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Legislators Never Bowl Alone: Big Money, Mass Media, and the Polarization of Congress

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This is a small paper on a big subject: the polarization of American politics since the mid-1970s. In its early stages this process bore more than a passing resemblance to the opening scenes of a Grade B disaster movie: With almost everyone’s attention focused elsewhere, a series of tiny, seemingly insignificant departures from long standing routines took place.

Just about all of these stayed well beneath the radar. Then, in the mid-1980s, came the shock of recognition: Everyone suddenly woke up and realized that the American political system had altered dramatically.