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Want to free up Washington gridlock? Elect more women

"Male partisans are more likely to reject information, to reject opinions that come from the other party without engaging that information," said Patrick Miller.
By Brooks Hays   |   Jan. 29, 2015 at 4:39 PM
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LAWRENCE, Kan., Jan. 29 (UPI) -- The stalemate that is Washington politics -- where both across-the-aisle bickering and party in-fighting dominates, and legislative action stagnates -- is primarily a male problem. That's according to new research from political scientists at the University of North Carolina and the University of Kansas.

The new research is based on data from a nationwide survey collected in 2010 as part of what was called the Cooperative Congressional Election Study. Male survey respondents were more likely to say they would avoid cross-party political discussion.

Male respondents were also more likely than women to admit they judge political arguments based solely on how their designated party aligns the issue. As well, males were more comfortable admitting to forming strong political opinions without considering the reasoning of the opposition's position.

"Male Democrats and Republicans more than female partisans expect interacting with the other party to be an unpleasant, conflictual, anxious, anger-filled experience," Patrick Miller, an assistant professor of political science at Kansas, said in a recent press release. "So as a result, they talk about politics with people in the other party less so than women."

It makes sense that males would be more apprehensive about bridging political gaps, given the admitted disposition of their male counterparts.

"Male partisans are more likely to reject information, to reject opinions that come from the other party without engaging that information," Miller added.

Thus, compromise might be best left to the women of the House and Senate.

But the men of Capitol Hill aren't entirely to blame for the nation's political dysfunction, Miller says. Voters are equally liable.

"We very readily condemn all the problems we find in Washington. Yet, we as citizens don't think very often about the role that we have in that."

Americans have, in recent years, increasingly elected more partisan politicians -- especially to the House of Representatives.

"If we're condemning politicians for the way they act in office, they might just be giving us what we are citizens are looking for," Miller said, "that partisan warrior and gridlock."

The new study was published this week in the journal Politics, Groups, and Identities.

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