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Why is U.S. society so polarized over politics? What do you think are the root causes of this bitter division?


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The root cause recently is because leftists are handling Hillary’s election loss so badly, I suspect because it means the end of the promised globalist utopia.

-9 ( +4 / -13 )

The root cause recently is because leftists are handling Hillary’s election loss so badly, I suspect because it means the end of the promised globalist utopia.

What was it before then? Rightist lunatics undermining the previous president with trash conspiracy theories?

12 ( +14 / -2 )

People are manipulated 24/7 by social and news media and argue with faceless others on the net, where they don't need to be polite or to see the other person as a decent human being. That carries over into real life.

Also, without an established religion, people will usually create their own religious world. It may not have gods, but it will have very extreme concepts of good and evil. This is now based along political lines.

Short up, people are ruled by their emotions and all kinds of irrational factors. They try to gloss it over with rationalization and the belief that they are uniquely good and intelligent.

6 ( +8 / -2 )

Fear, greed, and selfishness.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

During the Clinton administration, the Republicans were fairly nasty. They used the "L" word (liar), instead of calling someone's statements untrue or factually incorrect. 1 is about the words, the other is about a person's character. And it has continued.

If I had to pick 1 person, Bob Barr/GA comes to mind.

Civility in politics has been gone ever since then.

There is plenty of blame these days, on both sides. Just look through the comments on almost any news site that allows them.

4 ( +6 / -2 )

A lot of Americans want America to be something its not.

To be something the constitution does not support.

Look up negative rights versus positive rights.

Ultimately, that's where a lot of the argument comes from.

1 ( +5 / -4 )

Being of many backgrounds, nations, and religions makes it much harder.

Also, the government divides and conquers as does the media. They instigate things deliberately to suit their purpose, preying upon regular human emotions.

6 ( +7 / -1 )

I think a lot of the trouble stems from what people think the government should be doing, and the limits or lack thereof to its power. To illustrate:

At one end of the spectrum we have those who think the state should be there to protect them from harm and the need to think critically - many of them are the product of an education system and public institutions that have been set up to produce such a demographic. So naturally they aren't keen on anyone who threatens that security blanket. They don't want debate because they don't want to face what they already know deep down: socialism is a dangerous illusion that only provides temporary security. They try to silence and deplatform people they disagree with because in most cases they cannot debate using fact and logic.

Allied with them, but supporting the Big State for different reasons, are the crony capitalists/corporate socialists who rely on the government for big contracts and don't care which party occupies the seats of power, as long as they're getting what they want: juicy contracts and regulation that inhibits true competition. So they're happy to throw their support in whatever way they see as effective to get their needs met. Ideology doesn't matter as much as protecting interests. Yet sometimes we see ideology, er, trumping interest, with plenty of corporations eroding their shareholder value - essentially contravening fiduciary responsibilities - to pursue a morally bankrupt ideology. I'm looking at you, mainstream media.

This group as a whole I'd prefer to broadly call collectivists. They believe the power of the group is superior to the individual, and don't mind doing whatever they can to silence dissent. Exclusively calling them lefties is not entirely accurate, as they're are plenty of right-wing collectivists as well.

Towards the other end are their opponents the individualists and voluntarists. The ones who want as little to do with the government as possible and get on with their lives, say what they think, think critically about what they want and take responsibility for their own actions. They're happy to form groups, but only on a voluntary basis and never under threat of force. They're not always right, but they're at least willing to debate ideas regardless of how uncomfortable they might be. And they're not always easy to neatly label as left or right wing in the traditional sense. Collectivists fear them because they can't control them, so instead of fighting fair in open and honest debate, the collectivists try to silence and smear them, with truth and liberty the ultimate losers.

It's not the only root cause, but I think a person's fundamental attitude toward the power of the government has a lot to do with this polarization.

