It’s been a year since the end Trump’s presidency, and the beginning of Biden’s. And while Biden pleaded for unity, and the healing of bitter political divisions in his inaugural speech, the country remains as divided as ever. 40% of Americans say in polls that they don’t believe Joe Biden is the legitimate president, and the International IDEA’s Global State of Democracy Report now classifies the United States a “backsliding democracy” sighting “runaway polarization” as one of the key threats.
So is there still hope for American democracy to recover? How exactly should we understand polarization? Is it possible to overcome it by engaging more with the opposite side? And how might reading old philosophy books, about different political realities help?
Robert Talisse is the W. Alton Jones Professor of Philosophy at Vandrbilt University, and author of a number of books on the nature of democracy, liberalism and the American pragmatist tradition. His most recent book is called Sustaining Democracy: What we Owe to the Other Side, by Oxford University Press.
Talisse is also himself the host of two podcasts: New Books in Philosophy podcast as well as the Why We Argue podcast.
The Institute of Art and Ideas article discussed in the episode can be found here: Democracy and the Polarization Trap.
This podcast is created in partnership with The Philosopher, the UK’s longest running public philosophy journal.
Music by Pataphysical: https://soundcloud.com/pataphysicaltransmission
Artwork by Nick Halliday: https://www.hallidaybooks.com/design