West Burning. Covid Rising. US Politics is Stagnant.


The sirens became quite difficult to ignore.

Forest fires they get angry across the western United States and Canada, spread the smoke so much This the sun has turned red and people’s eyes and throats were poked as far east as New York. One of the fires is so big creates its own atmosphere. The West is suffering fourth heat wave in less than two months. Coronavirus case numbers are rising again nationally, mostly among unvaccinated people, and states like Florida and Missouri are experiencing devastating and deadly swings.

But despite the raging crisis, the gears of the American government seem to be stuck as ever, partly because of the intensity of American polarization, and partly because Republican members of Congress even oppose some measures that polls show bipartisan voters support. , like stricter limits about power plant and vehicle emissions.

Like The Times climate reporter Coral Davenport, significant action on climate change can only be imagined through President Biden’s executive action and a party-level budget consensus bill. told me this monthand even such measures may not be ambitious enough to meet the country’s climate targets.

Millions of Republicans still refuse to receive coronavirus vaccines and denounce the Biden administration’s pressure on vaccines. They did so even as live accounts of health workers in the most affected states made it clear what a dire toll the Delta variant has on unvaccinated people.

The problem is that in a polarized age, “political elites have every incentive to politicize these things early on, and that’s why people who care about politics choose the framework used by elected officials and the media,” said Jaime E. Settle, associate professor of government at the College of William & Mary and Director of the Social Networks and Political Psychology Laboratory.

Even catastrophic and highly visible events like wildfires and heat waves don’t move the needle, because “people interpret these events from the framework in which they started,” Settle said. So if someone starts to disbelieve the established science of human-caused climate change, they’re probably going to look at the latest evidence of climate change and say, ‘Well, that’s not evidence’ or ‘This is evidence, but humans aren’t.’ to blame for it.’”

Joanne Freeman, professor of history and American studies at Yale who studies political polarization and political violence, said today’s environment is reminiscent of previous periods of extreme division, including the 1790s, 1850s and 1960s.

“One thing these eras share is that when things get so polarized, there is a lack of trust in just about everything – a lack of trust in information, a distrust of both sides in each other, a lack of trust in national institutions and their ability to get things done,” Freeman said. Although these are in front of our eyes, many people do not trust the information they receive. You can’t overcome this basic insecurity to get to the truth, or even the extremely urgent stuff.”

How can you attract people if you don’t trust MPs, don’t trust the press, and don’t trust people in positions of authority outside of the small space they act? together to tackle something bigger?”

My Colleague as Alex Burns wrote this monthThe seismic events that would almost certainly change American politics in the past are not just making a crash now. We may soon find out if “American voters can still make large-scale changes of opinion.”

As for the possibility of changing one’s views or the likelihood of accepting facts through personal conversations, Settle said, the challenge is that we tend to base our arguments on what will change our minds, not what will change someone else’s. And we don’t even have good forums to have these conversations.

“There is a small but growing body of research on how you can build online interactions to make them better,” he said, “but the organic options we have on social media and comment threads right now are a disaster. ”

New York Times Events

As world leaders come together for climate change negotiations, join us at The New York Times Climate Center in Glasgow for nine days of live journalism and ideas to inspire action, both face-to-face and online.

Understand the science; learn about challenges and innovations; engage in lively talks, discussions and exhibitions; and learn how you can create real change.

On Policy is also available as a newsletter. sign up here to have it delivered to your inbox.

Is there anything you think we’re missing? Is there anything you want to see more of? We’d love to hear from you. Email us onpolitics@nytimes.com.


Source link

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *