Is America dangerously divided?
June 15th, 2014
03:41 AM ET

Is America dangerously divided?

By Bruce Stokes, Special to CNN

Editor’s note: Bruce Stokes is director of global economic attitudes at the Pew Research Center. The views expressed are his own.

If you thought that political polarization in America was bad, think again. Because it’s worse than you thought. And if you’re under the impression that dysfunctionality in Washington is merely a product of partisan political gamesmanship on Capitol Hill, try again. Because a new survey finds that the divisions inside the Beltway actually reflect a deep ideological divide within the U.S. public that manifests itself not only in politics, but in everyday life. Indeed, this polarization is growing – and it has profound implications for economic and security issues that affect the rest of the world.

Republicans and Democrats in the United States are more divided along ideological lines, and the resulting political acrimony is deeper and more extensive, than at any point in recent U.S. history, according to the Pew Research Center survey. And such partisanship is having a greater impact on policy because these partisans make up a larger share of the politically engaged members of their parties.

The share of Americans who express consistently conservative or consistently liberal opinions on a range of issues – on the size and scope of government, the environment, foreign policy, among others – has doubled over the past two decades, from 10 percent to 21 percent. And this shift isn’t just about one party – Democrats have been moving to the left and Republicans have moved to the right. As a result, now roughly one-in-five Americans hold either strongly liberal or strongly conservative views. Meanwhile, the percentage of the American public that takes a liberal stance on some issues and a conservative one on others has fallen from half in 1994 to 39 percent today.

This recent polarization has taken on an unprecedented personal element. Sure, Democrats and Republicans haven’t always liked each other. But today the feelings appear far more hostile. For example, 36 percent of Republicans say the Democratic Party is a threat to the well-being of the country, while just over a quarter of Democrats see the GOP as a threat to the nation.

Moreover, many Democrats and Republicans today don’t even want to associate with each other. More than six-in-ten of consistent conservatives and about half of consistent liberals say most of their close friends share their political views. People on the right and the left also say it is important to them to live in a place where most people have similar political sentiments. And three-out-of-ten consistent conservatives say they would be unhappy if an immediate family member married a Democrat (compared with almost a quarter of across-the-board liberals who voice the same concern about the prospect of a Republican in-law).

Such partisans are increasingly active in their respective parties. In 1994, just 8 percent of politically-engaged Democrats were consistent liberals. In 2014, these strong liberals made up 38 percent of party activists. Similarly, 20 years ago consistent conservatives accounted for just under a quarter of politically-engaged Republicans. Today they represent one-third.

Needless to say, such partisanship complicates political deal-making. When asked about compromise on the most important issues facing the country, consistent conservatives say that congressional Republicans should get two-thirds of whatever they want and that the White House should get only one-third. Consistent liberals are no more conciliatory: 62 percent say that in any deal between Congressional Republicans and President Obama, the White House should get two-thirds of what it wants, while the GOP should only get one-third.

Such partisanship would be political theater for the rest of the world if it didn’t have such serious policy consequences.

For a start, there’s no doubt that Republicans and Democrats typically take broadly differing stances on major international issues. Among the American public, for example, Democrats are more supportive than Republicans of both a free trade agreement with Europe (60 percent to 44 percent) and a free trade agreement with Japan and other countries around the Pacific (59 percent to 49 percent). Republicans are for their part more sympathetic to Israel than are Democrats, while Democrats are more opposed to the U.S. getting involved in the Ukraine than are Republicans. All this suggests that finding compromise will be almost as tricky on foreign policy as it is on domestic.

True, political differences are a fact of life in any country. But a deepening ideological uniformity and partisan animosity in both politics and everyday life challenges one of the premises of a functioning democracy: the ability to make decisions through compromise. The political partisanship now evident in the United States is not politics as usual. It is something different. And we should all be watching it very closely.

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Topics: Politics • United States

soundoff (806 Responses)
  1. Lee

    I'm willing to bet a huge percentage of the reason why this polarization exists is thanks to Rush Limbaugh and Glen Beck. Glen Beck almost single handedly established the Tea party.

    June 15, 2014 at 8:12 pm | Reply
    • Michael Logan

      Always amazes me how Democrats are NEVER influenced by the media that favors their party. A very large part of the "1 in 5" is probably influenced heavily by the opinionated. But that includes Democrats as well. Works ways. Sorry to disappoint your unicorn fantasy.

