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Podcast, Ezra Klein Show

This week’s Podcast comes from Ezra Klein: “The Surprising Story of how American Politics Polarized.”

The link is available under Readings on Blackboard, or you can find it here.

Published inPodcasts


  1. Madeline Orr Madeline Orr

    Is there a way to predict what the government and the political parties will look like in the coming years and even several years from now? Will polarization continue within the system or will there be a shift back to what it was like in the mid 20th century? They discussed how Trump’s candidacy and election was not predicted in their view of the trajectory of the Presidency and motives of the political parties. Has this happened before?

  2. Olivia Cosco Olivia Cosco

    One thing that I found to be really interesting was when Klien discusses why we are so polarized. He tells us that big changes have happened in the media, because it now tracks people to figure out their political views and it feeds them more of that side. What stood out to me was that he says polarization isn’t necessarily bad. He believes we need two parties to compete. If this is true, then why do people want less polarization? Do you think we will move away from such strong polarization in the future?

  3. Zachary Andrews Zachary Andrews

    I found the podcast to be very interesting. There were a few thing that stuck with me while listening to the podcast. One of them is about how we have political parties who do not compromise even though our government system is built off of compromization. In addition to that, I also found it very interesting how Ezra and the co-host talked about how we believe we have the greatest government; however, during our era of imperialism, we never forced our way of government in another country. So is our political system really the best then? What can we change in our current political system to make it better?

  4. Kathrine Yeaw Kathrine Yeaw

    When Klein mentions how people many years ago could have been almost afraid of major party conflict because when they saw it before it ended in a civil war, it makes me think about the location of where people live and how that may affect one’s political views. Do you think the increase in polarized politics will create even more divided parts of the nation based on states, or as more people move around and ideas are spread, these areas dominated by one party will begin to fade away and the country will be more mixed across town/state borders?

  5. Sophia Picozzi Sophia Picozzi

    I really liked this podcast and found all of Klein’s points extremely interesting. In one of my other leadership classes, we are discussing polarization and how if you look at the election map for this year there is extreme polarization between cities and everywhere else. For every single state, you clicked on the cities where blue and surrounding areas were blue, however the farther away you get from the cities the redder the state becomes. So, my question is if we had a Civil War in the past between North and South, are we nearing a civil war between cities and rural areas?

  6. Olivia Cranshaw Olivia Cranshaw

    Although I disagreed with many of the points in this podcast, as the podcast itself was pretty polarising, I thought the influence of the change in media on the number of informed voters was extremely interesting. Voters who are less informed are more confident about their political decisions than the informed voters of the 70s, and today’s informed voters use the information they learn to fuel their own ideas and therefore become more connected to one party or the other. As non-informed voters typically vote through examining candidates on a few issues, rather than looking at their recommendations holistically, is this also a cause of division in our nation today? Should all voters have to be informed to vote, or is “being informed” a completely subjective idea and therefore negligible?

  7. Michael Childress Michael Childress

    Ezra Klein talked alot about how people tend to view American politics from a little bit of too much of an individual affair as opposed to seeing it as a wide scale issue or topic. I watched “the social dilemma” this semester and it talked about how social media use and capitalist policies of news outlets has been the leading driver of polarization. Furthermore, people even receive different news briefings based on their preferences because AI knows that one topic will keep person A more interested than person B. Therefore, it is really hard for us to agree on a truth, because in reality we are being exposed to different truths. To what extent to do you think social media has influenced polarization and in what ways?

  8. Sofia Adams Sofia Adams

    Ezra Klein discusses how American politics are polarized in a distinctive way as opposed to the rest of our history. As well as how we are polarized by more than just party. We are polarized by things like race and religion. This podcast left me with many different questions: If we have been polarized almost all of our history is their hope to come together as a united country again? Is there a leader who have the qualities to bring the country back together? What are the qualities of a leader needed to depolarize the country? How does the idea of Narrow self-interest play a role in polarization? Why do people choose to view the past in a more positive light than it deserves in order to say how bad conditions are today? How can we hope to combat polarization in this age of social media?

  9. Charley Blount Charley Blount

    I found it interesting that, in a one hour podcast about party polarization, gerrymandering was not mentioned once. If candidates were more concerned about opposition in the general election than they were about opposition in the primary election, wouldn’t party polarization be greatly diminished?

  10. Sara Moushegian Sara Moushegian

    Hearing the discussion around how our media has transformed over-time and how it has become more of a choice to be politically informed made me think of how I might have been influenced by the media during this recent election. While scrolling through Instagram and Twitter, the only posts regarding politics I saw were the ones that evoked a highly emotional response regarding the urgency of social reform and how Trump would not push for that. I follow both Democrats and Republicans, so I was curious why I saw no posts from the other side supporting Trump and stating facts why he should be elected. How can society make our media more holistically represented with facts from both sides, so we as voters can have easily accessible resources to be informed in an unbias way?