0 ( +5 / -5 )

Trump is one of the main reasons America is so divided. He started and promoted birtherism for years. He began his campaign by insulting Mexicans. He insults veterans, women, and anyone who disagrees with him. He calls any negative news about him fake and insults the integrity of legitimate journalism. He lies constantly and recently called democrats "dangerous" for opposing Kavanaugh. He praises dictators and insults allies. He has brainwashed a whole slew of Americans who love the rallying call of his simple-minded hate and fear mongering. He has destroyed decency and countless established norms. He insults the constitution by asking for ridiculous policies (such as stop and frisk recently). He called global warming a hoax created by the Chinese. Trump and his regurgitating followers are to blame.

2 ( +7 / -5 )

@Coconut H2O

OK, we get it. You don't like Trump. But do you honestly think he's entirely to blame for the deep divisions? He might be exacerbating them, partly to goad people who already hate him anyway. But I'd argue he's far more a symptom of the the division than a cause of it. The problem has been going for a lot longer than he's been campaigning or in the White House. The whole political establishment is a complete mess, and about half the public who decided to vote in the last election wanted a change, any change, from the status quo that Clinton represented. And Trump was the only visible candidate on the other side that offered it. Now you can argue his merits or otherwise forever and a day, but ultimately he was responding to the desire for something - anything - different, and he got the job.

People who wanted more of the same lost, so they have to suck it up. I doubt there'd be much sympathy among collectivists for Trump supporters if he'd lost, so take the loss with good grace and at least try and fight fair the next time around.

-3 ( +2 / -5 )

Lol H20 You are the definition of the problem and you don’t even know it.

-3 ( +4 / -7 )

I'm not sure the polarization is greater (or less) than many other modern democracies, but it's difficult to prove either way.

Some aspects concerning US though are -

it has the largest population by far of all democracies, hence simply the voice is louder.

it has an extensive multi-media, electronic and otherwise, built up over decades and decades, so people have a vehicle otherwise denied to many others.

it has a history of "free speech" used to voice opinions, often loudly. Debate is normal.

political commentary has been established "entertainment" for ages, whether it be stand-up comics, satire, late shows, magazines, papers, music / rockbands etc etc.

it has deeply divided historical identities and classes that still exist and drive debate - witness south vs north.

it has a very large, strong, vocal religious sector - well over 60% of population - who believe they are the only true way, so consequently moral, ethical and lifestyle values have deep opposing points.

it is a melange of ethnicities, not always, but often offering very differing opinions.

it has historically been a society of haves & have nots, but in recent years this divide appears to be amplified, so voices cry louder.

And any number of other reasons.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

OK, we get it. You don't like Trump. But do you honestly think he's entirely to blame for the deep divisions?

No, that's why I said "one of the main reasons..." Another reason is reading comprehension lol. Certainly there were divisions before, but Trump took it up to eleven. Common decency, coherent ideas and arguments, and the TRUTH went out the window with him.

3 ( +5 / -2 )

No, that's why I said "one of the main reasons...

But then you launched into a rant, instead of taking a step back and considering why Trump is even in the White House at all. There's a dearth of common decency in politics everywhere, but in the US it's taken on hellish proportions because one side in particular can't accept that it lost. Problem is, broadly speaking they lack the perspective to reflect on their own behaviour and clean up their act.

It's also why I distinguished between collectivists and individualists; Trump couldn't really be called a small-government type. He's not really that interested in winding back the power of the state or the influence of powerful lobbyists - as long as they're the ones he likes. So in some respects he's not all that far from the collectivists, but he's just not their kind of big-government guy so they hate him and will stop at nothing to destroy him. Do you honestly think the Democrats under Hillary Clinton would have been better for the country? We'll never know, of course. They might have been more clam on the exterior, but I'm certain they would have continued to undermine the economy and constitution with their own brand of corporate socialism, vote-buying and identity politics.

-2 ( +2 / -4 )

Yeah, what I wrote wasn't a rant. It was but a tiny fraction of the epic failure of Trump.

Another issue is the tendency for the Right (like yourself) to project the very things you've been guilty of and then blame the Democrats for. Saying that the left can't get over that we lost the election, for instance. The Right sure does have short-term memories.

And yes, I honestly think that Hillary would have been better than Trump. Instead of the worst president in history, she would have been a decent (in both senses of the word) president.

