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Christopher Wilson Blog Post 11/16

The Ezra Klein podcast on America’s political polarization gave me more insight into politics, especially after the recent presidential election. Specifically, I was enlightened by Klein’s claim that as people become more politically engaged, they vote less on self-interest and more on identity expression. In other words, as more people become informed voters, they cast votes for candidates whose campaign deliverables resonate with their- the voter- identity and values rather than their selfish interests. In applying this knowledge to the 2020 Electoral College map, I am highly disturbed at the scale of voters who identified with the Trump administration’s policies and core values. While I respect their beliefs, I wonder if Klein’s speculation- that for a just democracy to rule, older white men in positions of power and authority will need to be replaced with political leaders of color- will ever happen. What cost will those of us who are not white and privileged pay if it does happen?

On another note, Zinn’s chapter on “The Unreported Resistance” captured various civil disobedience acts that are not covered in most K-12 educational institutions, especially if those institutions are public with the state dictating what the curriculum should be. For instance, throughout the 1980s, Americans aggressively protested the Reagan administration’s focus on producing nuclear weapons. Americans did not want a nuclear war to be the penultimate product of the Cold War. Even though I found these acts of resistance inspiring, I am still curious about how corrupt institutions, such as the federal government, were not overthrown by the public majority. I recall at the beginning of our course, Dr. Bezio mentioned that it only takes 12% of a population to overthrow a system. Hence, I wonder if the number of people involved in these resistance acts was not large enough to execute change on a macro-level. Perhaps, this is when the role of media, and now, social media, plays an integral role in either motivating or discouraging people from acting against an institution or institutions.

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  1. Michael Childress Michael Childress

    I definitely agree with your last point, that news media, and now social media absolutely has its own motives and intentions of which way to sway the general public on almost all issues. Because of this, we hardly ever get non biased news, thus leading us to further polarization. Your previous point about not remembering learning about so much resistance also reminded me of a quote towards the end of the chapter. Zinn quotes a student as he writes “It seemed to me as if the publishers had printed up some glory story that was supposed to make us feel more patriotic about our country” (Zinn p. 628). It is very important to keep this in mind when learning about new stages of history, always considering the motives or biases of those telling the story.

  2. Maggie Otradovec Maggie Otradovec

    It seems as though education is a slow moving ship that takes a long time to correct its course in terms of revisionist history. The administrations of the late 20th century were controversial to say the very least, but many people who did not live through them don’t know all the details.

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