The 2012 election and its aftermath show how sharply – and bitterly – divided we are in America.
Elections are no longer choices between candidates or debates about issues. They are holy wars between Red and Blue America.
Ferrel Guillory at the UNC School of Journalism recommended an excellent book about this split: The Big Sort by Bill Bishop, who once worked at MDC here and now lives in Austin, Texas.
Bishop says we are choosing to live near, associate with and identify with people who share our political, religious and social values. This leads to red and blue states, red and blue neighborhoods, red suburbs and blue cities, red news and blue news, etc., etc. That separation in turns fosters not only a lack of understanding, but outright hostility toward people who are different.
He writes: “The lesson for politics and culture is pretty clear: It doesn’t seem to matter whether you’re a frat boy, a French high school student, a petty criminal or a federal appeals court judge: Mixed company moderates; like-minded company polarizes. Heterogeneous communities restrain group excesses; homogenous communities march toward the extremes.”
I commend the book to anyone concerned about how we became so divided and where we’re headed.