RealClear Public Affairs: Lynn Uzzell on Madison’s Lessons for Overcoming Polarization

James Madison

RealClearPublicAffairs’s 1776 Series: “Madison’s Five Lessons for Overcoming Polarization”

By Lynn Uzzell


“There has never been a time when our nation wasn’t divided by partisanship. Yet some eras are more divisive than others, and few of us would deny that we’re living through an especially polarized time. For those who don’t trust their instincts on this question, numerous surveys bear out a collective hunch: polarization really has gotten worse in recent decades.

We don’t lack for probing examinations of the causes. Ezra Klein blames modern social and news media. Charles Murray notes that ordinary class divisions have become intensified through American “super zips.” Some studies blame the nationalization of local politics, while others suggest that even our leisure activities are exacerbating political divides. Predictably, each side blames the other for increased radicalization within their respective political parties.

While many of these studies provide genuine insights into our current condition and how we got here, too few have grappled seriously with the most pressing question: How do we get beyond the hyper-partisanship? Lessons drawn from our preeminent constitutional founder James Madison might prove helpful…”

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Lynn UzzellLynn Uzzell teaches American politics and rhetoric at the University of Virginia and Washington and Lee University and is the founding director of the Summer Civics Institute at UVA. She is currently working on two book manuscripts relating to the records of the Constitutional Convention. She received her B.A. in speech communications at Black Hills State University and her M.A. and Ph.D. in politics at the University of Dallas. She has taught extensively on political philosophy, rhetoric, the United States Constitution, and American political thought at Baylor University, the University of Virginia, the University of Richmond, and Washington and Lee University. She specializes in the Constitutional Convention of 1787. For four years she was also the scholar in residence at the Center for the Constitution at James Madison’s Montpelier.

Professor Uzzell is a JMC faculty partner.

Learn more about Lynn Uzzell >>



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