American politicshas faced many issues over time. One for more recent times involvespolarization. Polarization remains to be a strong commitment to not just apolitical candidate, but also a culture or ideology that sets a one group ofpeople apart from another group, one that is considered a rival.
Polarizationaffects political parties, ideology, and engagement of the people.(Blankenhorn, 2015). “People often assume polarization is a synonym forextremism. It isn’t”, polarization is sorting, separating each political partyor ideology father to the left or right (Klein, 2014). Polarization does nothave one set cause, but many put together is what has caused polarization toincrease other the years.
This matters because of the effect that polarizationputs on the American people.In Americanpolitics what matter most is how the three forms of political polarization interactwith one another. Political party polarization involves elected officialstaking positions far apart from the center on ideology (Sides., Hopkins, 2015).Party polarization has become one of the causes for gridlock in Americangovernment (Polarization and Political Moderates).
American politics once had atime where ideology and political parties crossed lines and conservativeDemocrats & Republican and liberal Republicans and Democrats existed.Ideology polarization involves the distance and lack of cross over betweenliberals and conservatives (Sides., Hopkins, 2015). In recent times Democratshave become more liberal and Republicans have become more conservative(Piereson, 2015). Ideology affects weather a person is more likely to supportthe Democratic or the Republican parties polices and candidates for electiveoffice, with this greater separation between Democrats and Republicans offersvoters “a choice, not an echo” (Nivola, 2005). Ideological separation has givenrise to a greater gab in the political party and type of people that chose tofollow one party over another.
The involvement of the people or engagement ofthe people remains to be another factor and type of polarization in Americanpolitics that has become polarized. How different those who are politicallyinactive compared to those who are engaged in political issues (Sides.,Hopkins, 2015). People who are more involved are more likely to get angry andbe fear compared to those that do not participate in politics and informthemselves (Klein, 2014).Polarization doesnot just magically appear one day, but has a history and causes for why it ishappening. A greater polarization trend began in the 1970s (Poole). It isimpossible to pin point one specific reason for polarization in America(Piereson, 2015).
Polarization grew in many different ways. When theideological points of Republicans and Democrats began to change, partyrealignment became one of the major causes of polarization in American politics(Haidt, 2014). Prior to 1980s there was a mix in ideology of republican partyand democratic party, the republican had a liberal wing and democrats hadconservative wing (Fiorina, 2014). With time people who are conservatives aremore incline to identify themselves as conservatives, compared to liberals.Liberals are less likely to identify themselves as liberals. “Differentpolitical parties believe that there are very different challenges facing thecountry” (Austin, 2016).
Liberals andconservatives have been sorting themselves into cleansed parties, colliding ina competition for power belief that their own party is better then the other,they repulse each other. Over time party sorting has left both politicalparties with a lack of diversity in the ideology that they side with (Haidt.,Abrams, 2015). Each party has strong personal and emotionally charged negativefeelings for one another, their hate for each other could be calledpolarization (Fiorina, 2014). “45% of republicans and 41% of Democrats thinkthe other party is so dangerous that it is a threat to the health of thenation” (McConnell, et al., 2017).
Republicans and Democrats have showndispleasure in the idea of their child marrying a member the other party(Blankenhorn, 2015) . Political views are major factor in the separation of thetwo major political parties, but many who label themselves as liberal orconservative also want different lives, in different places with differentpeople (Patterson, 2015). People wanting tolive near and with people like themselves in similar places, has given rise toHomogeneity within communities and these places are becoming places ofextremes. “Americans have been sorting themselves into communities where peopleincreasingly live, think, and vote like their neighbors” (Tuschman, 2014). Homogeneityand separation of ideological views is becoming greater with the help oftechnology, people can find the perfect people, in the perfect place rightonline (Nivola, 2005).
A Relationship between spouses’ ideology views ispresent. Spouses tend to agree on moral issues like school prayer and abortion.People are choosing mates that they agree with and share ideology. Thesecouples’ similar views carry over to their children, our nation is becomingmore polarized through breeding. Since the views of parents are carrying overto their child, questioning weather political orientation can be considered amoderately inheritable trait is in order (Tuschman, 2014). The separation ofthe two parties not just in ideology, but also in way of life and living is growingthe gap between both parties. Age andgenerational changes increases the ideological gap between parties and views onpolitical factors in the country (Binder, 2000).