      June 15, 2014 at 8:26 pm | Reply
      • Lee

        Fox utilizes fear and hate to get people riled up. Beck & Rush are the masters of this technique. these things mostly work on the uneducated masses who dont think for themselves and respond readily to such things.

        June 15, 2014 at 8:58 pm |
      • Canukman

        Well, if this is true, don't worry. They are just men and both are getting older. The problem should soon self-correct.

        June 15, 2014 at 9:10 pm |
      • sburns54

        Can you name any democratic opinion makers with the mesmerizing power that rush, or Glenn, or Sarah, etc have over THEIR zombie sycophants? I didn't think so.

        June 15, 2014 at 9:11 pm |
      • David Ross

        Have you ever listened to Stephanie MIller or some of the other left leaning radio heads? Geeesh, some of the most vitriolic hate spouting people I have every heard.....it is BOTH sides but only focusing on the right is just as much a part of the problem as those screwing up the country in the first place

        June 15, 2014 at 9:16 pm |
      • David Ross

        to sburns54: Yes, Stephanie Miller, Rachel Maddow, Hal Sparks, Norman Goldmann.....they are out there causing damage and very compelling, and articulate.

        June 15, 2014 at 9:18 pm |
      • keven

        Wow, you are so delusional, a typical right winger.
        Oh, the media is against us, don't believe anything but what we tell you.

        June 15, 2014 at 9:42 pm |
    • Walter Reed Jobia

      The issue is no one wants what is best for America. All of these politicians want is to be in politics for life. It's all about them and what they want for themselves. TERM LIMIT the clowns and get them out of running the country.

      June 15, 2014 at 8:27 pm | Reply
      • MICHAEL WHITE

        Term limits really don't work. If you look at California, all terms limits did was replace the experienced with the inexperienced and in fact you just got a more ideological candidate. Besides, do you really think someone who has only served in office for maybe 12 years deserves a life time pension? At least make it 20 max/minimum term so that they have to serve 20 years to get a pension but cannot hold office for more than 20 years. Think of the taxpayers first.

        June 15, 2014 at 8:38 pm |
      • sburns54

        People don't AGREE on what is best for America. The only item in a survey that got over 50% of the populace saying it should be cut to help balance the budget was foreign aid- and that is a small part of the budget. I say slash spending on the military hardware, no big corporate tax breaks, spend money on infrastructure and the environment. Many would have their own choices as to what is best that are different than mine.

        June 15, 2014 at 9:15 pm |
      • Thomas A. Hawk

        Walter,

        Right now both senior politicians and senior civil servants know how to run the government. The junior level ones don't.

        While not wonderful, there is some benefit to senior politicians keeping senior civil servants in check. Get rid of the senior politicians and who is going to keep the senior civil servants in check?

        June 15, 2014 at 9:28 pm |
    • GlobalONE

      Let me guess: two-thirds?

      June 15, 2014 at 8:30 pm | Reply
    • Starr

      You are absolutely right. I thought it started with Rush Limbaugh, but perhaps it did start with Beck. Either way they spread half truths, and spin intended to play to peoples hatred and prejudices. When someone calls them on the carpet, they hide behind their disclaimer of "This show is for entertainment purposes only". Sadly, their are too many people who can't see what is going on and believe everything these idiots say. There has got to be a special place in Hell for both Limbaugh, and Beck.

      June 15, 2014 at 8:38 pm | Reply
      • Jolat

        listen to yourself. You are, what you claim to despise. Two opinionated commentators have no influence. Look to the real leaders of our nation. It starts at the top. Obama is in charge. Figure it out.

        June 15, 2014 at 8:59 pm |
      • face01

        Starr, I believe you identified exactly when the extreme divisiveness began. The rise of the conservative hate-jock that occurred during the Clinton Admin created the environment for the increase of right-wing extremism. That social phenomena gathered steam until the very questionable election of GWB. The left woke up at this point. When it became clear that GWB lied about WMD to create support to go to war with Iraq, another major fracture occurred that absolutely ignited the left. This combined with the Great Recession of 2007 would cause a fragmentation that would only deepen with the election of President Obama. Obama, to fair, was able to turn the economy around from the brink, end the 2 poorly conceived wars he did not start, and get OBL.

