Given the attention that Hillary Clinton is getting from the press, it is worth noting her prescription for reducing partisan gridlock dovetails well with research on how superordinate/shared goals leads to cooperation and common ground.
When asked for her prescription for partisan gridlock, Clinton sees an opportunity not unlike what Obama saw in 2008. “People are stereotypes, they are caricaturized,” says Clinton. “It comes from both sides of the political aisle, it comes from the press. It’s all about conflict, it’s all about personality, and there are huge stakes in the policies that are being debated, and I think there’s a hunger amongst a very significant, maybe even a critical mass of Americans, clustered on the left, right, and center, to have an adult conversation about how we’re going to solve these problems … but it’s not for the fainthearted.” For now, Hillary’s strategy is to sail above these conflicts, mostly by saying nothing to inflame them. “I have a lot of reason to believe, as we saw in the 2012 election, most Americans don’t agree with the extremists on any side of an issue,” says Clinton, “but there needs to continue to be an effort to find common ground, or even take it to higher ground on behalf of the future.”
Of course, diagnosing the issue and actually solving it are two very different things as we haven't seen a reduction in partisanship during Obama's presidency, so somehow her prescription may have to change if we are to expect a different outcome from a hypothetical Clinton presidency. Chris Christie has a similar view of the importance of "getting things done" over partisanship, and also has a track record of transcending gridlock as governor of New Jersey. In coming months, we will try to highlight quotes concerning overcoming gridlock from all potential 2016 candidates, especially as they relate to psychological research on incivility.
- Ravi Iyer