What happened to bipartisanship? As the U.S. heads into the 2020 election cycle, its defining political characteristic is a deep and growing ideological divide. Party affiliation is now a source of greater division between Americans than race, gender, religion, or level of education. Yet, at the same time, both major parties are less popular than any time in recent history.

This weekend seminar will examine the sources of hyperpartisanship as well as the consequences of party polarization for American political life. Students will consider such questions as: Is there an ideal level of party difference? How does partisanship become tribalism or hyperpartisanship, and can this be prevented? Is it possible to regulate partisan activity? And is a return to bipartisanship possible?

Image courtesy of Kirstie_J at pixabay.com

Daniel DiSalvo on party reform in America


Daniel DiSalvo

Daniel DiSalvo is a Senior Fellow at the Manhattan Institute’s Center for State and Local Leadership and an Assistant Professor of Political Science at The City College of New York-CUNY.  His scholarship focuses on American political parties, elections, labor unions, state government, and public policy.

Preview the Syllabus by Week/Session

Michael Barone

Michael Barone is a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute and senior political analyst at the Washington Examiner. He studies politics, American government, and campaigns and elections. The principal coauthor of the annual Almanac of American Politics (National Journal Group), he has written many books on American politics and history. His most recent book, How America’s Political Parties Change (And How They Don’t), was published in 2019.





  1. Has each of America’s parties maintained its constant character?
  2. Why are America’s parties so resilient?
  3. What will be the future of American party competition?




  1. What are the causes of party polarization?
  2. Has polarization resulted in policies favoring one party or the other?
  3. What is the character of party discipline in Congress?
  4. Is party polarization all bad? Can a polarized party system be healthy?




  1. What is party identification and why is it important?
  2. What is polarization about?
  3. What is “tribalism” or “teamsmanship? How is it related to polarization?
  4. Is polarization driven by ideology or by “teamsmanship”?

Yuval Levin

Yuval Levin is a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute and editor of National Affairs. He is also a senior editor of The New Atlantis, and a contributing editor of National Review and previously The Weekly Standard. Prior to joining AEI, he served as Vice President and Hertog Fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center. He has been a member of the White House domestic policy staff (under President George W. Bush), Executive Director of the President’s Council on Bioethics, and a congressional staffer. He is the author of The Fractured Republic (2016) and most recently, A Time To Build (2020).

Emily Ekins

Emily Ekins is a research fellow and director of polling at the Cato Institute. Her research focuses on public opinion, American politics, political psychology, and social movements. Before joining Cato, she spent four years as the director of polling for Reason Foundation where she conducted national public opinion polls and published specialized research studies. In 2014 Emily authored an in-depth study of young Americans, “Millennials: The Politically Unclaimed Generation.” She has discussed her research on C-SPAN, CNBC, NPR, Fox News, and Fox Business, and her research has appeared in The New York TimesThe Washington PostPolitico, The Wall Street Journal, and The Los Angeles Times.

Other Courses You Might Be Interested In

Understanding Populism

Understand the resurgence of populism in America.

Varieties of American Conservatism

Discover the intellectual roots of modern conservatism.

Left & Right in America

Study the two great rival partisan interpretations of liberal democracy in America.

Administration & Crisis

Examine case studies in American history to better understand presidential crisis management.

American Political Thought

Engage key texts that have helped shape the political idea – and political ideals – of America.