        June 15, 2014 at 9:16 pm |
      • Joyce

        And you don't think liberal commentators are any different? Think about it. Ask yourself whether what your liberal/democrat talk show hosts are actually saying what's true, The are all trying to manipulate us....both sides. As long as they can maintain a rift between us, we will never get together on common goals.....and our common goals might only be achieved by overthrowing the current system. As long as we fight against each other, we cannot fight together.

        June 15, 2014 at 9:37 pm |
      • wilbodave

        I think the extremisim started in the Regan era, when the evangelical Christians decided to take over the Republican Party. I think the Democrats responded by becoming generally more extrreme as well. We need a third party, a "moderate" party, for the large amount of us who are tired of voting for the lesser of unfavorable exremes. Both parties cater to their core base, and both ingore the regular people who aren't "activists."

        June 15, 2014 at 9:45 pm |
    • colinrasmussen

      It takes two to tango. The left and right are equally to blame for the dysfunction in present day America.

      June 15, 2014 at 8:59 pm | Reply
    • Ignicio

      What planet are you on? The tea party is based on fiscal responsibility and budgetary issues. Today, we have a miserable economy thank you, President Obama. For flipping the birdie at small businesses and giving exemption to the public employee unions, especially for the Affordable Care Act. His failed economic policies to grow the private sector, setting up more free enterprise zones, has failed just like our clown Jerry Brown getting rid of community redevelopment agencies so more funding can be dished out to CalPERS, the monster of all the public employee unions in California who has control to increase contributions of the State & Feds at a drop of the hat.

      June 15, 2014 at 9:05 pm | Reply
      • Canukman

        Funny, as an outsider, I see the problem mainly with the Republicans and particularly with the Tea Party. Their policies are hard and unnecessarily extreme and well past their stale dates. Unlike other Western counties, life seems to be getting very hard for average citizens in the US. The pressure, frustration, jealousy and anger are starting to show and take their toll.

        Be kinder to each other. You may not be number 1 any more but you are still in the top 10 so be gratify and happy with your lives because they are much better than most people inherit.

        June 15, 2014 at 9:25 pm |
      • wilbodave

        You mention President Obama's "failed economic policies," but you fail to realize that part of the problem is that Republicans prevented him from implementing them. Our problems started before Obama was elected the first time, and nearly everything he's tried to do has been blocked by Republicans. Part of the blame is on him, yes, but it's difficult to really judge his ideas because Republicans have been intent to make him fail since day one. And any good that has come during Obama's administration has been dismissed, and anything that could be made into a scandal has been emphasized. I think Obama could have been a great president, if Republicans had given him a chance.

        June 15, 2014 at 9:55 pm |
      • TiredOfPaying

        If they had stuck to fighting against being 'Taxed Enough Already' they would have been welcome. However they quickly morphed into the American Taliban. Seriously the only difference between the Taliban and the Tea Party is the religion.

        June 16, 2014 at 2:38 pm |
    • Jojo62

      Oh boy are you full of it. The greater polarizer in the White House is responsible for the great divide. I've never seen so much hatred for a president ever.

      June 15, 2014 at 9:05 pm | Reply
    • Joyce

      Do you really think that Chris Matthews and others don't equally influence the left? These people....all of them...are not focused on uniting Americans, but are happier, and feel more successful, if they can draw us apart.

      June 15, 2014 at 9:15 pm | Reply
    • Joyce

      Lee, get real! Do you actually believe that Rush and Beck are the only one's trying to manipulate people? And that Fox is a demon? Take a close look at the liberal media, and say honestly that they are not as manipulative.Listen to Chris Matthews, closely, and ask yourself whether he is trying to inform you, or trying to inflame you.

      Think critically, not emotionally. Test what these people say. Ask yourself if it is true, based on fact. Not saying Rush or Beck are in any way better, but you have to use your critical thinking skills around both sides.....they are both trying to incite our basic emotions....and we shouldn't allow ourselves to be manipulated like that.

      June 15, 2014 at 9:22 pm | Reply
    • cobra

      You forgot to mention the limp dick that is facking being a president!

      June 15, 2014 at 9:23 pm | Reply
    • dee bolster

      There are just some people that are really vocal. In actuality I find more people in agreement on most things. Now the media wants to try and push people towards thoughts of what..civil war? Always whipping people into a frenzy over one thing or another. In the end I think Americans tend to take the middle road. We tolerate the extremes, but the largest share are moderate.

      June 15, 2014 at 9:36 pm | Reply
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    • Mike D.

