Kos and I are definitely of the same mind on this. And there is perhaps no political commentary bromide more impervious to evidence to the contrary. Newsweek’s Evan Thomas argues that our increasingly partisan and divided politics are creating two Americas — one very engaged minority of hyped-up political junkies and a great majority of citizens who are turned off and tuning out politics.
I have some articles from the late 1990s or early 2000s I wish I could refer back to (not sure where the links are), but Kos nicely sets forth some of the key and incontrovertible evidence that this is not only wrong but precisely the opposite of the case. It’s revealing that the source Thomas cites is Thomas Patterson, a conventional wisdom bathed press critic at the Kennedy School, rather than a more granular summary of voting statistics.
You can certainly make a qualitative argument that increased partisan adherence is damaging our politics — not one I’d agree with, at least not mainly. But the quantitative argument — that increased partisanship is driving people away from politics and voting — simply can’t be made. Nor should it be that surprising. The more people are engaged in the issues of the day, the more likely they are to vote.