In the 1970s, conservatives began to believe that the places where people in government got their information – their basic facts — were inherently liberal. They didn’t like the answers they were hearing from universities, scientists, and research groups on what government should do…what policies we should follow. So some of them decided that they needed a whole different regime of knowledge and analysis – a different way of looking at the world – that would justify the policies that they wanted to see. They started new institutions – led by the Heritage Foundation – that would be the vanguard of a new, conservative ecosystem of ideas all aimed at explicitly justifying conservative policy. Eventually, as these institutions grew more successful, liberals followed suit.
Today, we live a world of deep polarization. Our two political tribes don’t seem to agree on anything, and nowadays, they sometimes can’t even agree on what is reality is. Can we trace it, or at least a big part of it, back to this moment when the fundamental way each party came to view reality began to be so consciously engineered? EJ Fagan, an Assistant Professor in the Department of Political Science at the University of Illinois at Chicago, traces these threads back to explain how we got here.