      No. Ron Paul's supporters started the Tea Party in response to the Republican party and the Democrat party being so divided. Fox News then used all it's talking heads to usurp the Tea Party and use it as a scapegoat for the establishment GOP. Now people like you aim anger at the Tea Party instead of the correct people which would be the neo-conservative lead GOP.

      June 15, 2014 at 9:43 pm | Reply
  2. JulieMS

    The party backed media such as thi,s fuels the fire by adding their political agenda and articles like this to stir the pot.

    June 15, 2014 at 8:15 pm | Reply
  3. barb'sbarb

    There is no statesmanship - it's all about power, control, and last but certainly not least money....

    June 15, 2014 at 8:15 pm | Reply
    • colinrasmussen

      It's all about money. With money you can buy the other two things.

      June 15, 2014 at 9:00 pm | Reply
  4. Remy Bottorff

    How can this be? We are being led by the Great Uniter, no? That's what CNN and other major media have been communicating to us for years. Now you come up with this?

    June 15, 2014 at 8:17 pm | Reply
    • Paulwisc

      You made all that up. The press has been reporting the attack of the right on Obama since before he took office.

      June 15, 2014 at 9:27 pm | Reply
  5. bribarian

    We really need an American party. There's so much globalist and corporate nonsense involved in everything else. That's why I decided to support the Tea Party. They at the very least seem to be concerned with Americans, whereas everyone else seems to be just looking for the next vote.

    June 15, 2014 at 8:18 pm | Reply
    • Joe

      You've lost, tool. Give it up.

      June 15, 2014 at 8:26 pm | Reply
      • MICHAEL WHITE

        Lost? What's he lost? The Tea Party is for limited government and limited spending and reduction of the national budget debt. How is that a bad thing? People like you never give one good reason there is anything wrong with the Tea Party. Just innuendo. No proof.

        June 15, 2014 at 8:41 pm |
  6. PSYmuffin

    solution....split the country...oh that's right the subsidy hungry dems consists of the 51% of the population that doesn't pay income tax and no one would be around to pick up the tab

    June 15, 2014 at 8:19 pm | Reply
    • Hector

      You're an idiot. 51 %? Really? Go back to school and get educated! Tool.

      June 15, 2014 at 8:26 pm | Reply
      • MICHAEL WHITE

        How's he an idiot? Studies already confirm what he's saying. Most federal and state income taxes are paid by a minority of citizens in the United States...the real earners. Idiot for telling the truth or for saying something you don't like?

        June 15, 2014 at 8:49 pm |
    • Todd

      If it wasn't for people like you scams wouldn't exist.

      June 15, 2014 at 8:28 pm | Reply
    • Joe

      51% LOW INFO.

      June 15, 2014 at 8:28 pm | Reply
    • joel bishop

      you said it, and the GOP would hate the lack of cheap laborers but gain in well balanced government. I'd love to see the far left reap what they sow. The again the right would have its own major issues.

      June 15, 2014 at 8:28 pm | Reply
      • Joe

        You try to pretend you're some sort of "moderate" but it's obvious you vote straight ticket GOP. S T F U.

        June 15, 2014 at 8:31 pm |
      • queenbee

        I think the GOP would be embarassed and upset to find out that a good portion of the 47% on the public dole are actually Republicans in Red states.

        June 15, 2014 at 8:37 pm |
    • sparkyinnyc

      There was a study published earlier this year which cited which states are net takers from the Federal Government and which are net contributors. The study is available through a google search Look for Which states are net contributyors and which are net takers The study lists each state as a net contributor. Interestingly with the exception of Texas – all net contributors are Blue States (Democratic) and all Red states (GOP) are net beneficiaries from the Federal Government

      June 15, 2014 at 8:40 pm | Reply
      • Guess I'm a Rino

        And also, if you study the economic history of America since WWII, the most properous times in America have come when we had a Dem President along with a Dem controlled Congress. But yet the Repub party is supposed ot be the party that advances propsperity.

        June 15, 2014 at 9:08 pm |
    • Paulwisc

      More far-right hyperbole believed as fact by the far-righters who made it up. It is the red states that take the most from the government.

      June 15, 2014 at 9:28 pm | Reply
  7. dogma1000

    There is a direct correlation between the countries divide and the formation of the Tea Party.

    June 15, 2014 at 8:22 pm | Reply
    • bribarian

      There is a direct correlation between the countries divide and Obama.