  11. Henry Groves Henry Groves

    This podcast with Ezra Klein brought up a couple really interesting points, and I enjoyed hearing his opinion on polarization today. The first point that I liked was how he said that no individual could solve the problem that society has with polarization; but rather, the polarization comes from the institutions in place. I believe that Americans try and blame people in charge for being the cause of the divide in America. Klein talks about how Trump is a product of polarization instead of the cause of it and how if he does not get re-elected, polarization will not leave from it. The idea that polarization is not new, and that the past had these same problems was another concept that I found interesting. Klein mentioned that present-day individuals try and make the past seem better to attempt to make the present seem worse. I could relate to this because sometimes I make it seem that the present-day has created more problems with the ability to communicate easier and hear more viewpoints. The question that I have is, “Do we think that polarization will get worse in the future, like from the past to today, or will society try and fix the problems with the division that we have created? Would a more moderate party be the answer to this?”

  12. Elina Bhagwat Elina Bhagwat

    I found this podcast very interesting and relevant especially after this most recent election. The main thing that I was wondering while listening is if we will ever live in a completely bipartisan or unpolarized society? Ezra Klein talked about the long history of polarization which makes me think that there’s not much hope for ever getting rid of polarization. Do you think polarization comes from people refusing to look at the other perspective or just because people are generally very set in their ways and individualistic? I also thought the idea of Trump being a product of polarization to be very interesting but I wasn’t sure if I completely agreed with Klein’s argument. While Trump may have been a product of polarization, do you think he also contributed to making the US more polarized or was that inevitable?

  13. Thomas Bennett Thomas Bennett

    Ezra Klein mentioned that prior to the Civil Rights Movement 4 major political parties existed. He said that during that time in American politics much less polarization occurred. Is it possible that America could once again move to a point where more than one political party exists?

    • Thomas Bennett Thomas Bennett

      edit: Is it possible that America could once again move to a point where more than two political parties exist?

  14. Michael Stein Michael Stein

    I found the section of the podcast surrounding the idea of self interest to be very interesting. Many people on the left often cite that lots of Trump voters vote against their own self interest; however, Klein says this isn’t true. Klein mentions that self interest is just as much about identity as it is about economics. While Klein almost exclusively looks at this issue as something the left does to the right, does it go both ways? Do both sides fail to understand what self-interest truly means? How does this contribute to polarization.

  15. Mia Slaunwhite Mia Slaunwhite

    In Ezra Klein podcast, he states this idea of self-interest. When it comes to politics, is it better to try to appeal to the voters, or what each individual wants? and how would that affect the outcome of elections and other citizen voters?

  16. Alexander Dimedio Alexander Dimedio

    What can Joe Biden do to bring the country together? Can we blame former presidents for the polarization, or it is a problem stemming from people and culture? The United States of America is currently a two party system, would a higher number of parties bridge the polarization gap that has grown drastically?

  17. Isabela Keetley Isabela Keetley

    A comment Klein and his co-host mentioned that really stuck with me was the idea that the US expanded into many different countries however, when we did this, we never enforced our system of government. Instead, we created newer and better forms of government for these new nations. I ask, Why did we do this if we continue to say the the United States is the best? Can American Exceptionalism continue to exist even if we don’t believe we are exceptional in certain categories? I also wonder, if we were never this polarized, is this just the beginning? Are we going to continue to grow apart as a nation, or will we somehow find our way back?

  18. William Clifton William Clifton

    I think the questioning and confusion of polarization within American politics is so valid. I was so confused, emotionally tired, and sad by the reactions of both parties before, during, and after the 2020 election. I saw hypocrisy from both sides, and a lack of empathy. Klein made a comment that actually left me even more confused on the matter. He said polarization isn’t necessarily a bad thing. My question, is how can that be? If you look at our current competition between the two major parties, the polarization seems to be in no way positive.

  19. Mohamad Kassem Mohamad Kassem

    Ezra Klein discussed in this podcast how the American society and the political parties are polarized. Besides, he talked about how race and religion have polarized people as well. Something that was interesting to hear was when he said that Trump is actually the “product of polarization, not the cause of it” something that I haven’t actually thought about. I was always sure that Trump as a leader made people more violent and more polarized than they have even been, especially during the times of the riots when he defended the police, called protesters “thugs”, and refused to protect racial minorities. How and to what extent do you think the increased political activism contribute to widening the gap between the two parties’ platforms.

  20. Maggie Otradovec Maggie Otradovec

    The Ezra Klein podcast focused political polarization and how it’s not that unique. While our country has been quite polarized in recent years, there have been worse periods, such as prior to and during the Civil War. What makes the present so unique is media. Technology has allowed for the creation of many different media outlets, all of which are focused on appealing to a certain type of political opinion. Klein also makes a fantastic point that polarization is not the fault of one person (Trump seems to assume the blame in this scenario), but rather the institution. If this is the case, why don’t we work on better understanding the other sides and find a compromise to reform this institution?

  21. Pierce Kaliner Pierce Kaliner

    Klein talked about how America really isn’t a democracy, and he used the electoral college and the Senate to show just how. The 2016 election Clinton won by 3 million votes, and still lost. And, he says that by 2040 30% of the senate will be representing 70% of the country. I wonder is there anything that we can do to fix that? And if not what does that mean for the future of the country?

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