, simple straight-forward man of faith. I like that guy. Another population looks at him and says, moron. Never read a book. No intellectual curiosity. To me there is some sort of value divide between those two groups of people which...

Peter Robinson: What? Okay, so what does it say to us that we, David and I, feel that we can put together a questionnaire with only three questions? Do you go to church or synagogue once a week? Do you like Wal-Marts? And do you listen to country music? And if the answer to all three of those is yes, we've got a Republican without a single question about politics. What does that say about political life in America today? Mo?

Morris Fiorina: Well, first it wouldn't predict quite as well as you're saying. There's a lot of oversimplification in this, yeah. Just because there are new alignments doesn't mean there's polarization. And when I was growing up you could go into a neighborhood and you looked at the guys coming out in their black t-shirts, with their lunch pails going to the mills, those were Democrats.

Peter Robinson: What neighborhood was that?

Morris Fiorina: Western Pennsylvania, Pittsburgh.

Peter Robinson: Pittsburgh.

Morris Fiorina: Yeah, and on the other hand, you went into a suburban neighborhood where the guys are going out in white shirts and ties, you knew those were Republicans. Now, what Daron has pointed out, there are new alignments now and so people have aligned on different issues. That doesn't necessarily mean they're polarized and what's happened--you're talking about the cosmopolitan areas of the coast, these are areas, which despite their high income, in many cases, are nevertheless pro-choice. They don't want to bash gays. They're pro-environment. And so the Republican Party's move away on those issues is what has cost the Republican Party support among the affluent people who at one time would have been natural Republicans.

Peter Robinson: All right. On to a new topic. What will it take for each of the parties to end this political deadlock?

Title: Turn Out the Lights, the Parity's Over

Peter Robinson: Enough about parity. Let's talk about the coming Republican break-out. I'm looking for amusement. Ah, we get amusement. All right. Karl Rove has become famous in the past few months for making a couple of predictions in the redistricting that resulted from the 2000 census, red states, Republican states picked up electoral votes. Even if Bush carried only the same states in 2004 that he carried in 2000, he'd win by a bigger margin than the Electoral College. Item one. Item two: in 2003 more Americans identified themselves as Republicans than as Democrats for the first time in the history of the Gallup organization which conducted this poll. Are we witnessing an end to ugly parity and observing the beginnings of a Republican break-out? You laughed most heartily when I suggested that.

Morris Fiorina: Well, no.

Peter Robinson: No?

Morris Fiorina: No. I mean...

Peter Robinson: Nothing to it?

Morris Fiorina: No, no I don't think they have governed in a way that can put an end to the parity.

Peter Robinson: David?

David Brooks: I basically agree with that. In the first place, there are two plausible theories...

Peter Robinson: This is a whole segment that's going nowhere...

David Brooks: Controlling the future. Well, this is an interesting subject. There are people--there's a guy--there are two people Ruy Teixeira and John Judis who argue that, you've got minorities, you've got intellectual class, the idea class, and you've got union members and there are more intellectuals or college-educated information age workers and a lot more Hispanics entering the electorate every year. Therefore, the Democratic side of the electorate is growing. There's another guy, a journalist, Michael Barone, who argues the fast growing suburbs are growing very quickly and therefore the Republican side is growing.

Peter Robinson: There's a journalist called David Brooks, who argues the same from time to time.

David Brooks: A little. Not as strongly as Michael. I basically don't buy any of this. I think events determine elections and what happens and how parties react to it is going to be determinative.

Peter Robinson: And what has happened to the parity?

David Brooks: Nothing...

Peter Robinson: In light of 9/11?

David Brooks: Nothing.

Peter Robinson: Nothing?

David Brooks: I mean, some people say the 2002 election was 52/48 or something. I do not see either candidate breaking through this parity.

Peter Robinson: David, forgive me, but I must quote you to yourself. This appeared in a little known publication called The New York Times. "The war on terror has brought to the foreground issues that divide Democrats and push to the background, issues that divide Republicans." You wish to recant?

David Brooks: That was when the Dean campaign was at its peak and most of the article's statistics in that were Dean versus Bush. I think with Kerry it's a much closer race. Nonetheless, I still think that's fundamentally true. That Democrats are more divided over the war than Republicans are where there's almost no division. Nonetheless, if you look at how people are actually going to vote, I think it's possible for the Republicans to make a pro-war majority, but I think the Bush administration has passed that opportunity by for a number of mystifying reasons.

Peter Robinson: Go ahead. You are now Karl Rove. How do you council George Bush to run from now, this show will air in September, until Election Day?

David Brooks: Oh, well listen, it's too late. The biggest mistake the many--one of the mistakes on this line that the administration made was in not pulling in the pro-war Democrats--the liberal hawks, Joe Biden, Hillary Clinton, Evan Bayh of Indiana. There were a whole group of Democrats who were supporting the war.

Peter Robinson: Did you just say "pull in Hillary Clinton"?

David Brooks: She was a pro-war Democrat. In World War II...

Peter Robinson: Who could have been persuaded to vote for George W. Bush?

David Brooks: No, I'm not saying vote for...

Peter Robinson: Okay. They represent a portion of the electorate.

David Brooks: ...I'm saying come in...

Peter Robinson: Oh I see.