3 ( +6 / -3 )

Do you honestly believe Hillary Clinton is a decent and honest person? Given the scandals over the Clinton Foundation, her coverups regarding Bill's sexual assaults, the Libya fiasco, her phoney story about landing in sniper fire in Bosnia, her phoney pandering to women voters (pretends to support them while actively disparaging Bill's victims), inability to explain her private email server. And she was one of the first to start the birther thing about Obama because she wanted the 2008 nomination. Some in the Right picked up on it, but they didn't start it. That's just a few things I can come up with off the top of my head. She's thoroughly deceptive but can fool a good percentage of the population.

Trump is chaotic for sure, but he's something of a circuit breaker that the country needs to start halting the decline. with Clinton you'd get more of the same. Trump is merely helping to expose government for the swamp it is, intentionally otherwise.

And to answer your point, some on the Right do have short memories. I'm not American, but I never supported Bush etc. I would've been a Ron Paul supporter, but he was too decent a man to get too far in Washington. Anti-war, pro free speech and free market. And promoted solutions instead of just hating everyone who disagrees with him. He would've been a million times better than Trump, but it wasn't to be.

-3 ( +4 / -7 )

I think the above demonstrates the question.

The cause? Not at all sure, certainly deeper rooted than Trump/Clinton, though I think social media has exacerbated the bitterness.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

Lol look at the above!

You guys bickering is literally the definition of it all. He says its all trumps fault (apparantly things were perfect last year and its since the election that we can’t get along. )

0 ( +2 / -2 )

it has the largest population by far of all democracies, hence simply the voice is louder.

India is BY FAR the largest population if all democracies.

it has deeply divided historical identities and classes that still exist and drive debate - witness south vs north.

The "south" doesn't exist like you claim. There is a small, vocal, minority who think their family history in the War of Northern Aggression deserves to be remembered as heroes. That is a tiny minority, who is loud.

These days politics is divided between highly urban and suburban/rural living and economic situation.

Whenever people live close together, personal freedoms have to be tempered with what lets the most neighbors get along. You also get to constantly see people struggling to pay for things.

If you live in an apartment, being noisy becomes a problem for everyone around you.

As people live with more room, personal freedoms are relaxed since what 1 family does isn't important to others.

People in cities are used to govt services. They use those services all the time. People outside cities see the govt as meddling, since almost everything the govt does isn't helpful to them at all. The govt meddles.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

In my opinion, there are two major factors. One is Newt Gingrich, who basically declared war on the left using non-stop inflammatory language. His opponents were not merely wrong, they were "traitors" or "corrupt" or "thugs" or "sick". After the big wins for reactionary House Republicans in 1994, under the leadership of Gingrich, it was clear to Republicans that this was the way to go.


The second factor was the rise of right-wing talk radio and Fox News, which set up a 24-hour ecosystem of rancor and bile. In this environment, where the loudest voices get the most attention, it was inevitable that the most partisan would people the most popular (and the most profitable). The rise of the internet and social media made it even easier to stay in a completely right-wing alternative universe. If this is where you get your information, any kind of compromise becomes impossible.

5 ( +7 / -2 )

It is not just the US, but all western countries which have been infected by the virus of social marxism.

Countries which are ethnically and culturally homogeneous, and which don't suffer from rabid feminism, are the most united, content and peaceful.

-4 ( +3 / -7 )

Countries which are ethnically and culturally homogeneous, and which don't suffer from rabid feminism, are the most united, content and peaceful.

This is some white-hood level thinking right here. America is great BECAUSE of its diversity, not in spite of it.

2 ( +5 / -3 )

It is not just the US, but all western countries which have been infected by the virus of social marxism. 

Countries which are ethnically and culturally homogeneous, and which don't suffer from rabid feminism, are the most united, content and peaceful.


