Who is responsible for political polarization in America?


Category:  News & Politics

Via:  s  •  one month ago  •  11 comments

Who is responsible for political polarization in America?

S E E D E D   C O N T E N T

Jason Willick, that rare conservative Washington Post columnist who consistently delivers pro-conservative commentary, demonstrates that it’s Democrats, not Republicans, who are driving political polarization in America. Well-informed conservatives know this to be true. However, it will come as a shock to the Post’s readers, though most of them will ignore or blow off Willick’s argument.

The title of Willick’s piece — “On immigration, Democrats are the ones driving polarization” — suggests that his analysis is confined to that one set of issues. It is not. (The title was probably selected by a Post employee). Willick’s argument focuses on immigration, but it extends to same-sex marriage, guns, religion and taxes, and could have extended further than that.

As to immigration, Willick writes:

Immigration has been perhaps the most polarizing issue of the past decade: It was the subject of Obama’s most boundary-pushing  uses of executive authority  and the key issue in Donald Trump’s outsider bid for the Republican nomination in 2016. Now  border security is roiling Congress  and could prove decisive in the  2024 election .
Partisan opinions on immigration have indeed polarized, as these events suggest. But it’s  Democratic  opinion that has driven the partisan divorce, as Trent Ollerenshaw of Duke University and Ashley Jardina of the University of Virginia show in their paper, “ The Asymmetric Polarization of Immigration Opinion in the United States .” They write: “Among Republicans, opinion on immigration has remained mostly stable” since the 1990s. Meanwhile, “the marked liberalization in immigration opinion among Democrats has left partisans more divided on immigration than at any point since national surveys began consistently measuring.”

For example:

Americans’ average feelings toward immigrants who are in the country illegally “have grown warmer” since 1988 — from 37 out of 100 in 1988 to 42 in 2004 to 49 in 2020. But “these warming trends emerged only among Democrats,” the authors note, so that “the partisan divide in evaluations expanded from 8 points in 1988 to 28 points in 2020.”
The divergence is even starker on the question of whether immigrants take Americans’ jobs. In 2004, just 14 percent of Republicans  and  Democrats said immigrants were “not at all likely” to take Americans’ jobs. In 2020, the figure among Republicans was roughly the same — 16 percent — while for Democrats it soared to 53 percent.

The same pattern exists on the question of immigration levels and the proper legal status of illegal immigrants:

In 1994, just 5 percent of Democrats and Republicans on both sides wanted immigration levels to increase. They drifted apart gradually in the 2000s and suddenly in the 2010s. In 2022, 41 percent of Democrats, compared with 10 percent of Republicans, supported higher immigration levels. (These figures, which Ollerenshaw sent me, come from General Social Survey data released after the article was written.)
On the question of legal status for people in the United States illegally, Republican opinion has liberalized significantly, albeit not as fast as Democratic opinion. Only 20 percent of Republicans supported “amnesty programs for law-abiding illegal immigrants” in 2010, the second year of the Obama administration, compared with 44 percent in 2022, the second year of the Biden administration. For Democrats, the percentage increased from 58 percent to 88 percent over the same period.

As to issues other polarizing issues, Willick writes:

Journalist Kevin Drum has documented  how opinion trends on  abortion , same-sex marriage, guns, religion and taxes also don’t match the narrative of Republican radicalization as the driving force in the culture wars. And  a 2019 New York Times analysis  of party platforms showed that in both 2012 and 2016, the Democratic platform moved sharply to the left. The Republican platform, by contrast, moved modestly to the right in 2012, and modestly toward the center in 2016. [Note: The year Donald Trump was the GOP nominee for the first time.]

Drum is a liberal Democrat. But he’s honest enough to call his article, “If you hate the culture wars, blame liberals.   It comes complete with charts and statistics that document his point.

Drum concludes:

Now: maybe you're personally delighted by the Democratic Party's leftward march and maybe you're not. It doesn't matter. Despite endless hopeful invocations of "but polls show that people like our positions," the truth is that the Democratic Party has been pulled far enough left that even lots of non-crazy people find us just plain scary—something that Fox News takes vigorous advantage of.
From an electoral point of view, the story here is consistent: Democrats have stoked the culture wars by getting more extreme on social issues and Republicans have used this to successfully cleave away a segment of both the non-college white vote and, more recently, the non-college nonwhite vote.

