Just a month before the U.S. Presidential Election of 2020 on November 3, 2020, over 150 AAFSW members and guests attended virtually via Zoom the very timely presentation on “Understanding American Politics in an Era of Polarization”, presented by Prof. Alexander George Theodoridis, on Wednesday, October 7, 2020.
Prof. Theodoridis presented the research data that explain the various ways in which citizens interact with the political world inan era of hyper-polarization. Prof. Theodoridis substantive research and teaching interests are in American electoral politics, with a focus on political behavior/psychology, campaign effects and policy attitudes. As he explained, Prof. Theodoridis’ work applies new survey experimental and measurement paradigms to examine the implications of partisan identity and party cues for political cognition. In addition, Prof. Theodoridis presented statistical studies on public opinion as it relates to a variety of policy domains.
Prof. Theodoridis suggested that nowadays people identify with the political party that represents their own ideas much more than with the groups that represent their race, religion, socio-economic status, educational status, etc. Especially, in the USA where there are only two main political parties, there is an obvious tendency to separate people into “us” against “them.” Prof. Theodoridis’ statistical research shows that both political parties tend to dehumanize the followers of the other party and consider them less evolved, not as smart, less educated, etc.
Given the consistency by which Washington D.C. and thirty-eight states vote since 2000 and the results of popularity votes in the recent elections versus the results of the electoral college system, Prof. Theodoridis discussed the advantages and disadvantages of the existence of the electoral college system including the necessity of fair representation of all the states of the republic as well as the popularity vote expressed at the ballot boxes. Prof. Theodoridis also discussed the different political “climate” that European countries experience, as there are more than just two political parties representing the will of the people in the European elections (other than Great Britain where polarization was also prevalent during the Brexit / non-Brexit issue).
AAFSW would like to thank Prof. Theodoridis for this brilliant “à propos” and con-current presentation which endeavored in explaining the political “climate” we all currently experience just before the November 2020 Presidential Election.
Joanna Athanasopoulos Owen, PhD
AAFSW President Emerita
AAFSW Public Relations and Publicity Chair
AAFSW Fun For Funds Fundraising Events Chair