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Who is responsible for political polarization in America?


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Ringside at the Reckoning

We know the answer. Maybe a few Washington Post readers will now learn it.
Paul Mirengoff
Jan 19, 2024

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.”

(Snip)

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:

(Snip)

 

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