David Brooks: ...talk a lot, become part of a bi-partisan coalition, a center right coalition to explain the war, to get involved in planning the war. That's what--FDR brought in Republicans in 1940-41. And that would have been a step across the partisan divide that would have the opportunity to have not only run the war a lot better, but to have actually spread beyond what are the orthodox party positions. And for reasons which I think are wrong, they decided not to do that sort of thing.

Peter Robinson: Okay. A political scientist visits Washington, you're now advising John Kerry and the aim here is to end this parity and achieve a break-out. Can it be done? How do you advise Kerry? How do you advise the Democrats to do it?

Daron Shaw: The basis upon which Kerry expands the Democratic coalition isn't clear to me.

Peter Robinson: It's not?

Daron Shaw: No, I think he can cobble together fifty-plus and win the election. I think that's absolutely possible, but longer term I don't see what the basis is outside of pure demographic expansion.

Peter Robinson: David tells Bush it's too late. Daron tells Kerry, I'm not sure how you do this. You may choose whom to advise Bush or Kerry. Alas, it's television we don't have time to listen to your advice to both. Choose one and tell them how to break out of the deadlock.

Morris Fiorina: I'll advise Kerry, because I agree with David, it's too late for Bush and Rove to do anything at this point. But in Kerry's sense, it's you have to sit and wait and hope to win because the elections are referendum on Bush. But once in office, then he's got four years to govern in a different way. And basically Bill Clinton ran in the way I think a Democrat can run and form a new majority. But then once in office Bill Clinton merged to the left of Congressional Democrats and blew his opportunity. And so that would be a way for Kerry to govern.

Peter Robinson: You're advocating for the Democrats to break out of parity a Third Way...

Morris Fiorina: Yes. Move toward the center on economics, continue Bill Clinton type of economic policies and de-emphasize to some extent the social cultural issues we talked about and don't get caught out in extremes, that's not where the American public is.

Peter Robinson: Last topic. Our political experts lay it on the line. Predictions.

Title: Chroma Zones

Peter Robinson: Senate today. Republicans: 51 seats. Democrats: 48. Jeffords calls himself an independent, effectively a Democrat. After the election? Any big change? David?

David Brooks: If you had asked me in the beginning of 2004, I would have said almost certainly the Republicans will control the Senate. Now I still think there's a 60% chance or so, but it's no longer quite as certain for a number of reasons.

Peter Robinson: Effectively will end up 50-50. Nobody's going to get a big gain?

David Brooks: I would say that of both bodies.

Peter Robinson: Daron?

Daron Shaw: I think they'll lose Alaska and I think they'll lose Illinois. I'll think they'll pick up four seats in the open seats in the South. I think they're plus two overall.

Peter Robinson: Net gain of two, precisely because the Southern realignment continues.

Daron Shaw: Yes.

Peter Robinson: Mo?

Morris Fiorina: Same thing. Probably gain one or two in the Senate. Very little change in the House.

Peter Robinson: Okay. House of Representatives: 228 Republicans, 205 Democratic, 1 Independent, 1 vacant. We'll assume the vacant gets filled. But to me at least the interesting thing in the House is that the South is pretty well tapped out. So, call that one. What do you think? Any big changes in the House?

Morris Fiorina: No.

Daron Shaw: No. The Texas redistricting case I think gives the Republicans plus four or five, almost purely as a basis of redistricting.

David Brooks: Right, I think the Census drives the House these days.

Peter Robinson: Okay. So, no big change in the House. Republicans retain a majority of 50%. The big ones. 48/48 effectively in 2000. Who wins the Presidency and at what margin?

Morris Fiorina: It all depends on events. If there's another major domestic terrorist incident, Bush loses.

Peter Robinson: Bush loses? You don't think the country rallies to the President?

Morris Fiorina: Unless you do it in the final weekend because no, what Daron was just saying if there's a big incident, then after we mourn and bury our dead, then Kerry comes on and says why did we waste 1,000 men, $200 billion in two years on this distraction in Iraq when we let the real murderers run around? I don't think there's a really credible answer.

Peter Robinson: And there's time to say that between September and Election Day?

Morris Fiorina: Yeah.

Peter Robinson: Daron?

Daron Shaw: I think Bush plus three to five. What I'm basically doing is flipping a coin right now and saying that if security is at a premium then you probably go with Bush. And when Iraq blows up...

Peter Robinson: Four years later there's nothing has changed really. You're still saying it's a coin toss and it will be some big event that flips the coin...

David Brooks: The hopeful event that comes out of this program is that it's not inevitable. Where I live in Washington, it's ugly. It's just ugly. It's just terrible to be in this circumstance, but if we're not polarized as a nation, then that means there's a structural reason we're polarized at the elite level and in the political process. And that means if it's a structural problem then there's possibly a structural solution. It's not endemic to American society and so that's sort of an optimistic thing you can take in of all the data we've been talking about.

Peter Robinson: There's no structural solution on the horizon though is there? Because of the parties sorting out on ideological lines is what makes things so ugly in Washington? Right?

David Brooks: Right, but it could be an individual. An individual could come along and change this.

Peter Robinson: Oh, I see. A national version of Arnold Schwarzenegger, who's apolitical?

David Brooks: Exactly. Yeah.

Peter Robinson: I see. Okay. David Brooks, Daron Shaw, Mo Fiorina. Thank you very much.

Peter Robinson: I'm Peter Robinson for Uncommon Knowledge, thanks for joining us.