      June 15, 2014 at 8:25 pm | Reply
      • Todd

        There is an even more direct correlation between the countries divide and a persons gullibility.

        June 15, 2014 at 8:26 pm |
      • Joe

        There's a direct correlation between you and stupidity.

        June 15, 2014 at 8:29 pm |
      • Hector

        There's a direct divide because people like you blame Obama and the Tea Party and not yourselves for being brainwashed by arguement active bout everything especially when it's something that doesn't suit your personal needs. Screw all the party's, screw you 2 for helping with the divide. It's obama. It's the republicans. It's the democrats. It's the tea party. It's glenn beck. It's Sarah Palin. It's rush Limbaugh. No people. It's more tha likely all of you.

        June 15, 2014 at 8:29 pm |
  8. Todd

    People are easily influenced by the spokesmen (media) for what ever cause they like. They will believe whatever they are told.
    Politics has become the newest sporting event on the internet where people choose a side and the trash talking is non-stop. It doesn't really matter what the issue is, people defend their side like its a sports team

    June 15, 2014 at 8:25 pm | Reply
  9. puddintane

    The one thing Obama could do is legalize dope and every American would pretty much wind up stoned, and lollig around in an apathetic stupor, munching Doritos "for peace and love"

    June 15, 2014 at 8:26 pm | Reply
    • Todd

      And, people like you could keep offering nothing, and our country can continue its downward spiral

      June 15, 2014 at 8:29 pm | Reply
    • Mike D.

      So if they legalize marijuana you will start smoking marijuana all the time? You should get help for that addictive personality disorder then. Surprised you let a law get in your way this long. Idiot.

      June 15, 2014 at 9:47 pm | Reply
  10. Rob S

    Are we DANGEROUSLY divided? No.

    June 15, 2014 at 8:31 pm | Reply
  11. Victor Reynauld

    "36 percent of Republicans say the Democratic Party is a threat to the well-being of the country..." – And most of them believe they have the right to shoot to kill those "dirty libruls" as they please. The profound ignorance of the right and the embracing of it is both astounding and depressing.

    June 15, 2014 at 8:34 pm | Reply
    • Davy

      That's one of the dumbest things I have ever heard, you should move to Iraq.

      June 15, 2014 at 8:36 pm | Reply
  12. Roland

    The USA has what is called a democracy deficit.Public policy does not follow public opinion.If you look at things like polls Americans are not hugely divided on major policy issues but they are divided on fringe issues.There is also a lot of misinformation being spread so people will protest "welfare" but at the same time believe the government should take care of those that cannot take care of themselves.It is a much more nuanced America that comes through if you dig a little deeper.Both democrats and republicans are "business parties" who agree on most things as do their corporate funders.So they fake differences between them.A lot of hysteria and fake propaganda.Obama's "change you can believe in" is a commercial slogan like selling toothpaste and we all know commercials are intended to make you into uninformed consumers making irrational choices.That is also the real divide in America that between the 1% and the 99% the onescwith money and power and those who do not.

    June 15, 2014 at 8:35 pm | Reply
    • shiz

      I was reading the comments just to find someone intelligent and who sees beyond the curtain and media hypocrisy, and here you are. most people in america are low information and the sad thing they dont know it. They believe everything the partisan media says. Infact the AMERICAN MEDIA IS THE NUMBER ONE REASON THIS COUNTRY IS DIVIDED SO BAD!!

      June 15, 2014 at 9:12 pm | Reply
  13. martin

    There are real differences in philosophy among Americans and political parties. But the media has to take blame for current division and in particular right wing media. Over the past 20 years or so a number of high-profile radio and tv personalities have risen to prominence on the right. Most of them have no journalism credentials and many of them have little education. Conservatism has been on the rise since probably the late 70s but now it's on the wane. And right wing media has gotten angrier and more radical as this happens. There really is not equivalent on the left at this point.

    June 15, 2014 at 8:36 pm | Reply
  14. schmit

    good comments pertaining to placing the blame on ourselves. We do it.. It's discussions like ths where people get heated up.. The media and polticians love it when we argue.. it keeps them rolling rolling rolling... We, the people.. need to wake up.. Stop arguing amongst each other.. find common ground... and I agree, create a party specifically by americans. No groomed politiicians.. no lobbying.. no special interest $. Just some electrician.. a bricklayer.. an office manager.. who cares. I just want some normal americans in office.. screw these groomed politicians and their "buddies"

    June 15, 2014 at 8:40 pm | Reply
  15. Ken

    Do America a favor: See a tea bagger demonstration? Swerve.

