Polarization in Us Politics Essay

Words: 1683
Pages: 7

Analyze the evidence that American politics is becoming more polarized.
If so, is this a reaction to the polarization of political elites?

Approx 1500 words

"The election of 2008... marked the end of an epoch. No longer could Republicans count on the basic conservatism of the American people, the reflexive hostility to candidates who favour big government"
(Darman, 2010, 34)

In the 1970s and 1980s there was a consensus that the importance of political parties was in decline, that the shared conservative ideology of the American electorate was reflected in the similar ideology and policy of the Democratic and Republican party. Now, however, the parties are seemingly taking on renewed importance as the population of
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For instance the assumed intrinsic connections common to the "value voters" are not as strong as they may seem. For instance Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry managed to pull one third of white evangelicals, and one third of gun owners (Fiorina and Abrams, 2008, 568). These are two criterion of the stereotypical conservative Bible-Belt citizen, and the media would have us believe that almost every single one would have supported the incumbent George W. Bush. This exaggeration is typical of the American media's attempt to depict American politics as more polarized than it is. Haley Barbour, governor of Mississippi and former chairman of the republican party here how he takes political news (in this case the pessimism about the future of the Republican party after the election of Barack Obama in 2008) with a pinch of salt;

"In politics, things are never as good as they seem (in the media) and they're never as bad as they seem" (Darman, 2010)

If there is such polarization in the USA, such defined political cleavages, why then is every election so tightly contested, which Barone calls "The 49 Percent Nation" (Kaus, 2004)? Surely if the nation was split along regional, urban/ rural, religious or ideological divides, then surely one group would be able to dominate the other, at least periodically, and one party would enjoy longer periods in office. In the past two decades no