Policy Problems and Solutions: Climate Change and Structural Racism

Join host Collin Paschall and guest Benjamin Kantack for a discussion of the public policy debate around “Climate Change and Structural Racism.”

Public policy debates in the United States about how to respond to complex issues like climate change and structural racism are often portrayed in polarized terms. Progressives are seen as advocating for transformational responses to major problems, while conservatives are portrayed as denying these problems’ existence. However, such depictions obscure the presence of a third bloc that acknowledges these problems’ existence but does not support drastic approaches to solving them. Using survey experiments, we examine the relationships between problem belief and solution support in these two issues areas. We find overlap between those who acknowledge the existence of these problems and those who oppose large-scale policy solutions. Furthermore, we observe that the solution proposed may influence attitudes toward the problem. Our results suggest that political scientists and policy activists overestimate the extent of denial of these problems and mistarget persuasive efforts by focusing on problem belief over solution support.

Collin Paschall is a Senior Lecturer and Interim Program Director with the Center for Advanced Governmental Studies at Johns Hopkins University. He received his PhD in Political Science from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and his JD from The George Washington University Law School.

Ben Kantack is an assistant professor of political science at Lycoming College. He primarily teaches courses on topics in American politics, such as U.S. government, public policy, and public opinion, as well as courses in other areas such as research methods.

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