Eric M. PatashnikNov 12, 2023
Policy Feedback and Backlash in a Polarized Age
University of Chicago Press 2023
The most successful policies not only solve problems. They also build supportive coalitions. Yet, sometimes, policies trigger backlash and mobilize opposition. Although backlash is not a new phenomenon, today's political landscape is distinguished by the frequency and pervasiveness of backlash in nearly every area of US policymaking, from abortion rights to the Affordable Care Act. Eric M. Patashnik develops a policy-centered theory of backlash that illuminates how policies stimulate backlashes by imposing losses, overreaching, or challenging existing arrangements to which people are strongly attached.
Drawing on case studies of issues from immigration and trade to healthcare and gun control, Countermobilization: Policy Feedback and Backlash in a Polarized Age (U Chicago Press, 2023) shows that backlash politics is fueled by polarization, cultural shifts, and negative feedback from the activist government itself. It also offers crucial insights to help identify and navigate backlash risks.
Stephen Pimpare is a Senior Fellow at the Carsey School of Public Policy at the University of New Hampshire.