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2018 BRC Session: An Optimistic Appraisal of American Democracy

KONA, HI, May 9, 2018 – While many believe the American electorate at the center has diminished over time, the statistical truth shows we’re not much different than in the past, Blue Ribbon Conference Speaker & Hoover Institute Director Tom Gilligan told agents today.

“As partisan divides over political values widen, other gaps remain more modest,” Gilligan said. “The reality is that the more things appear to change, the more they remain the same.”

At the core of this unfounded belief is that the political extremes of both the far left and right tend to cause polarization, with many within the media focusing on those extremes, Gilligan said.  The effects of this polarization is unstable majorities that lead to the dismantling of administrative policies based on who is in power at the time, he said.

“An example of this would be the repeal of sections of the Affordable Care Act when Trump took office,” Gilligan said. “And the same might occur to the Tax Cut & Jobs Act if the Democrats regain power.”

While the attention to social media driving election results continues to grow, the reality is that platforms such as Facebook and Twitter play more to the extremists in both parties and do little to move the needle on independent voters.

“Voters who consider themselves more independent and less swayed by political ideologies make independent decisions closer to election time,” he said. “And a majority of these voters continue to get most of their news from the major networks that historically provide unbiased political news reporting.”