Conflict Resolution and Depolarization Seminar: The Cavalry Is Not Coming


Thursday, October 28, 2021, 4:00pm to 5:15pm


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Virtual Event
According to legend, Ben Franklin informed a Philadelphia lady in 1787 that the Constitutional Convention had created a republic rather than a monarchy, “if you can keep it.” But what can individual citizens do to “keep” a republic? In his Farewell Address nine years later, George Washington offered a potential answer: resist extreme partisanship.
This presentation considers whether partisanship in America today poses a threat to the Republic. In terms of ideology and policy preferences, disagreement among American partisans today is modest. But when it comes to feelings toward opposing partisans, dislike is curdling into hatred. A major foundation for this hatred is a distorted perception of opposing partisans, which means that we’re fighting phantoms rather than adversaries.
There are many solutions to our increasingly sectarian politics, but they will be difficult to implement insofar as we—the individuals who make up America’s body politic—prioritize political victory over the norms of mutual toleration and forbearance (Levitsky Ziblatt, 2018) that are required to sustain democratic government. 
About the speaker:
Eli Finkel -- author of the bestselling book The All-Or-Nothing Marriage: How the Best Marriages Work -- is a professor at Northwestern University, where he has appointments in the psychology department and the Kellogg School of Management. He studies romantic relationships and American politics. In his role as director of Northwestern’s Relationships and Motivation Lab (RAMLAB), he has published ~150 scientific papers and is a contributor to the Op-Ed page of The New York Times. The Economist has identified him as "one of the leading lights in the realm of relationship psychology.”
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