But Democrats aren’t as clueless as this passage implies. They are using the Republican blowback against leftist aggression in the culture wars to their advantage. The harshness of that blowback enables Dems, with the vigorous assistance of the mainstream media, to paint Republicans as the culture war aggressors and to gain support in suburbia.

This statement near the end of Willick’s piece captures the present state of affairs:

Partisan sorting and ideological changes among America’s elite have thrust the Democratic Party leftward, and the Republican Party has embraced more extreme tactics in response.

In my view, the Republican Party has no real choice but to respond powerfully to the Democrats’ extreme positions. But it should find champions who are better able than Donald Trump and certain members of his MAGA amen chorus to present a more human face and a more focused and effective approach to the conservative counter-offensive.


jrDiscussion - desc
Sean Treacy
Professor Expert
1  seeder  Sean Treacy    one month ago

One of the mindless talking points that pollutes discourse on the internet is the claim that the Republican Party have become extremist and radical causing a rift in our culture. The true kool-aid drinkers will repetitively regurgitate that Republicans  became "fascist (clearly without understanding the meaning of the word) to justify their shrillness.  To anyone with a basic knowledge of  our country's recent history, the claim is on its face insane.  Adults who can remember Bill Clinton's Presidency should be considered candidates for institutionalization if they think Republicans views on issues are the ones that have radically changed since then. 

Willick has done a good job here of collecting the objective data to support one of the more obvious possible truths, the Democrats have moved far to the left on almost every issue over the last few decades, becoming the party of extremist positions. 

Vic Eldred
Professor Principal
1.1  Vic Eldred  replied to  Sean Treacy @1    one month ago

That is what is known as an understatement. With the election of Joe Biden as president came the most extreme far left government anyone could imagine. Not only was the radical left in control of the government and the democrat party, but it is as if they came out of the closet on how they really feel about everything.

Example # 1: Right here we saw people go from denying that the southern border was open to defending the idea. We can remember when even Barak Obama advocated for a secure border. 

Professor Principal
2  JohnRussell    one month ago

The thinly disguised premise of this article is that conservative positions on issues are the default, and progressive or liberal positions on issues are extreme.  How convenient for the conservatives. 

I imagine that, actually I know that, at one point most Americans were in the consensus that women shouldn't be allowed to vote and that racial minorities should know their place. But time marches on and the consensus changes. Some changes are good for the society, and maybe some are not as good. Thats life. 

Sean Treacy
Professor Expert
2.1  seeder  Sean Treacy  replied to  JohnRussell @2    one month ago

Not at all John. It has nothing really to do with the american people's " consensus" It's simply a way to objectively compare how the parties' views have changed.  Despite the current President's attempts to divide the country and stoke fear about the Republicans supposed "radicalization", the article provides objective data that the opposite is true, the Democrats have radicalized while Republican views have remained relatively static.  I suppose the only odd thing is that this had to be spelled out and proven, as anyone who's been paying attention already knows it, despite the gaslighting attempts of the President and his followers. 

Professor Guide
3  Tacos!    one month ago

The argument here seems to rely on the assumption that holding an opposing, evolving, or relatively more extreme position on the issues is a valid measure of partisanship. I don't think that assumption is justified. It's just as easy to say that if Republican positions haven't changed, then they are growing ever more stubborn and regressive, while the rest of humanity marches boldly into a more civilized future.

I think a better measure of partisanship is when people say they hold a certain position, but then suddenly change it because it is advantageous for their party to do so. Furthermore, I would say people in both parties are guilty of this. 

As referenced above, Democrats used to be more hawkish on illegal immigration than they are now, and I do think this evolved rapidly as a politically partisan change. For the Republicans, look at how they suddenly became much more pro-Russia in the last few years. There are several examples we could at, but this will do for now.

Buzz of the Orient
Professor Expert
4  Buzz of the Orient    one month ago

An NT member suggested a little while ago that the Statue of Liberty should be turned around to face into the USA.   

charger 383
Professor Silent
4.1  charger 383  replied to  Buzz of the Orient @4    one month ago

Turn her around and let her face the American people. 

Buzz of the Orient
Professor Expert
4.1.1  Buzz of the Orient  replied to  charger 383 @4.1    one month ago

You were the one I meant, but I wasn't going to name you.

Professor Principal
4.1.2  Tessylo  replied to  charger 383 @4.1    one month ago


Thrawn 31
Professor Guide
5  Thrawn 31    one month ago

Who Is Responsible For Political Polarization In America?

All of us. 
Professor Quiet
5.1  Freefaller  replied to  Thrawn 31 @5    one month ago



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