Politicians, journalists, and other political observers regularly stress that our elected officials need to act in a bipartisan manner to address the problems that our nation faces. Yet the precise meaning of bipartisanship is usually left unclear, as are its presumably positive effects. Furthermore, bipartisanship is far from the only aspect of American politics where claims are made but not evaluated – similar claims are made about out-of-control bureaucracies, the inability of governments to adopt successful policies, and so on. In this talk I examine what we do and do not know about these significant features of American politics – and whether what we think we know is actually true.
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