Author of 'The Big Sort' Explores Deepening Partisan Divide

FSU, Village Square Host Events to Explore Deepening Partisan Divide
Author of “The Big Sort: How the Clustering of Like-Minded America is Tearing Us Apart” Comes to Tallahassee

(TALLAHASSEE, FL) – February 1, 2011 – Pulitzer Prize finalist Bill Bishop didn’t set out to study partisanship in America until he stumbled on something peculiar while researching the economics of communities across America.

In 1976, less than a quarter of Americans lived in places where the presidential election was a landslide. By 2004, nearly half of all voters lived in landslide counties. Americans had been moving close to other Americans who voted just like they voted. Bishop’s research ultimately showed that in those years “unnoticed, people had been reshaping the way they lived. Americans were forming tribes, not only in their neighborhoods but also in churches and volunteer groups. That’s not the way people would describe what they were doing, but in every comer of society, people were creating new, more homogeneous relations.”

Given these demographic trends, a deepening political divide may have been inevitable, as social psychologists have studied like-minded groups and could predict that people living and worshiping in homogeneous groups would grow more extreme in their thinking over time.

Bishop will explain the phenomena of “The Big Sort” and its relevance to our current civic and political challenges at two events in Tallahassee – Monday, February 7 and Tuesday, February 8.

On February 7, Bishop will speak at Florida State University’s Globe Auditorium at the Center for Global Engagement as part of the FSU College of Social Sciences and Public Policy “Laird B. Anderson and Florence H. Ashby Lectureship on Public Policy Journalism.” The event is from 7:00 PM to 8:30 PM, with a brief reception following until 9. It is free and open to the public, with no reservations required. The event is co-sponsored by Uphold the Garnet and Gold and The Center for Leadership and Civic Education.

On February 8, Bishop will be the featured speaker at The Village Square’s Dinner at the Square from 5:30 PM to 7:30 PM with an optional extended discussion until 8:30 PM at St. John’s Episcopal Church, 211 N. Monroe St. Joining the conversation – facilitated by Steve Seibert of the Collins Center for Public Policy – is former Democratic Representative Loranne Ausley; Sally Bradshaw, senior advisor to the Republican Party of Florida and a member of Governor Rick Scott’s Transition Advisory Panel; Dr. Ann Henderson, Director of Bob Graham Center for Public Service at the University of Florida; and Rod Petrey, President of the Collins Center and recently named “Floridian of the Year” by Florida Trend.

Dinner will be catered by St. John’s Episcopal Church Lively Cafe. Tickets are $25 through Sunday, February 6, and $35 after. A limited number of scholarship tickets are available.

In conjunction with the event, The Village Square is inviting Tallahassee residents to participate in “Lunch Across the Aisle,” a project to undo “The Big Sort.” Participants become eligible for a drawing for free Dinner at the Square tickets.

For information on both events, “Lunch Across the Aisle,” speaker biographies, dinner tickets and a menu, go online to www.tothevillagesquare.org or call 850-590-6646.