American politics are becoming increasingly polarized. That polarization, experts say, can cause politicians to focus more on helping out their party, rather than doing what is good for the general public.

The School of Politics and Public Policy at West Virginia University will host Sean Theriault, a political science professor at the University of Texas at Austin, and scholar on congressional partisanship at 10 a.m. Friday in the Shenandoah Room of the Mountainlair.

Theriault will present “Party Warriors: The Ugly Side of Party Polarization in Congress,” a look at how Congress has become polarized and what it means for the future of American politics.

The event is free and open to the public. A question-and-answer session will follow.

“This will give people some background on where we are right now, with the challenges we’re facing in a very polarized political system in Washington,” said Scott Crichlow, director of the WVU School of Politics and Public Policy.

“Both houses of Congress have changed their behavior with the increasing level of polarization in the last 20 years. Can Congress still function in that way?”

Theriault researches American political institutions, primarily the U.S. Congress. His current research is on the Gingrich Senators, who entered Congress and led a group of insurgent conservatives whose chief aim was a Republican Party majority. This led to extreme polarization, something American politics had yet to experience.

He has published three books, “The Power of the People: Congressional Competition, Public Attention, and Voter Retribution” (Ohio State University Press, 2005); “Party Polarization in Congress” (Cambridge University Press, 2008); and “The Gingrich Senators: The Roots of Partisan Warfare in Congress” (Oxford University Press, 2013).

In addition to his books, Theriault has published numerous articles on subjects ranging from presidential rhetoric, congressional careers, the Louisiana Purchase and the Pendleton Act of 1883.

For more information, contact Scott Crichlow at (304) 293-9535 or



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