The increasing number of yearsin ages between generations, is growing the cultural gap between them. This gapin time and culture is making it easier for the generations to have differentideologies and hate each other. These generations have different numbers ofpeople who are liberal or conservative, “45% millennials are liberal while only15% are conservative” while the “Silent Generation (born between 20s and 40s)have 40% are conservative while 26% are liberal” (Klein, 2014). Education hasan impact on generational influence on polarization. The level ofeducation influences polarization in American. Those who have a higher level ofeducation are more likely to be involved, opinionated about politics and becomemore polarized with in their political affiliation. Those who are “highlyeducated liberals become more liberal, while highly educated conservatives growmore conservative” (Tuschman, 2014). More education leads to greater growth ofthe ideological gap in people (Binder, 2000).
Over time morecongress members are replaced, this remains to be where we began to see a shiftin more extreme views. Current politicians are not taking on or converting tomore extreme views, but are being replaced by those who hold more extremeideology. Legislature is becoming more polarized because of replacement(Ellenberg, 2001). The role of money in politics has increased over time(Haidt, 2014). With greater amounts of money being put into politics, there isnow a “stronger incentive to please the big, well-networked donors who fundtheir party”, politicians are looking to keep donors happy to keep receivingthe fat checks (Haidt., Abrams, 2015). With more money comes the ability toadvertise more, bringing light to the gap that exists between the parties. Moremoney means more in the media about the current happening in politics.
Polarization has been around for longer than thought, but now through media itis being brought out of the shadows and to the people (Haidt, 2014).Polarization isnot just a thing of the present, but also had a place during part of the coldwar. During the beginning of the cold war both parties strongly supported thewar. Eventually though the parties’ views spilt into those who were for thewar, the hawks and those who were for peace, the doves. By the end foreignpolicy and response to foreign threats became more troublesome (Haidt.
, Abrams,2015). This lead to disagreements over foreign alliances in times ofimmigration rise and racial diversity (Haidt, 2014).Extremism andpolarization are in no way the same thing. Polarization has to do with theseparating of two groups and extremism has to do with how strong and far toleft of right the views are. Extremism can be seen as the way for polarizationto occur. Ideology can be liberal or conservative and be moderate or extremeviews on the ideas at hand (Nivola, 2005). Extremes are far from the center ormoderates on views (Fiorina, 2014).
Extreme describes how strong their opinionsare on a given idea. The “political extremists in the population had increasedfrom 4.5 to 11.2 percent, while moderates dropped by 17 percent” this showsthat over time there has been a great increase in the number of those involvedwith politics in extreme viewpoints (Tuschman, 2014).
“It would bringshame to our constitution and our democracy if it turns out that Washington canaddress major problems only in those brief periods in which one party controlsall the levers of power. And it would bring admiration and hope if congress andthe president can buck recent history and find ways to work togetherconstructively” (Haidt., Abrams, 2015). Polarization is crippling our politics,coarsening our culture, weakening our intellects and making it tougher to begood neighbors and good citizens.
Polarization is causing a stand still ingovernment, producing a gridlock (Blankenhorn, 2015). District that havepolarization present in them are less competitive and have less news coverageduring times of elections (Poole, 2016). What little makes it to the news is anincrease of politicians resembling silly children throwing food at each other,dealing out abuse and accusations, which most would consider unspeakably rudeif they were in their own homes. Vindictiveness, disruptiveness and dumb downconversation is what is making it into the news, and this is degrading thepublic (Blankenhorn, 2015). Polarization segregates us and contributes toinequality. Political partisanship increasingly correlated with income level.Widening rich-poor divide between two main parties, economic interest of higherincome Americans and lower income American greatly different in ideas. Theincome difference divides our nation.
Leading to differences in residential andgeographical living and based on those, connection to a specific party orviews. People tend to rarely befriend or even have a personally encounter withsomeone who disagrees with their political views (Blankenhorn, 2015). Throughthis separation of income and living location, begins to form of loss of trust.Mistrust of others and the government is magnified by polarization puttingwedge between people in various ways. Through separation leads to reducing insocial trust, people do not want to interact others of different ideologicalviews in fear of strong hatred to different points of views. This loss of trustand separation through polarization greatly increases the negativity towardsothers. Trust is “social glue” that helps make it possible law, effectivegovernmental institutions, a thriving civil society and economic dynamism.
Withlinks to intellect division because of polarization has led to misunderstandingsand distorted thinking on both sides of the political spectrum. Less trust inour political institutions and each other leads to a diminishment of our civiccapacity and this lowers the caliber of our citizenships and takes way fromwhat it means to be a citizen of the United States of America (Blankenhorn,2015).