    June 15, 2014 at 8:43 pm | Reply
  16. Jessica McGwin

    I am a selfish American. I realize the great divide. I fear that most do not realize the consequence of this divide. It is not just the peace and security of our nation that is at stake but globe stability. As we begin on the path of destabilization the world has long waited for friction among US. If this divide grows into civil war. We will not stand as we did through the last. Neither side will be able to hold their ground. The moment we reach this point of instability we will be invaded and all will be lost to history. We decide our nations fate.

    June 15, 2014 at 8:46 pm | Reply
  17. chri§§y

    Lmao heres a reason @ Michael White...there just isnt enough caffeine in tea..lol. J/k

    June 15, 2014 at 8:47 pm | Reply
  18. Jolat

    Look to our leadership. Who is in charge. It starts at the top.

    June 15, 2014 at 8:55 pm | Reply
  19. Ken

    It's quite simple. I like associating with people who are intelligent, willing to discuss facts and information, and prefer thinking through problems to solutions rather than reacting emotionally. So yes, my friends are all conservatives and all vote Republican. And yes, we are all earning above average amounts of income. I think the two go together naturally.

    So why the differences? Well, Liberals tend to sit around wanting someone (Government in many cases) to DO something for them .. increase wages, give them medical, provide transportation, give them an education, protect them from harm, etcetera. Conservatives on the other hand don't sit around waiting for others as they don't expect the handouts. They fully expect to have to earn what you need in life by working at it. So they stand up and get to it, moving themselves along and dragging many of those sitting around looking for handouts with them. Yes they will take advantage of anything the Government is willing to give away be it tax breaks or support programs. I said they are intelligent and only a fool would not take advantage of such offers. They key difference is they don't expect it!

    One final observation. Over the next 20 years or so, all those liberals at the low end of the labor pool will be replaced with automation. They just had a machine pass a Turing test .. where 1/3 of the people conversing with the machine via a keyboard thought they were talking to a 13 year old boy. Computer advances are still following Moore's Law in relation to processing ability and other aspects. So in five years this computer programming should be able to respond like a young adult (low 20's) fooling a good 75% or people all the time. That will be enough to replace most jobs around phone or computer based services. Imagine calling into a phone to asks some questions. This computer program responds and looks up answes in a knowledge database supplying that as needed. That should cover 90% of calls. And the 10% that need more complex service will get shunted to a real human (for now). And just imagine how this technology can be interfaced with products to cook food to order with a voice activated kiosk in a fast food restaurant. Place your order, it gets cooked, and the only humans needed are to keep feeding raw materials in the machine, and take the order up to the counter. Utopia is coming for the intelligent hard working conservatives. And the liberals will descend into the economic hell they deserve and have earned through their lack of effort.

    June 15, 2014 at 8:56 pm | Reply
  20. Alan

    It's amazing how the comments on here confirm exactly what the article is saying. Kudos to Bruce Stokes for describing the problem so well. The ones who are the most outspoken think of themselves as "patriots", yet they could be jeopardizing the future of our nation.

    June 15, 2014 at 8:56 pm | Reply
  21. Michael, Chapel Hill

    A great President will bring people together; a bad one will divide them.

    June 15, 2014 at 8:57 pm | Reply
  22. theseconddavid

    Every dead liberal makes America a better place.

    June 15, 2014 at 8:58 pm | Reply
  23. bribarian

    Obviously the libfa ggots chose the wrong country to try and hijack. Should have just went to Canada or something.

    June 15, 2014 at 9:02 pm | Reply
  24. nojinx

    Partisanship: a voluntary mental handicap

    June 15, 2014 at 9:09 pm | Reply
  25. J

    We need a centrist/middle of the road party.

    Unfortunately, that is not possible with the volatile rhetoric that occurs today, over issues that until recently, were not "do or die" type issues. And I hate to say something partisan when what I really wish is for that to stop, but most often it comes from one side of the arguments' habit of referring to every opposing viewpoint as "hate". Don't believe in affirmative action? "Well, you must be a hateful racist." Nevermind debating what is actually best for the country, I'll just dismiss you as "hateful".

