Why is the United States becoming more partisan? | Al Jazeera America

30
Jun

Why is the United States becoming more partisan? | Al Jazeera America

Inside Story: A third of Republicans see the Democratic Party as a threat to the nation’s well-being, and 27 percent of Democrats feel that way about Republicans. Aren’t these stark numbers?

Alan Abramowitz: The more ideologically consistent the voters are, the more they tend to dislike the other party. The Republicans tend to feel more antagonistic and strongly that Democrats are ruining the country. That may reflect the fact that there is a Democratic president, and that Democrats are more willing to compromise to achieve policy victories.

There is a parallel debate among academics about asymmetric polarization. That debate focuses on whether both sides are polarized, or Republicans have become more conservative. At the congressional level, there is no question that Republicans, particularly in the House, are more conservative than they were 30 years ago. Democrats are also more liberal, but that is mostly due to the loss of the conservative Southern wing.

Why did this all happen?

My view is that it reflects a combination of changes in American society that go back to the 1960s, and the response of political leaders to those changes as they have tried to construct responses to cater to their electoral coalitions. One key to this is the growing racial and ethnic diversity of the population. As that has happened, especially since the 1980s and 1990s, we have seen it have a very different impact on both parties. Democrats increasingly rely on the votes of racial minorities, and Republicans have become whiter. Racially conservative Democrats, in the South especially, but everywhere, have become Republican. In addition, the increasing secularization of America has provoked a backlash by socially conservative elements of society.

via Why is the United States becoming more partisan? | Al Jazeera America.

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