Why Is American Politics So Polarized?

The Annual Herbert W. Vaughan Lecture on America’s Founding Principles

October 18, 2010
Wilson event flyer

James Q. WilsonRonald Reagan Professor of Public Policy, Pepperdine University; Visiting Lecturer, Boston College and Senior Fellow in the Clough Center for the Study of Constitutional Democracy at Boston College; Former President of the American Political Science Association; and Recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom

Endowed by the late Herbert "Wiley" Vaughan, founding member of the Madison Program's Advisory Council, the Herbert W. Vaughan Lecture on America’s Founding Principles is an endowed Princeton University lecture that is hosted by the James Madison Program in American Ideals and Institutions in the Department of Politics.  Its purpose is to promote and advance understanding of the founding principles and core doctrines of American constitutionalism. 

James Q. Wilson is Ronald Reagan Professor of Public Policy, Pepperdine University; Visiting Lecturer, Boston College and Senior Fellow in the Clough Center for the Study of Constitutional Democracy at Boston College. From 1985 until 1997 he was the James Collins Professor of Management and Public Policy at UCLA. From 1961 to 1987 he was the Shattuck Professor of Government at Harvard University. He has served on a number of national commissions concerned with public policy. He was chairman of the White House Task Force on Crime in 1966, chairman of the National Advisory Commission on Drug Abuse Prevention in 1972-1973, a member of the Attorney General's Task Force on Violent Crime in 1981, a member of the President's Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board from 1985 to 1991 a member of the board of directors of the Police Foundation from 1971 to 1993, and a member of the President’s Council on Bioethics. He is currently chairman of the Board of Academic Advisers of the American Enterprise Institute and has been a member of the board of directors of State Farm Mutual Insurance Company and a trustee of the RAND Corporation. He is the author or coauthor of fifteen books, the most recent of which is The Marriage Problem (HarperCollins, 2002). Others include Moral Judgment (Basic Books), The Moral Sense (Free Press), American Government (Houghton Mifflin), Bureaucracy (Basic Books), Thinking About Crime (Free Press), Varieties of Police Behavior (Harvard University Press), Political Organizations (Princeton University Press), and Crime and Human Nature (with Richard J. Herrnstein, Simon & Schuster). In 2008 he and co-editor Peter Schuck published Understanding America: The Anatomy of an Exceptional Nation. Many of his writings on morality and human character have been collected in On Character: Essays by James Q. Wilson. In 1990 the American Political Science Association presented him with the James Madison Award for a career of distinguished scholarship and in 1991-1992 he served as the association's president. In 1994 he received the John Gaus Award for "exemplary scholarship in the fields of political science and public administration." In 2003 President George W. Bush presented him with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian award. He has been elected a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and of the American Philosophical Society. From 1952-1955, he served in the United States Navy. He earned an AB from the University of Redlands and a Ph.D. from the University of Chicago. He has received honorary degrees from seven universities, including Harvard.

Video:

Why Is American Politics So Polarized?

Location:

Lewis Library 120

Photo Album:

  • Polarization discussion
  • Polarization discussion
  • Polarization discussion