These aren't comfortable ideas, but that doesn't mean they're wrong. Diversity can only work when there's an underlying respect for the host culture, wherever that might be. That seems to have evaporated in the West - now it's all about how oppressed one is, and it's the fault of Whitey. Especially white males, supposedly. Unfortunately, "diversity" in the current lexicon doesn't include diversity of thought (some irony in such non-inclusivity), and I place the blame for that squarely on the cultural Marxists as well. It's classic collectivist strategy: erase individuality and put everyone in a group. All Blacks, Hispanics etc must vote Democrat or they're race traitors. All women are victims. All men are potential r*pists. All whites are privileged. Racism is the worst crime imaginable. It's poisonous thinking, and it's tearing the US and other Western nations apart. And when people try to speak out against the madness, they're shouted down, falsely labelled, doxed, deplatformed and more. That's the collectivists, not the individualists doing that.

They've worked tirelessly to undermine the values that made the West the best civilization in history. But if it's so terrible, racist, sexist etc, why do so many from other places do whatever it takes to get in? (nowadays much for the free stuff, but that wasn't true so long ago).

-5 ( +1 / -6 )

thefu - thanks for your answer.

yes you're correct - India is the biggest democracy. I should have said "modern" democracy (developed) like I wrote in the first sentence.

And I never meant anything special re nth vs sth. I know it's not 1850. I could have mentioned another example. But your more detailed response covered it well - a loud minority. A gift to polarization if there ever was.

And I agree with your other sentiments - as I wrote - "And any number of other reasons".

If I was asked to choose just 1 reason (impossible) - I'd suggest that polarization is fuelled by the availability of a voice compared to the past. Everyone now can be heard -  from hi-lifes to lo-lifes. This constant electronic barrage 24/7 stirs the pot more than ever, and often ire and incredulity exponentially rise, even over minor things. As an observer, it's quite alarming watching the cannabalistic self destruction of decency.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

The whole stupid thing was started up when right-wing fearmongers like Rubbish Limberger began spewing hatred of 'liberalism', and 'feminazis' and other ill-defined ghosts and goblins. This began when practically the whole AM dial stopped playing music and became a bastion for hate radio.

They've made some outrageous and extreme claims against anyone including even some more moderate people in the GOP. For instance when some of these whackjobs praised the OKC terror bombings (as well as Wayne LaPierre of the NRA) that caused a political rupture. George Bush 41 quit his NRA membership over that, and the GOP descended further into extremism.

There's been some left-wing 'indie' radio stations as well. They don't preach hate or violence but they advocate conformity to their POV and act like juveniles and make stupid jokes about anything that isn't like them. The knife cuts both ways with the so-called 'conservative' extremists and then there's the 'new age' flakes and such on the left extreme.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

Answer to first question:  Trump

Answer to second question:  See above


2 ( +4 / -2 )

Seems that everyone blaming Trump has completely ignored or is ignorant of the reasons why he's there in the first place. The lack of insight is perplexing, but not all that surprising. And that willful ignorance is only helping to deepen the divide, not heal the rift. Perhaps if the haters proposed some decent, workable solutions that help to preserve constitutional rights (& responsibilities), minimize government interference in people's lives, minimize welfare dependency, stop illegal immigration and abandon the utter stupidity of identity politics, they might get more people on board who just want to get on with their lives. If you really hate Trump that much, just do it better. Is that too much to ask? But it seems you just want more of what you would've got if Clinton had been elected.

By the way, I'm not a Trump apologist, just pointing out what to me is the bleeding obvious.

-2 ( +2 / -4 )

The root cause of this bitter division is the Democrats and their partners, the media, acting in the despicable way they do.

-5 ( +2 / -7 )

Cable news. (ie: news as entertainment, that has to do anything and everything to get and keep people watching).

1 ( +3 / -2 )

Corporate Personhood.

Today, we are witnessing the bitter consequences of the hockey stick in concentrated wealth, along with the binding concentration of interests in corporations, banking, lobbying, media, and politics. The Dem / Rep show is just a game to keep the citizens from looking into the Deep cellar, where the real power is. There have been enough successful Independent political movements, both on the right(Perot) and left(Nader) to prove that they have very little chance when competing politically or in the media, it’s anstacked deck. Take the recent courruption by the DNC and the Hillary campaign towards Bernie Sanders.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

I like to see the timeline:

