26 Feb Depolarization Research and Interventions
Our nation is polarized: distrust in government is high and the zone of potential agreement between Americans is at an all-time low. We, as a country, are tribally divided into categories of “us versus them.” These in/out group categorizations are based on intersecting factors that include geography, demography, class, race, and education level, as well as how we get our news and information.
Polarization is not a new phenomenon in America, nor is it inherently problematic. In a diverse multiracial, multi-ethnic democracy, there will always be some levels of disagreement. Nonetheless, on January 6th, as we watched the insurrection at the Capitol, we witnessed, in real time, the vulnerability of our democracy. This event, among others, including an election season riddled with mis/disinformation and an attempted kidnapping of a sitting Governor, exposed an urgent need to address the rising levels of negative and affective polarization.
This memorandum provides an overview of potential interventions and approaches to depolarizing the U.S. electorate. The information contained in this document is intended to advise interested parties as they explore funding opportunities by digging into potential interventions to the root causes of polarization. To understand and devise interventions to polarization, our research consisted of: 1) Historical and international case studies that highlighted ways various countries worked to address
affective polarization; 2) A high level scan of the current field of depolarization including how current organizations, philanthropy, 501 (c) (4) groups and others in this space are working to define, address, and solve the issue of polarization; and 3) Interviews with experts working to depolarize the electorate within the fields of politics, media, and the economy.