Political and Social Divisions Widening in United States
Americans are witnessing widening social, cultural, and economic divisions—a trend that is creating a more politically divided America.
A recent survey of social trends jointly carried out by The Wall Street Journal and NBC News finds growing polarization among Americans. These divisions in social and cultural values, as well as in economic status, are helping explain why a political rift is visibly growing in the United States.
Americans who identify themselves as Democrats were found to have different religious, economic, and social beliefs from their Republican counterparts. For instance, the survey found that Democrats are more likely than Republicans to say they never go to church. At the same time, Democrats are found to be more open than Republicans to societal changes.
On the flip side, a greater number of Republicans than Democrats are found to support the National Rifle Association (NRA) and oppose action against climate change.
Divisions are also obvious on the basis of education. The survey found that Americans living in rural areas without a four-year college degree are more conservative in their views, and a growing number of them identify themselves as supporters of the Republican Party.
An interesting factor covered in the survey is the approval rating of a president by supporters of the opposing party, which may be an accurate measure of the political polarization among Americans. The study found that the opposing party’s support for a president in office has generally trended lower over the years, indicating that the political divide between Democrats and Republicans has widened over this period.
For instance, during Republican Dwight D. Eisenhower’s presidency in the 1950s, 60% of Democrats supported him after his first eight months in office. In contrast, during Democrat President Barack Obama’s first eight months in office, only 16% of Republicans approved of his job.
President Donald Trump’s approval rating from the opposing party is the lowest recorded, with only eight percent of Democrats approving of his job performance after eight months of his presidency. It is evident that Americans are increasingly more divided in their political views today than they were, say, 60 years ago.
One thing that most Americans agree on is that polarization is growing in the country. About 80% of the respondents in the survey agreed that America is mainly or totally divided today. This is concerning for a country that is recording an increasing number of cases of intolerant behavior each passing day.
“Political Divisions in U.S. Are Widening, Long-Lasting, Poll Shows,” The Wall Street Journal, September 6, 2017.