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The Polarization Problem

Do we need to get more polarized?

Illustration by Peter Ryan

Political polarization is something liberals have grown fond of naming as an obvious societal ill. And it is bad—but does it need to get worse before it can get better? On Episode 6 of The Politics of Everything, hosts Laura Marsh and Alex Pareene talk to Osita Nwanevu, a staff writer at The New Republic, about the history of polarization, its role in politics today, and what gets lost when you to try to find the sources of political division in evolutionary psychology, as Ezra Klein does in his recent book, Why We’re Polarized.

Later in the show, campaign reporter Walter Shapiro describes how newspapers buried or outright ignored the 1918 Spanish flu, and how, in an unnerving parallel to this moment, the shoddy media coverage encouraged state and local governments to do as little as possible about that long ago pandemic.