Polarization and Political Violence: Rachel Kleinfeld

Common Ground Committee Let's Find Common Ground Episode 96

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Polarization and Political Violence: Rachel Kleinfeld

Violent threats against members of Congress are up, and hate crimes have increased to the highest levels ever recorded. Fear is being used as a tool by both Republicans and Democrats to win votes.

In this episode, we speak with Rachel Kleinfeld, a fellow in the Democracy, Conflict and Governance Program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

Rachel says people talking across differences isn’t enough to end polarization, even if it can create goodwill and lower the temperature in the short term: there needs to be institutional change, and politicians who come together to defend democratic norms.

A recent guest in the UK told us it sometimes seems like the US is on the verge of civil war. Rachel says this is unlikely. As someone who grew up in Alaska among neighbors firing the occasional warning shot from their yards, she knows firsthand that ‘threats and justification for violence are not the same as attacks.’

Hear more on the latest episode of Let’s Find Common Ground.

Dr. Rachel Kleinfeld

Common Ground Committee Let's Find Common Ground Episode 96 Dr Rachel Kleinfeld headshot

Dr. Rachel Kleinfeld has made a career of shoring up potential cracks in democracy in the U.S. and around the world. As a senior fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, Rachel is a leading expert on the intersection of democracy and security, with a particular focus on research that can assist countries facing polarized populations, violence, and corruption.

Rachel is engaged in a range of pro-democracy efforts, including service on the boards of the National Endowment for Democracy, Freedom House, and States United for Democracy, and as a member of the National Task Force on Election Crises. Her work on security and police reform includes service on the UN Security Sector Reform Advisory Group and as a fellow with the Halifax International Security Forum; she has also advised the UN, EU, and multiple governments.

Rachel is the author of three books and appears frequently in the media. Her TED talk on improving violent, polarized democracies has been translated into 17 languages and viewed over a million times.

From 2011 to 2014, Rachel served on the Foreign Affairs Policy Board, which advises the Secretary of State quarterly. In 2010 she was named one of the top 40 Under 40 Political Leaders in America by Time magazine for her decade as the founding CEO of the Truman National Security Project, which fostered a new generation of military veterans and national security leaders, helped campaigns, and advanced policies that advanced the rule of law, human rights, and national security.

A Rhodes Scholar, Rachel holds degrees from Yale and Oxford Universities. Raised in a log house on a dirt road in Fairbanks, Alaska, she now lives with her husband and two fierce daughters out West.