Stanford Researcher Explores Sources Of America’s Political Divide In New Book


Publish Date:
April 3, 2017
  • Shashkevich, Alex
Stanford News
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The United States is currently experiencing a deep political and social divide, according to many experts. But what has led to this polarization?

Mugambi Jouet, a Thomas C. Grey Fellow and lecturer at Stanford Law School, tackles this question in his new book, Exceptional America: What Divides Americans from the World and from Each Other.

Jouet examines the ideological evolution of American conservatism and how American exceptionalism is among the root causes of current political polarization in the country. Jouet also explores what sets the U.S. apart from other Western countries.

Stanford News Service interviewed Jouet about his research.

How and why did you start working on the research behind this book?

I grew up in Paris in a multicultural environment, as my mother is French and father Kenyan. At 17, I moved to the United States for college and ultimately lived in many regions, including the East Coast, South, Midwest and West Coast. I was always fascinated not only by how America compares to other nations but also by the great contrasts within the U.S.

I started this research during the Barack Obama presidency to examine the sources of the nation’s polarization and why Americans often intensely debate issues that generally are not controversial, or less so elsewhere, in the modern Western world, such as universal health care, gun control, the existence of climate change, abortion and contraception. Additionally, I wanted to examine the roots of Donald Trump’s political rise, which I trace to a long-term ideological evolution.

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