I remember the Vietnam War and Watergate. It was interesting as the War was polarizing and Watergate actually brought the country together more than divided it. Moving forward into the 70's complacency seemed to rule. I remember when the U.S. beat the U.S.S.R. in the 80 Olympics and that (couple with what happened in Tehran) really seemed to bring the U.S. back together. Later in the 80's the division started again under Reagan (although Reagan himself was not all that polarizing). The Space Shuttle Columbia and the fall of the U.S.S.R. prevented further division and the U.S. seemed to come together again. In the 90's Clinton took office (who I actually believe was our last good President) and although he worked well with the opposition Congress (they actually accomplished alot together) things started to fall apart. Matt Drudge used the evolving internet to bring into the light the Lewinski deal......Then came Sept. 11, 2001. It appeared the U.S. would re-unite (and did for a while). The Iraq War followed (a completely illogical folly) and the hyper division started there I believe. President Obama came in and I though he would bring Americans together. Unfortunately under President Obama the division grew rapidly; I thought racial tensions would improve but some of the statements Obama made along with the Attorney General Eric Holder actually did more to divide the races then hold them together. That coupled with the evolving internet made things really nasty. Finally Trump's campaign (even when dealing with issues that are real problems which need to be solved) became vitriolic and some of the things he said were out of line. And here we are now; a 24 hour news cycle, the internet (good and bad), and a country that is on its knees and nearly broken in 1/2 in such a way that it seems near irreparable. This benefits those in power and hurts the people. The division we see today had the seeds set in the 60's or 70's but I believe finally started to grow exponentially around 2 decades ago.

The media certainly does alot to add fuel to the fire. I am a strong opponent of Trump, but even some of the things I see in the media boggle my mind. I was shocked to see CNN calling Kanye West a "token negro" (their words) for his support of Trump. I totally disagree with Kanye West but taking the argument to that level?


It is mind boggling how far the media has slipped as well (and I am not only talking about the so-called "mainstream media")

There are conspiracy theories which indicate this is a concerted effort to intentionally divide the U.S. by the powerful. I have read about Bilderberg (who at first denied they exist and now say the powerful meet once a year for the "good of mankind"). What they are doing? Who knows? But there are times it is not beyond belief that there is a movement to weaken the U.S.

Barring some type of event of historical proportions I see little hope for the situation to improve. It will get much worse before it gets better (if it does at all).

2 ( +3 / -1 )

The main thing I would like to say is that this is a valid question. U.S. society is very polarized over politics. It mostly seems to revolve around vacuous partisan labels like "conservative" and "liberal". To ignore another another person's opinion on an issue that can be on any spectrum, all you have to do is call them the right label.

A "conservative" country would not attack Iraq or bail out speculators. A "liberal" one would not allow the life expectancy of white men to fall or let its police shoot and kill black men.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Kohaku - The United States was found as a liberal Constitutional Republic leaning towards what Libertarians would believe today. The founders of the U.S. (as imperfect as they were) produced quite an amazing document (i.e. the Constitution and the Bill of Rights). The writings in the Federalist papers are quite fascinating.

Unfortunately, as you say the country is polarized with these labels that probably bear little resemblance to the true meaning or the original meaning.

Attacking Iraq was not at all a "conservative" thing. Especially since Saddam Hussein and Bin Laden despised each other.

Regarding the abuse of power. The police actually shoot and kill numerous white men as well. This does not make the news but it is still abuse of power. If one breaks this down statistically and takes into consideration crime rates, etc. then the proportion is near the same with some pretty terrible abuses of both sides.

If the people remain so divided it remains easy for governments to do as they wish. I believe this division helps those in power tremendously and only hurts the average citizens.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Americans are too individualistic, and place self over society. "I don't want to pay taxes" rather than "I want my tax money to be used efficiently". "I have the right to own guns" over "society would be much better if we worked to eradicate guns", "I shouldn't have to pay for poor people's welfare" over "government should help the poor out of poverty, so we can all live in a nicer country, etc.

As long as you have one side who is unreasonable in their demands that their individual rights always trump those of society, the situation will get more and more polarized.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

@Strangerland - As an American my thoughts are if you plotted a Bell curve and did a proper statistical analysis 70-80% of the population would fall into these categories.

