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Demovictory9

(32,234 posts)
Mon May 23, 2022, 03:17 AM May 2022

No established democracy in recent history has been as deeply polarized as the U.S. [View all]

The Doom Spiral of Pernicious Polarization
The U.S. is more dangerously divided than any other wealthy democracy. Is there a way back from the brink?

By Yascha Mounk


Until a few decades ago, most Democrats did not hate Republicans, and most Republicans did not hate Democrats. Very few Americans thought the policies of the other side were a threat to the country or worried about their child marrying a spouse who belonged to a different political party.

All of that has changed. A 2016 survey found that 60 percent of Democrats and 63 percent of Republicans would now balk at their child’s marrying a supporter of a different political party. In the run-up to the 2020 presidential election, the Pew Research Center reported that roughly nine out of 10 supporters of Joe Biden and of Donald Trump alike were convinced that a victory by their opponent would cause “lasting harm” to the United States.


As someone who lived in many countries—including Germany, Italy, France, and the United Kingdom—before coming to the United States, I have long had the sense that American levels of partisan animosity were exceptionally high. Although I’d seen animosity between left and right in other nations, their hatred never felt so personal or intense as in the U.S.

A study just published by the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace confirms that impression. Drawing on the Variety of Democracies (V-Dem) data set, published by an independent research institute in Sweden that covers 202 countries and goes back more than two centuries, its authors assess to what degree each country suffers from “pernicious” levels of partisan polarization. Do their citizens have such hostile views of opponents that they’re willing to act in ways that put democracy itself at risk?

The authors’ conclusion is startling: No established democracy in recent history has been as deeply polarized as the U.S. “For the United States,” Jennifer McCoy, the lead author of the study and a political-science professor at Georgia State University, told me in an interview, “I am very pessimistic.”


On virtually every continent, supporters of rival political camps are more likely to interact in hostile ways than they did a few decades ago. According to the Carnegie study, “us versus them polarization” has been increasing since 2005. McCoy and her colleagues don’t try to explain the causes, though the rise of social media is obviously a contributing factor.

https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2022/05/us-democrat-republican-partisan-polarization/629925/

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