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Thu 26

October 26, 2023

Polarization and Political Violence: Rachel Kleinfeld

Common Ground Committee

Location: Online


Violent threats against members of Congress are up, and hate crimes have increased to the highest levels ever recorded. Fear is being used as a tool by both Republicans and Democrats to win votes.

In this episode, we speak with Rachel Kleinfeld, a fellow in the Democracy, Conflict and Governance Program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

Rachel says people talking across differences isn’t enough to end polarization, even if it can create goodwill and lower the temperature in the short term: there needs to be institutional change, and politicians who come together to defend democratic norms.

A recent guest in the UK told us it sometimes seems like the US is on the verge of civil war. Rachel says this is unlikely. As someone who grew up in Alaska among neighbors firing the occasional warning shot from their yards, she knows firsthand that ‘threats and justification for violence are not the same as attacks.’

Hear more on the latest episode of Let’s Find Common Ground.