Discovering the Center’ at URI – Today in Rhody



The University of Rhode Island is set to host a symposium discussing US political polarization with panelists including former Congressmen James R. Langevin and Steve Israel, and Reince Priebus, former White House Chief of Staff. The announcement comes amid reports of increasing American frustration with political institutions, with a Pew Research study finding that 65% of Americans feel exhausted by politics and 86% believe that Republicans and Democrats prioritize party conflict over problem-solving. Despite this, a Carnegie Endowment report suggests that the political divide among voters may not be as extreme as it seems, with some overlap in opinion on key issues.

KINGSTON, R.I.— Oct. 13, 2023 — Political Stalemate in U.S. Senate and House of Representatives

U.S. government and political institutions are facing historic low approval ratings due to a congressional standstill. Military promotions, diplomatic appointments, debt ceiling disputes, and potential government shutdown threats are causing widespread exhaustion and anger. A significant majority (86%) believe that Republicans and Democrats are locked in battle, leading to political paralysis.

The Pew Research Center recently reported that 65% of Americans are consistently fatigued by politics, with 55% expressing anger. Despite the political divide, a Carnegie Endowment for International Peace report suggests that American voters might have more common ground on significant issues than it seems.

Addressing Political Polarization: Upcoming Symposium at the University of Rhode Island

Political experts will gather at the University of Rhode Island on Tuesday, Oct. 17, to discuss these challenges in the second installment of the James R. Langevin Symposium Series. “Polarization of Politics in America: Finding the Center” will feature former U.S. Congressmen James R. Langevin and Steve Israel, and Reince Priebus, former White House Chief of Staff to President Donald Trump.

Panel Experts: A Closer Look

James R. Langevin, a Democrat who served Rhode Island’s 2nd Congressional District from 2001 to 2023, is a visiting scholar at URI. Steve Israel, who represented New York’s 2nd and 3rd Districts between 2001 and 2017, is currently the director of the Cornell University Institute of Politics and Global Affairs. Meanwhile, Reince Priebus, former White House Chief of Staff and three-term chair of the Republican National Committee, is now the president and chief strategist with Michael Best & Friedrich LLP and chair of 2024 Republican National Convention in Milwaukee’s host committee.

Event Details

The symposium will take place from 5 to 6:30 p.m. in Edwards Hall at the Kingston Campus and is free and open to the public. Earlier in the day, at 2:30 p.m., a panel on Rhode Island politics will convene at the Higgins Welcome Center, accessible to URI students, with discussions moderated by URI faculty and research assistant. Notable guests include state party chairs, house minority leader, and a state representative.

Registration for the symposium is recommended. The event will also be livestreamed.

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