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April 21, 2014

Andrew Silow-Carroll: Passoverkill? Suggestions to make next year's seders even more culturally sensitive

Sara Israelsen Hartley: Seeking the Divine: An ancient connection in a new context

Christine M. Flowers: Priest's execution in Syria should be call to action

Courtnie Erickson: How to help kids accept the poor decisions of others

Lizette Borreli: A Glass Of Milk A Day Keeps Knee Arthritis At Bay

Lizette Borreli: 5 Health Conditions Your Breath Knows Before You Do

The Kosher Gourmet by Betty Rosbottom Coconut Walnut Bars' golden brown morsels are a beautifully balanced delectable delight

April 18, 2014

Rabbi Yonason Goldson: Clarifying one of the greatest philosophical conundrums in theology

Caroline B. Glick: The disappearance of US will

Megan Wallgren: 10 things I've learned from my teenagers

Lizette Borreli: Green Tea Boosts Brain Power, May Help Treat Dementia

John Ericson: Trying hard to be 'positive' but never succeeding? Blame Your Brain

The Kosher Gourmet by Julie Rothman Almondy, flourless torta del re (Italian king's cake), has royal roots, is simple to make, . . . but devour it because it's simply delicious

April 14, 2014

Rabbi Dr Naftali Brawer: Passover frees us from the tyranny of time

Greg Crosby: Passing Over Religion

Eric Schulzke: First degree: How America really recovered from a murder epidemic

Georgia Lee: When love is not enough: Teaching your kids about the realities of adult relationships

Cameron Huddleston: Freebies for Your Lawn and Garden

Gordon Pape: How you can tell if your financial adviser is setting you up for potential ruin

Dana Dovey: Up to 500,000 people die each year from hepatitis C-related liver disease. New Treatment Has Over 90% Success Rate

Justin Caba: Eating Watermelon Can Help Control High Blood Pressure

The Kosher Gourmet by Joshua E. London and Lou Marmon Don't dare pass over these Pesach picks for Manischewitz!

April 11, 2014

Rabbi Hillel Goldberg: Silence is much more than golden

Caroline B. Glick: Forgetting freedom at Passover

Susan Swann: How to value a child for who he is, not just what he does

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Financial Tasks You Should Tackle Right Now

Sandra Block and Lisa Gerstner: How to Profit From Your Passion

Susan Scutti: A Simple Blood Test Might Soon Diagnose Cancer

Chris Weller: Have A Slow Metabolism? Let Science Speed It Up For You

The Kosher Gourmet by Diane Rossen Worthington Whitefish Terrine: A French take on gefilte fish

April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review June 26, 2014 / 28 Sivan, 5774

Poles apart, but there is power in the center

By Michael Smerconish



http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | (MCT) A recently released survey from the Pew Research Center received extensive coverage from prominent media outlets, which were nearly uniform in casting the information in an ominous light:

New York Times: "Polarization is dividing American society, not just politics."

Washington Post: "In polarized United States, we live as we vote."

Politico: "Polarization highest in recent history."

Alan Murray, president of Pew Research Center, wrote an analysis of the data for the Wall Street Journal, under the headline "The Divided States of America."

Bruce Stokes, the director of global economic attitudes at Pew, offered his own take at CNN.com (headlined "Is America dangerously divided?"), which began:

"If you thought that political polarization in America was bad, think again. Because it's worse than you thought. And if you're under the impression that dysfunctionality in Washington is merely a product of partisan political gamesmanship on Capitol Hill, try again. Because a new survey finds that the divisions inside the Beltway actually reflect a deep ideological divide within the U.S. public that manifests itself not only in politics, but in everyday life. Indeed, this polarization is growing — and it has profound implications for economic and security issues that affect the rest of the world."

Like the headlines, that summary presages a pretty harrowing picture of the state of our national discourse based upon what's billed as the largest study of U.S. political attitudes ever undertaken by Pew (10,013 adults sampled nationwide).

But I don't buy it.


Where others see confirmation that the divide among Americans is akin to that which separates those we elect, I'm digesting data that offer hope in our need to get beyond gridlock.

The undeniable bad news is that the number of partisans is on the rise. Those among us with consistently conservative and consistently liberal views have doubled in the last two decades from 10 percent to 21 percent — one in five Americans. But here's the better news: 80 percent of the country is not in this grouping of ideological uniformity and partisan animosity — a takeaway you'd never have known unless you perused the actual survey.

While "ideological silos" are now common on the left and right, Pew's survey noted: "These sentiments are not shared by all — or even most — Americans. The majority do not have uniformly conservative or liberal views. Most do not see either party as a threat to the nation. And more believe their representatives in government should meet halfway to resolve contentious disputes rather than hold out for more of what they want."

In other words, most Americans are centrists, disbelieving of the partisan hype that they are fed by each party about the other, and would like to see compromise!

That potent political power can be harnessed by nonpartisans was suggested in January, when a Gallup analysis found that 42 percent of Americans regard themselves not as Republican or Democrats, but as independents, the highest ever recorded tabulation in Gallup history. A similar finding came in November, when Esquire magazine published a detailed analysis of the country's middle, based upon polling data provided by a joint venture of the Obama and Romney pollsters from the 2012 election.

The Benenson Strategy Group (Obama campaign) and Neil Newhouse of Public Opinion Strategies (Romney) surveyed 2,410 registered American voters. They found the American center to represent approximately 51 percent of the electorate, a sum greater than the left and right combined.

Of course, the composite of the Pew, Gallup, and Esquire data raises the question of why the composition of Congress, much less the modern discourse, doesn't reflect the majority of voices? The answer is lack of engagement. Or, as the Pew survey explained:

"(M)any of those in the center remain on the edges of the political playing field, relatively distant and disengaged, while the most ideologically oriented and politically rancorous Americans make their voices heard through greater participation in every stage of the political process. The rise of ideological uniformity has been much more pronounced among those who are the most politically active."

Thomas Mann, a senior fellow in governance studies at the Brookings Institution, has been studying partisanship for decades. He co-authored "It's Even Worse Than It Looks: How the American Constitutional System Collided With the New Politics of Extremism," with Norman Ornstein. Mann simplified the dynamics: Roughly 40 percent of the nation doesn't vote, is not caught up in the ideological battles, and pays little attention to politics. And while consistent voters are only 20 percent of the electorate, they are a significant number of the 60 percent that does vote.

"Those actively engaged voters now reflect and reinforce the depolarization in Congress among elected officials," Mann said.

He's right. Change will come only when the passion of nonpartisans drives their participation. (With the current congressional approval rate at 16 percent, according to Gallup, you'd hope we would be getting close.) Until then, it's apt to say that political power rests in the center, with rests being the operative word.

Every weekday JewishWorldReview.com publishes what many in the media and Washington consider "must-reading". Sign up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.

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Michael Smerconish writes for The Philadelphia Inquirer.

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