Will There Always Be Blood, Hair, and Eyeballs on the Floor? Congress’s Quest for Unity in a Political Culture That Courts Conflict

Presented on: Tuesday, June 16th at 12:00 PM EDT

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  • Bibliography
    A list of books and articles to which Ron will refer to during his talk.
  • Responses to more questions
    Ron took some time to provide additional reflections from many of your questions we didn't get to.

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Political scientists often explain partisan polarization in the United States by citing legal or institutional features of American government and politics that have caused the parties to lurch apart (e.g., gerrymandered House districts, porous campaign finance regulations, primary elections that encourage candidates to cater to the most extreme elements of their parties, etc.). Less often explored but perhaps more significant and disquieting is the possibility that there has been a tectonic shift in American political culture, one that has seen the country in the last few decades move from what the political scientists Gabriel Almond and Sidney Verba called back in the 1960s a “civic culture” to a “conflictual culture,” one that is more akin to that which was extant in the 18th and 19th centuries when political disputers were often resolved through acts of violence. This webinar will both present and interrogate the thesis that a cultural change has propelled much of the partisan division and rhetorical rancor that has seemed to become modal features of American political life. Ronald P. Seyb is an Associate Professor of Political Science at Skidmore College in Saratoga Springs, New York. He received his B.A. in 1982 from the University of California, Irvine, and his Ph.D. in 1988 from Yale University. He teaches courses on the American presidency, the United States Congress, political psychology, and the media and politics. His research interests include media history, presidential management of the executive branch, and political oratory. He has published articles in American Journalism, Journalism History, American Journalism, Media History Monographs, Presidential Studies Quarterly, The Journal of Policy History, and California Politics and Policy.