By Jeb Bladine • President / Publisher • 

Whatchamacolumn: Political courage to fight polarization

It seems that partisan politics will dominate national public discourse for the foreseeable future. As evidenced this week, eight Republican presidential candidates were asked if they would support Donald Trump if he wins the GOP nomination but is convicted of crimes; six of them raised their hands.

Still, Americans may be tiring of the political rancor, as suggested by July reports of cable news viewership.

Fox News still leads, with 40 percent more prime time viewers than second-place MSNBC and almost three times that of CNN. More interesting, however, Fox News and CNN have lost 26 and 27 percent of their viewers, respectively, since July 2022. Even more dramatic, since 2020, Fox News prime time viewership is down 51 percent and CNN numbers have dropped by 64 percent. MSNBC fared only slightly better with a 46 percent drop in prime time viewers since 2020.

A possible cultural shift? Consider a March Time Magazine article by Peter T. Coleman and Pearce Godwin, who wrote:

“This pernicious, runaway form of polarization has Red and Blue Americans physically moving away from members of the other party and into their political tribes, a condition found elsewhere to be a primary driver of political violence and civil war. But most of us (upwards of 67%) are actually tired of division. We want peace in our families, calm in our communities, and unity in America. If you’re one of them, you are part of a vast majority of your fellow Americans. The good news is that there is hope, and you have a powerful role to play.”

The writers issued “an invitation to look deeply but kindly within yourself and work with others to fight the toxic division that’s tearing our country apart.” They urged participation in the “Political Courage Challenge,” a series of exercises based on four building blocks: “Address your own divisive habits; reintroduce honesty and tolerance in your political ingroup; focus on tensions in your more politically-estranged relationships; mobilize in cross-partisan groups to tackle shared concerns.”

If you are among the millions of people who stopped or greatly reduced watching Fox News, CNN and MSNBC in the past three years, you may be ready for brief daily affirmations of the Political Courage Challenge. It starts with a “Toxicity Inventory … to consider specific places in our lives that are currently being affected by toxic polarization.” Next comes the “Implicit Change Theory Inventory … to consider feasibility for partisan change.”

More details can be found at; here’s hoping a few presidential candidates join in.

Jeb Bladine can be reached at or 503-687-1223.



Jeb great article! You hit the nail on the Head! Larry


Disagreeing with someone on policy matters is the most American thing to do as a citizen. Robust debate on policy is a good thing. What's not American, is the failure to accept that all of our citizens have the right to exist. That's not policy...and it's not debatable...and it can't be smoothed over with "bothsidesisms".

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