Greg Berman, Aubrey Fox
2023 |
Political Science

A call to tone down our political rhetoric and embrace a common-sense approach to change. Many experts believe that we are at a fulcrum moment in history, a time that demands radical shifts in thinking and policymaking. Calls for bold change are everywhere these days, particularly on social media, but is this actually the best way to make the world a better place? In Gradual, Greg Berman and Aubrey Fox argue that, contrary to the aspirations of activists on both the right and the left, incremental reform is the best path forward. They begin by emphasizing that the very structure of American government explicitly and implicitly favors incrementalism. Particularly in a time of intense polarization, any effort to advance radical change will inevitably engender significant backlash. As Berman and Fox make clear, polling shows little public support for bold change. The public is, however, willing to endorse a broad range of incremental reforms that, if implemented, would reduce suffering and improve fairness. To illustrate how incremental changes can add up to significant change over time, Berman and Fox provide portraits of "heroic incrementalists" who have produced meaningful reforms in a variety of areas, from the expansion of Social Security to more recent efforts to reduce crime and incarceration. Gradual is a bracing call for a "radical realism" that prioritizes honesty, humility, nuance, and respect in an effort to transcend political polarization and reduce the conflict produced by social media.

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The Case for Incremental Change in a Radical Age