    Democrats have important views. And Republican politicians have done a good job of making themselves look stupid, true. But I think the democrats found that labeling everything their opponents believe in as "hate", and instilling fear of the other party, was the easiest way to keep voters and "win". It's like they found the cheat code to the game, and are comfortable with continuing to use it, despite the consequences it might have for the country. Democratic party: "Do we really want equality for minorities in this country? Orrrrr....should we continue to scare them that voting for the other side, will no doubt lead to them becoming a 10th class citizen?...despite the fact that conservative policies are made without referring to specific minorities, and that their policies just refer to Americans in general? Hmmm....yeah let's stick with the 'hate'" tactic.

    The consequences of "cheating", are this division. No longer can I see people having an intelligent conversation about ANYTHING, without it getting derailed by the false illusion of 'hate'. I have seen two people get along perfectly, having meaningful discussion...and then one of the "red buttons" gets pressed. "So...what do you think of gay marriage?" The person asking that is usually a democrat, and depending on your answer to that, you will either confirm that you are "worthy" of continuing to talk, or the conversation will cease entirely.
    -"What do you think about abortion?" -"I think it's wrong, to be honest. I think so becau.." – "Don't bother to finish your answer. It's clear you hate women. There was only one correct answer. This conversation is over."
    -"What are your thoughts on illegal immigration?" – "Well, I think it's a bit silly that not only are we not enforcing it, but we're giving a form of drivers licenses to them.." -"Oh, so you're a racist then, got it." – "Wait...what? How?"

    The problem isn't only with democrats. But I think this childish practice of attempting to find a way to pin every opposing viewpoint to "hate" somehow, is tearing this country apart. Viewpoints are not black and white. "Good" and "evil" are simplified concepts that were invented to make things easier for CHILDREN to understand. Adults converse. Adults don't take the easy route of automatically painting those that disagree with them as "evil" or hateful. Believe it or not, you're not the only one that was born with the ability to discern facts, and come to a conclusion. Stop trying to vilify one another, RESIST the desire to use the word "hate", and realize that others have reasons for believing the way they do.

    Can we just start to have conversations in this country, without the children bogging it down by alluding everything to hatred? I hope so. Because when countries get to the point that dialogue has ceased for long enough, those divisions erupt, often with world-shattering violence.

    June 15, 2014 at 9:13 pm | Reply
  26. Garry

    What would happen if the major media educated the American people with the facts on issues? What would happen if we had civil thoughtful discussions on the major issues shaping us and dividing us? What would happen if we heard diverse opinions and were able to enter into the world of those who differ from us? What we get today on the media is pseudo news and entertainment. Extremists on issues no matter how ignorant and no matter how incapable of a civil discussion get media attention because they generate controversy and excite people to anger and fear. None of this is a accident. American media wants advertisers who pay handsomely - so thoughtful and in depth coverage is out. We are to blame. News media that pump up the fear factor get the larger audiences. We enjoy our prejudices and want to keep them. Anyone who challenges us and our views –we castigate as the enemy. Just look at any forum after articles like this discussing the great divide. We each can decide to stop the name calling and demonizing and learn to have civil conversations or not. If we do not–more of the same. Because, if we ever have a real threat that demands action -I wonder if we could pull together to address it? Each individual must decide. We can work together to address our issues like mature adults - or not. There are consequences to our individual and collective choices.

    June 15, 2014 at 9:26 pm | Reply
  27. Libereightme

    I have mostly disagreed with, but didn't particularly dislike, Republicans. Heck, I even voted for Reagan twice, and a Republican Governor for my state once. Then the Tea Party came along.....

    June 15, 2014 at 9:27 pm | Reply
  28. chri§§y

    Lol @ sburns54 i might have agreed with you a little but you shot that all to he!! when you said "sarah and mesmerizing power" together! Good grief she is the furthest thing from mesmerizing or power! In fact it takes all i have not to hurl when she speaks!

    June 15, 2014 at 9:32 pm | Reply
  29. Self realization

    Most democrats and Republicans want the same things.

    A little opportunity and independence.
    Self realization.
    freedom and choices.

    The difference is in how they pursue this dream.

    The Republicans think we can get these things by subsidizing multinational Corporations and by dominating the world with a large military.

    Democrats think the path to that dream can be reached by educating our poor, giving equal civil liberties to all, giving workers some rights and leveling the the tax structure.

    Democrats think we should conserve our environment for the next generation.
    Republicans agree as long as it does not cost anything today.

    June 15, 2014 at 9:33 pm | Reply
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