Civic Virus: Why Polarization Is a Misdiagnosis


A new report from the Kettering Foundation and the Harwood Institute.


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This report from the Kettering Foundation and the Harwood Institute, by Richard C. Harwood, comes at a time when the conventional wisdom is that Americans are polarized. But, Harwood says, conventional wisdom misdiagnoses what’s really ailing us. To find out more about what is happening, the Harwood Institute held 16 in-depth focus groups in different US communities. All the conversations focused on the same questions: how people describe the nation today; who the individuals, groups, institutions, or leaders are that people believe and trust; where people get their information and news about what’s happening around them and in the larger world; what community actions people saw in response to COVID-19, and what, if any, lessons might these hold for the country moving forward; and what it means to be an American. The report delves into the findings from these conversations and offers some thoughts on how to combat the civic virus and inoculate the nation moving forward.

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