April 4, 2013, 1:45 pm
President Obama last month took a group of Republican senators to dinner at the Jefferson Hotel, in Washington, to discuss the sequestration crisis and a wide range of other policy matters. The next day he asked Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, the former vice-presidential candidate, to lunch at the White House. Another meal with Senate Republicans is planned for April 10. The goal of those meetings? To score PR points—but also to build personal relationships that might erode partisan gridlock.
It’s too early to tell whether the president’s outreach will work, but social-science research suggests that friendships that reach across the political aisle may be good for democracy: They facilitate cooperation by reducing extremism and enhancing trust. In a 2002 study, the political scientist Diana Mutz assessed the effects of political diversity among friends. Study participants who…
March 5, 2013, 1:54 pm
With the sequestration crisis at hand, and cuts in defense, education, social programs, and other essential government services in the works, the chatter in some corners of the blogosphere last week turned to … the politics of professors.
Jane Mayer, a writer for The New Yorker, reported that in 2010, Ted Cruz, who had not yet announced his U.S. Senate bid, gave a speech in which he stated that President Obama was a “radical.” Obama was so radical, according to Cruz, that he could just as well have been “president of Harvard Law School,” where, as Cruz told it, “there were fewer declared Republicans in the faculty than Communists.” He elaborated, claiming that when he had been a student there, in the early 1990s, “there were twelve [faculty members] who would say they were Marxists who believed in the Communists overthrowing the United States government.”
October 31, 2012, 9:44 am
This month the Institute of Politics at Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School of Government released a poll of young American adults. The survey, conducted in late September and early October, held some bad news for Mitt Romney. Among those Americans ages 18 to 29 who said they would “definitely” be voting in next month’s election, 55 percent said they planned to cast their ballots for President Barack Obama. Only 36 percent supported Romney, with the rest undecided. This is not surprising—young voters are often more liberal—but it speaks to the continuing challenges faced by the GOP as it works to expand its base of support.
More surprising, perhaps, is that young Americans seem fairly tuned out during this election cycle. Although the stakes are high, not least for the young—unemployment, women’s reproductive rights, educational policy—only 58 percent of those polled by…