U.S. politics increasingly looks like a savage battle between left and right. Consistent with closing ranks in a battle, Americans are expressing policy opinions that align more and more with their political groups. Of all conflicts between groups in America, partisanship is one of the most divisive, with 86% of Americans seeing strong conflicts between Republicans and Democrats. Yet, political differences are not always caused for alarm. Increased sorting could reflect identification with groups that better match our values. Perhaps Republicans and Democrats can’t compromise because their policy preferences are irreconcilable. However, this doesn’t explain why Americans personally dislike political opponents with such intense fervor. U.S. liberals and conservatives not only disagree on policy issues: they are also increasingly unwilling to live near each other, be friends, or get married to members of the other group. This rejection based on group membership is called affective polarization, meaning that our feelings (affect) are different towards members of our own group compared to outsiders. Growing intolerance in the U.S. is a puzzle because disagreeing about policies need not cause rampant mistrust and legislative gridlock. For example, countries with proportional electoral representation like Germany create functional coalitions across different ideologies. continue at scientificamerican.com
Political tribalism: behavior, not the issues at fault
It seems at the source of all our American issues, the root of our particular problem is behavior. Everyone wants what they want and genuinely could care less what others want.
Nice. A scientific study aimed at what someone who is paying attention could already express. The article generally mirrors what I have been watching steadily from a big picture view for a while now. Like George Carlin once expressed, life is a circus folk, and living here in these United States is a front row seat. I am not really vested in the debate, belong to neither the red tribe or the blue tribe, for tribes they indeed are. And warring tribes at that. It seems at the source of all our American issues, the root of our particular problem is behavior. Everyone wants what they want and genuinely could care less what others want. Those people who want the same things coalesce to a tribe. Tribal people are generally unwilling to work with opposing tribes to mutually dissatisfactory outcomes that can be lived with. At least not without a dire threat of mutual concern impending. Which there is, by the way. What the article didn’t express is that this is not new, and it is one of the indicators of a society in sharp decline. When “those people over there” are the people you work and live with, the potential for a positive outcome becomes very small. I just figured out what that strange rumbling I heard when I visited Mt. Vernon earlier in the year. It was George Washington, spinning in his grave.
How Identity, Not Issues, Explains the Partisan Divide
By: By Cameron Brick, Sander van der Linden
Upside down and divided