Brief: Client is an app developer working on a political communications mobile app and website. The task was to write a long-form blog post using the top keywords surrounding the topic of political polarization.
Keywords: Political polarization, divided America, political divisiveness, party polarization, partisan polarization, cross-party antipathy, swing issues, polarization identity, etc.
Title: POLITICAL POLARIZATION IN DIVIDED AMERICA: WHAT CAN WE DO?
Subhead: Let’s take a look at political polarization in divided America and see where we can come together.
<H1>HEY DIVIDED AMERICA, WE ARE MORE ALIKE THAN YOU THINK!
2020 is one of the lowest points in American political history. Not because of what is happening in Washington, D.C., (which we all can agree is not good) but because the country is experiencing more political divisiveness than in the previous 40 years. This makes America an outlier. According to a January 2020 paper in the National Bureau of Economic Research by Boxell, Gentzkow, and Shapiro, party polarization is actually leveling off or decreasing in 6 of the 9 countries comprising Western society. Of the remaining three, political polarization in America has risen far more quickly and far more drastically, than in countries like Canada and Switzerland.
<H2>WHAT IS POLITICAL POLARIZATION AND WHY IS IT HAPPENING HERE?
In politics, this refers to “partisan polarization,” where political attitudes diverge to ideological extremes. Think of the most anti-gun, socialist, big government Democrat you can, then think of the most small government, religiously motivated, gun loving Republican you can – have you got the mental image? That is political polarization. It is divided America; it is “you’re with us or against us.” It is families sitting uncomfortably around the dinner table trying to make small talk to avoid talking about current political issues in fear Adele will not be there to save them from cross- party antipathy.
[insert video] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e2zyjbH9zzA
The question of why political polarization in America is happening is complicated. Much of it can be attributed to deliberate party polarization and Gerrymandering, as it is in the best interests of both Republicans and Democrats to divide us from each other, by highlighting our most extreme differences and driving us into tribal groups who vote based on “swing issues” (abortion, gun control, taxes, climate, etc.) Economic division also plays a part in political polarization – as the wants/needs of the devastatingly poor are vastly different from the wants/needs of the extremely wealthy are different from the wants/needs of the shrinking middle class.
More dangerously: Two regularly overlooked causes of polarization identity in our country are the media and social media, respectively.
How Facebook, Twitter, Fox News, And MSNBC Are Causing Polarization Politics
The overwhelming irony in stating media and social media are major causes of the antipathy that is causing “divided America” is the proliferation of media outlets on cable and the Internet were meant to give us choice in news consumption. And, initially, social media platforms were meant to make the global community smaller and more inclusive, rather than drive us apart and polarize us.
What has resulted instead is social flocking, where we are being driven into groups who share one, if not more, “extreme” political viewpoints. And because we have so much choice in delivery, we are receiving our news in an echo chamber which only reflects our own political beliefs.
We know this to be true. On social media we are divided into groups of “Libtards” or “Snowflakes” or “MAGAs” or “Cuckservatives.” And, when was the last time you – a Democrat —sat down and listened to Bill Kristol’s podcast for the conservative viewpoint? Or, you – a Republican, tuned into MSNBC to listen to Rachel Maddow’s A-block for the liberal POV?
The simple truth is that you haven’t. Despite the fact both Maddow and Kristol are highly educated, critical thinkers who present compelling commentary on politics.
Liberals don’t tune into Fox News, conservatives don’t read The Washington Post, and few of us read/ listen / think about points of view that differ from our own.
Because politicians and extreme partisan media and social flocking have demonized “the other guy” and convinced us we are ideologically opposite based on our party affiliation.
But, it is not true.
Where Does “Divided America” Come Together?
Despite what is reported in the news and what you see on social media, the majority of this country actually fall in the middle spectrum of political affiliation: The Moderates.
Moderates have some very liberal views and some rather conservative views. We usually choose to affiliate with the party that addresses the core issue most important to us in the way we agree with or we vote Independent. The Moderate is the negotiator, the one who wants to reach across the aisle to find common ground and get things done. We are John McCain and Joe Biden.
So what political topics do Ds and Rs agree on, or come close to agreeing on?
You’re going to be surprised!
What We Basically Agree On
Democrats and Republicans agree on climate change. The majority of both parties believe climate change is real. It is an imminent threat to civilization. We need to support increasing energy efficiency. We need to modernize the electric grid. We need to remove as much C02 from the ecosystem as possible. Most important, the government should provide assistance to cities and states to fight climate change. We all basically agree on these points.
Republicans and Democrats agree on reasonable gun control: Both parties agree on mandatory background checks prior to gun purchases online, at gun shows, and in gun stores; on preventing those on the “no fly” list from making gun purchases; on preventing the severely mentally ill or people with documented violent backgrounds from owning guns. Moreover, we agree that responsible gun owners should be allowed to own handguns and rifles for hunting and home defense. (What constitutes a responsible gun owner and what weapons are included in those categories are a source of heated debate, though.)
Democrats and Republicans agree on individual liberties and democratic values: However, each party says the other doesn’t. But, when presented with non-politically polarized examples (such as: “Do you believe in freedom of choice?” “Do you support freedom of assembly?” “Do you support freedom of speech?”), we uniformly agree that these are core components of our democracy that must be upheld. Of course, when a political or social issue is added into the question (such as: “Do you support a woman’s right to choose whether or not to terminate a pregnancy?” “Do you support President Trump criticizing Justice Ginsburg?” or “Do you support Black Lives Matter assembling in your city?”), you will see each party’s approval/disapproval of those core components of liberty and democratic values adjust up or down, accordingly. (Further proving how much divisiveness actually affects our base values when tested.)
Republicans and Democrats actually agree on a bunch more issues than the three major sticking points above. We agree on protecting our country from terrorism; strengthening the economy; creating more jobs; improving public education; improving infastructure; reducing the deficit; improving healthcare; and ensuring Social Security and Medicare are safe and sound.
So WHY the F are we so politically polarized? Because we have been pushed into groups that reflect our core beliefs. The Extremists (who are far louder than us Moderates, even though we outnumber them) have done an excellent job of demonizing the opposition. Not to mention, we functionally disagree a lot of the time on how to solve the problems we all agree should be solved.
Despite the majority of the country agreeing in some part on core issues, the outlook is grim, as most Americans perceive political polarization will get far, far worse in the next 30 years.
What Can We Do To Stop The Political Polarization?
The answer is really simple. We can talk with the understanding that we disagree, but are working on finding a common solution. We can take the hate and ideology out of our political interactions. We can stop stereotyping, dismissing, ridiculing, and treating the opposition contemptuously.
We can strive to be apolitical and bipartisan.
We, The Moderates, the majority of this country, can proceed to dismantle party polarization simply by bringing constructive debate back into our political conversations. Chances are if you are here, reading this blog, you have more interest in finding solutions to our country’s problems than fighting about semantics. So let’s proceed with the notion all ideas are good ideas which should be discussed seriously and examined with care in order to determine if they are workable or not.
Let us listen to each other and really hear what is being said!
Remember, we have two huge things in common that cannot be transcended: We are all human beings. And, we are all Americans.
Let the dialogue commence.