This is Part Two (of two). Read Part One here.
While I’m a big fan of The Big Sort for all the reasons discussed in Part One of this review (among other reasons), I was disappointed by the author’s symmetrical depiction of the ways the left and right demonstrate his Big Sort theory, and by the book’s uncritical reinforcement of the story of the moderate center. Sure, I see convincing reasons why author Bill Bishop wrote the book exactly the way he did – and not exactly the way I may have wanted him to. Perhaps the most obvious reason is that for The Big Sort to be seen as an objective commentary on political self-segregation and partisanship in the United States, the author surely saw the sense in giving equal attention and critique to how his theory plays out on the left and the right. He is, after all, a journalist.
Where this becomes a problem is when he gives the false impression that the right and the left, or Republicans and Democrats (and, no, I don’t think those labels are interchangeable) exhibit his theory in mirrored fashion. He neglects to give adequate attention to significant qualitative differences. These differences are, IMHO, indispensably instructive for how we approach the democratic crisis that Bishop is pointing us to.