How the US Political Divide is Hurting Us



“Let us not seek the Republican answer or the Democratic answer, but the right answer. Let us not seek to fix the blame for the past. Let us accept our own responsibility for the future,” remarks future president John F. Kennedy during a speech in Baltimore, Maryland in 1958.

Wise words from one of America’s most remembered presidents seem to have almost been completely forgotten just decades later. Arguments and different views on political issues between Republican and Democratic voters has increased, according to Pew Research Center. “The divisions between Republicans and Democrats on fundamental political values—on government, race, immigration, national security, environmental protection, and other areas—reached record levels during Barack Obama’s presidency,” Pew’s report states. “In Donald Trump’s first year as president, these gaps have grown even larger.” In fact, eighty one percent of each party (Republican and Democrat) state that they have a negative view of the other political party.

The political division within America reaches farther than just the political realm in Washington. According to Pew, Republicans would rather live in rural areas, while Democrats would rather live in urban areas. “Sixty five percent of Republicans say they would rather live in communities where houses are larger and farther apart.” Republicans also stated that they prefer “schools, stores, and restaurants that are several miles away.”

On the other hand, Democrats said that they prefer to live “in homes that are smaller and more densely packed into neighborhoods, and stores, schools, and restaurants that are in walking distance. These living preferences lined up directly with the results of the 2016 presidential election.

According to Jocelyn Kiley, an associate director of research at Pew, “…it shows that even things that are ostensibly not about politics are still subject to political divides. That reflects a lot about the state of the American political landscape right now.” According to exit polls from the past presidential election, fifty nine percent of voters who lived in a city with a population greater than 50,000 people voted for Hillary Clinton.

On the other hand, sixty two percent of voters who lived in a small city or rural area voted for Donald Trump. Due to this fact, Republican social circles and Democratic social circles do not often mingle. In fact, sixty seven percent of Democrats say that most of their close friends are Democrats and fifty seven percent of Republicans say that they are only close friends with other Republicans.

The more that American citizen’s social lives and social identities become connected with their political beliefs, the more people will feel pressured to adopt political viewpoints rather than go against the viewpoints of those that surround them. Although the political divide seems to be steepening with time, the idea of political unity is not entirely lost. If we as Americans choose to look at politics with an open mind and choose to view political parties with respect and understanding, not only will our politics become more unified, but America as a whole will become more united.

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