What Pildes Missed: The Framers, the True Impact of the Voting Rights Act, and the Far Right

13 Jun 2011 07:12pm David M. Kennedy 

I commend Professor Richard Pildes for offering such a creative and cogent discussion of polarization in contemporary American political life. I especially appreciate that he has brought such a calm, dispassionate, and admirably scholarly tone to a discussion that is too often—well, polarized. Yet I do wonder if in the effort to find a stable ground on which to conduct a constructive, nonpartisan discussion, he has avoided, or at least underemphasized, some dimensions of the subject that are notoriously stubborn as well as others that are famously volatile, perhaps even irremediable. Specifically, Professor Pildes appears to have underemphasized the degree to which the Framers confronted this polarization, overemphasized the effect of the Voting Rights Act on polarization, and overlooked a handful of factors that might prove significant in explaining polarization.

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