Book Review

    Polarized America:
    The Dance of Ideology and Unequal Riches

    Keith T. Poole, Howard Rosenthal & Nolan McCarty

    An observation of the growing gaps in national income and widening political divisions across the country, Keith Poole’s “Polarized America” is a sociological investigation of partisan differences.

    Over the last three decades, U.S. income inequality has swelled to an unthinkable size and Poole — along with Princeton professors Nolan McCarty and Howard Rosenthal — notes it sharply in his latest bookish prose ripe with time trends, financial statistics and footnotes.

    Although they begin by explaining their unique method of collecting data (a system they pioneered: collecting roll-call votes from both the Senate and the House), they plod through public policy like your everyday analyst for the greater part of the text.

    Though the income gap has increased substantially, Poole argues, redistributive policies such as progressive taxing and welfare programs have been overwhelmed by voters unaffected by the inequity. Social issues such as immigration, he goes on to explain, have taken a dramatic toll on public opinion as well — especially when most voters agree that redistributive policies at the very least should not apply to illegal immigrants.

    In the end, Poole’s combination of economic analysis and social scrutiny puts a spotlight on prominent political disenfranchisement; shining a liberal light on the casualties of our nation’s obdurate opinions.

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