Introducing The Purple Principle Report

From the Editors | Issue 1 | March 4, 2021

A narrowly divided U.S. Senate and House where factions left, right or center could make or break important legislative efforts… 

All kinds of “redistricting” getting underway in state legislatures based on the 2020 Census  that could easily flip the US House from blue to red without a single change in citizen votes come 2022…

And just as there might be light at the end of the pandemic tunnel, with improved vaccine supply and distribution, some states appear to be quickly loosening public health measures, possibly creating a window of mutation opportunity for COVID variants to respread.

For those concerned about hyperpartisanship and polarization, there seems evidence for renewed optimism and continued pessimism as we launch our first edition of this newsletter. The departure of our most divisive President since Andrew Johnson should create new opportunities for dialogue and compromise, as well as general reduction in the national blood pressure. But any neuroscientist worth their electrodes will tell you that polarization runs deep. . Any social scientist will also tell you it also runs wide. And any historian would add that it tends to run long, too. Alas, then, don’t expect miracles and be grateful for even minor improvements. 

Moving into Season Two of the Purple Principle we’ll continue to take a 360 degree tour around the subject of partisanship. This newsletter, The Purple Principle Report, will be a central part of that effort. We’ll be looking around the country for cases where political compromises are forged and also fizzle. We’ll keep an eye on the gerrymandering(s) of state legislatures that may deepen our divide. And we’ll be looking at the groups and individuals working hard to combat polarization through a variety of means, from research and publication to lawsuits and ballot initiatives as well as documentaries, online media and just about all things purple, except eggplant. We hope you’ll subscribe and spread the word. 

In print, as in audio, the Purple Principle will continue to be an exploration of the perils of partisanship for independent-minded listeners and readers.  

Highlights & Insights from The Purple principle

From our upcoming Season Two episode, featuring Julian Zelizer of Princeton University and author of Burning Down the HouseNewt Gingrich, the Fall of a Speaker, and the Rise of the New Republican Party

purple principle episode artwork with headshot of dr. julian zelizer

“Well, the thing I was really interested in is, when does Gingrich’s style of partisanship enter into what the party leaders were doing? I think that’s important. When do you have someone like a Joe McCarthy, an outlier or a bomb thrower or a maverick, all of a sudden become part of the leadership? And that happens during his takedown of Speaker Jim Wright. During that takedown, he employs his no guardrail type of partisanship very successfully and is able to pressure the Speaker of the House into resigning, which had never happened in American history. And second, during this whole process where he’s going after the Speaker for ethics problems, not only does he show all the tools that he’s going to use for the rest of his career, but House Republicans elect him to a leadership position, House Minority Whip. And that was a big decision, because the Republicans who until then had kept arms length and said, what he’s doing was too dangerous for Washington and would erode our ability to govern, then they decided to bring him in as a leader.”

— Julian Zelizer

What We’re Reading

How the battle over redistricting in 2021 could decide control of the U.S. Congress


Repubilcans could use redistricting alone to flip the half-dozen House seats needed to regain control of the chamber from the Democrats in the 2022 congressional election.

Partisan-driven voter suppression getting worse with rise of independent voters

Independent Voter News

A recent report by the Open Primaries Education Fund finds that unaffiliated registered voters outnumber registered members of at least one of the major parties in 15 of the 30 states that register votes by party.

People with extremist views less able to do complex mental tasks, research suggests

The Guardian

Participants who are prone to dogmatism – stuck in their ways and relatively resistant to credible evidence – actually have a problem with processing evidence even at a perceptual level, according to a recent study at the University of Cambridge.

‘It answers a call’: Depolarization workshop encourages Ohioans on both sides of political divide to practice empathy

The Columbus Dispatch

Republicans and Democrats from all corners of Ohio joined a “depolarization” workshop run by Braver Angels, a non-profit founded in the wake of the 2016 election to help reunite America.

Kentucky lawmakers make bipartisan push for vote expansions

The Fulcrum

Republicans in Kentucky passed with near unanimous support a bill to allow for early voting, a sharp contrast with other Republican-led efforts to limit access to early and mail-in voting.

Study Worth Studying

The Psychology and Neuroscience of Partisanship

A recent study co-authored by NYU Neural Scientist, Jay Van Bavel, our featured guest on Episode 9, “Your Brain on Partisanship.”

Poll Worth Pondering

Support for Third U.S. Political Party at High Point

Americans’ desire for a third party has increased since last year and now sits at a high in Gallup’s trend. 62% of U.S. adults say “the parties do such a poor job representing the American people that a third party is needed,” an increase from 57%.

Partner In Purple

This issue’s Partner in Purple is Civic Genius. This group holds Citizen Panels in which Republicans, Democrats, and Independents come together to discuss and vote upon the vital issues of the day with their current U.S. House member in (virtual) attendance. Civic Genius partners with the polling group Voice of the People to select and prepare a representative and remarkably-civil cross section from these districts. Civic Genius will be featured in an upcoming Season Two episode of The Purple Principle.

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