Taxes - the biggest beef I see is how the tax money is used. Politicians with lavish benefits and lifestyles, government waste, neglecting inner cities while spending on those entering the country illegally (I am a liberal and I have a problem with that)

Guns - Total eradication will never happen (too many illegal guns in circulation). A minority of people in the U.S. believe they should have access to AR15 or other semi-automatic weapons. Most Americans have a balanced pragmatic view of this

Helping the Poor - San Francisco (my home area) has a tremendous problem with this. The reason this problem exists is not because people pay too little taxes (Californians and San Franciscans are taxed to the extreme). Plenty of money is spent on this problem (including monthly stipends for homeless). Again this is an issue of waste and misuse of funds in my opinion. "one side" demanding individual rights - I agree the U.S. goes to the extreme on this however, as a liberal I am quite happy that I do have certain rights guaranteed by the Constitution and Bill of Rights. I believe this is shared by both "sides"
3 ( +3 / -0 )

Many are terrified of the swamp getting drained.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

This thread has lots of thoughtful responses with interesting ideas.

Nicely done people.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Internet / social has caused us to live in our own little bubble, conditioned to crave that endless positive feedback from those alike, and ridicule those who are not alike. Rather than understand them.

I also question whither religion has overall had a good or bad impact on this situation as a whole. Its taboo to talk about it in most situations, not exactly the path to understanding each other. Sets clear boundaries for whats right or wrong, based on heredity rather than analysis of the current situation.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Inequality. The gap between rich and the poor. Law applied unequally. Corruption. Lies in Politics.

The richest country in the world with the biggest debt and tens of millions living in poverty.

America needs a reset. The rest of the world could use one also.

Simply, Technology is killing jobs so a new financial system is needed to cope with some who will never ever be able to get employment for their entire lives, and for those working but living under the poverty line. Without such a broad change there will be a crash that will greatly reduce the worlds human population and it will be a hard reset rather than a smart, soft reset.

Prophetic words.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

I would put this down to the 2008 Great Financial Crisis and globalism more generally.

The GFC weakened economies and globalism has threatened the economic certainties that a large number of skilled blue collar workers and lower grade white collar workers took for granted.

The response has been the rise of populist policies in a number of countries. The rise of the far right in Europe, for example, and to a lesser extent the socialist left (and by this I mean real socialists, not politicians who have good intentions about welfare).

In the USA you have Trump. I think Trump is an exaggerated version of what you get elsewhere, partly due to it being more inward looking country and with its generally lower levels of education than you get in other developed countries. There are a lot of ill educated people who feel threatened - the perfect breeding ground for a populist who has simple answers to complex problems.

The problem is for all populists, the simple answers never solve the complex problems, even if there are initial signs of success. In the long-run, those who wanted to gain lose even more.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

The 'talking heads' on all new channels are always trying to find anything - anything to get your attention. The OJ Simpson trial was a disgusting example, and the Clinton impeachment racket brought out the ugliness underneath and the devil inside Americans but the constant orchestrated 1991 Gulf War ('America at War' - on ALL channels, 24-7!) set a major precedent. People standing in front of a screen, fixated with stares, emotionally manipulated. I couldn't stand it then and I can't stand it now.

Now even local news covers crap like when Britney Spears shaved her head, and even the major networks like CNN have their anchors act like the sensationalists they are. Did you see how Nancy Allen acted so gushingly when she interviewed Paul McCartney? Not very professional at all, and you could tell he wasn't comfortable or amused himself.

News coverage in America is a JOKE.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

with its generally lower levels of education than you get in other developed countries.


First Strangerlands unthumbable rant (never lets an opportunity pass to disparage anyone that disagrees with his “global vision”).

And then we get this above comment.

Other developed nations??

Like Germany?

But, they have a population of 82+ million while the US has 327+ million. Kind of a little difference wouldn’t you say?

France...67 mill

UK...66 mill

and then, the population numbers in these “other developed nations” drop faster than an imploding building.

Netherlands...17+ mill

Austria...8+ mill

Norway...5+ mill

Now, please help me understand why any of these “developed nations” should be compared to the US, a true multicultural society, not the phony, or guilty, or the top down multicultural programming of Europe.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

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