Respect and Loathing in American Democracy: Polarization, Moralization, and the Undermining of Equality (Chicago Studies in American Politics) (Paperback)

Respect and Loathing in American Democracy: Polarization, Moralization, and the Undermining of Equality (Chicago Studies in American Politics) By Jeff Spinner-Halev, Elizabeth Theiss-Morse Cover Image

Respect and Loathing in American Democracy: Polarization, Moralization, and the Undermining of Equality (Chicago Studies in American Politics) (Paperback)

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A deep examination of why respect is in short supply in politics today and why it matters.

Respect is in trouble in the United States. Many Americans believe respecting others is a necessary virtue, yet many struggle to respect opposing partisans. Surprisingly, it is liberal citizens, who hold respect as central to their view of democratic equality, who often have difficulty granting respect to others. Drawing on evidence from national surveys, focus groups, survey experiments, and the views of political theorists, Jeff Spinner-Halev and Elizabeth Theiss-Morse explain why this is and why respect is vital to—and yet so lacking in—contemporary US politics.

Respect and Loathing in American Democracy argues that liberals and conservatives are less divided than many believe, but alienate one another because they moralize different issues. Liberals moralize social justice, conservatives champion national solidarity, and this worldview divide keeps them at odds.

Respect is both far-reaching and vital, yet it is much harder to grant than many recognize, partly because of the unseen tension between respect, social justice, and national solidarity. Respect and Loathing in American Democracy proposes a path forward that, while challenging, is far from impossible for citizens to traverse.

Jeff Spinner-Halev is the Kenan Eminent Professor of Political Ethics at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Elizabeth Theiss-Morse is the Willa Cather Professor of Political Science at the University of Nebraska, Lincoln.

Product Details ISBN: 9780226831732
ISBN-10: 0226831736
Publisher: University of Chicago Press
Publication Date: March 29th, 2024
Pages: 288
Language: English
Series: Chicago Studies in American Politics
Respect and Loathing in American Democracy breaks much new ground. It brings normative insight to bear on fresh data to illuminate a problem at the core of democracy in our time: why people have such a hard time respecting those on the other side of our polarized partisan divide. An important book.”
— Stephen Macedo | Princeton University

“Spinner-Halev and Theiss-Morse take their own road to assessing what ails American politics. Whereas there are numerous books and articles on racism/identity, nationalism, and white working-class politics, Respect and Loathing in American Democracy tells a novel story that is thoughtful, rich in evidence, and engaging."
— Matthew Wright | University of British Columbia