‘Tremendously divided’: UC Berkeley professor Darren Zook recaps election, discusses partisanship

Darren Zook

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UC Berkeley professor Darren Zook recapped the election in a virtual event organized by Dweebs Global on Nov. 4, one day after the general election.

Dweebs Global, a nonprofit organization that provides free mentorship, hosted the live event from 3-4 p.m. PST via Zoom. The event had a total of 22 attendees and featured a 30-minute lecture from Zook followed by a 30-minute question-and-answer session. During his presentation, Zook addressed extreme partisanship, the Electoral College and nonvoters.

“I want to push a little bit deeper and talk about things that the news stations are not talking about now,” Zook said during the event. “So don’t forget you saw it here first, as kind of my way of approaching this.”

He began his presentation by comparing the 2020 election to the 2016 election, noting that “campaigning never stopped” and people have remained engaged in politics.

Zook added that the United States is “tremendously divided,” and extreme partisanship has made Americans worse at understanding information, as they approach it through a partisan lens.

“I am not 100% sure that the results of this election are going to create a situation in which that hyperpartisanship, that division, is going to go away anytime soon,” Zook said at the event.

Regarding the controversy over the Electoral College, Zook said one problem is that parties are making decisions that “benefit the party rather than the country.” He added that when considering abolishing the Electoral College, Americans should instead focus on seeking the best decision for the country’s democratic system as a whole.

According to Zook, young voters between the ages of 18 and 30 are no longer motivated by civic duty and instead, often choose to not vote or to vote for a third party because they feel that the current political system did not “earn their votes.”

“The idea is, ‘The system itself is broken,’ and, ‘Convince me I should vote for a voting system that seems, in a weird way, rigged,’” Zook said at the event. “These are healthy questions, and I think people should pay attention to them.”

Zook also advised that people should not pin all their hopes on the outcome of any one part of the election because people can still work to improve politics regardless of the election results.

At the end of his presentation, Zook stressed that “echo chambers” and a lack of civil conversations are exacerbating the political divide in the United States.

“Regardless of who wins, the idea is that if civil society continues to erode and divide, you end up undermining one of the most foundational bricks in the foundation of American democracy,” Zook said at the event. “We need to find a way to talk across our differences.”

Contact Jasmine Lee at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @JasmineLee_02.