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Bill Clinton admits diversity has failed in speech.


CofCC.org News Team

Bill Clinton, who sought out Prof. Putnam for a meeting while President of the United States, appears to support Putnam’s findings that diversity is causing Americans to isolate themselves rather than come together.

From AP…

“Underneath this apparent accommodation to our diversity, we are in fact hunkering down in communities of like-mindedness, and it affects our ability to manage difference,” Clinton said.

Clinton developed his 44-minute speech from themes he said he drew from a new book, “The Big Sort,” by Bill Bishop.

He cited statistics compiled by Bishop that found that in the 1976 presidential election, only 20 percent of the nation’s counties voted for Jimmy Carter or President Ford by more than a 20 percent margin.

By contrast, 48 percent of the nation’s counties in 2004 voted for John Kerry or President Bush by more than 20 points, Clinton said.

“We were sorting ourselves out by choosing to live with people that we agree with,” Clinton said.

Clinton has often meshed big picture admonitions with new books whose ideas he admires. He drew similar conclusions in 2000 following the publication of Robert Putnam’s “Bowling Alone,” on the decline of civic engagement in the United States.

Read Article.

CofCC.org has reported on Prof. Robert Putnam’s important research in the past. His most famous work, Bowling Alone, argues that the United States has undergone an unprecedented collapse in civic, social, associational, and political life since the 1960s, due to decreased homogeneity in American life.

Putnam originally wrote Bowling Alone in 1995 and was invited to meet President Bill Clinton as a result of the book. In 2000 he wrote an expanded edition with more evidence and answers to his critics.

In 2001 Putnam began his most aggressive research on the effects of diversity. He waited six years to publish his own findings because he felt they were so controversial.

Putnam found that high levels of diversity means

  1. Lower confidence in local government, local leaders and the local news media.
  2. Lower political efficacy – that is, confidence in one’s own influence.
  3. Lower frequency of registering to vote, but more interest and knowledge about politics and more participation in protest marches and social reform groups.
  4. Less expectation that others will cooperate to solve dilemmas of collective action (e.g., voluntary conservation to ease a water or energy shortage).
  5. Less likelihood of working on a community project.
  6. Less likelihood of giving to charity or volunteering.
  7. Fewer close friends and confidants.
  8. Less happiness and lower perceived quality of life.
  9. More time spent watching television and more agreement that “television is my most important form of entertainment”.

See New York Times Article on Putnam’s Research.