… and why the political gulf will continue to widen in the U.S.
It looks like it only took the two most hated, controversial presidential candidates in election history to truly split the country in two. How could it get any worse?
It probably comes as no surprise to hear there’s an ever-widening political gulf between the right and left. Any middle ground for compromise or agreement is shrinking with every passing day. The unprecedented dissent and social unrest is obvious.
Since the rise of Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, the formation of clear red and blue zones, each with different social, regulatory and fiscal policies has become even more distinct. And it could ultimately lead to a devastating North/South split, just like what the Nation saw before the Civil War.
Pew Research, the best general non-partisan research organization in my mind, shows the level of polarization in the U.S. today best in this chart…
As you can see, from 1994 to 2014, the divide has shifted from about 10% to 35%, favoring the Republican side a bit more.
But more importantly, among the politically engaged, the split is much wider! It’s closer to 55% apart, with the majority of both on the far left and far right!
Thirty-six percent of Republicans see the Democratic Party as a threat to the nation’s well-being. On the other side, 26% of Democrats view the Republican party as such a threat.
It’s not so much because of the extreme growth of the top 0.1% to 1% in income and wealth. That exploded in the second half of the 1990’s and first peaked in 2000.
No. This is more about the destruction of the middle class and that’s why Donald Trump garnered a larger following than Bernie Sanders, who was more about the revolt against the rich 1%. The civil unrest dividing the nation now could very well tear us apart.
But wait, there’s more…
Coming into play now, more than ever before, has been a huge decline in the trust of the mass media, especially among Republicans – from a high of 52% in 1998 down to a mere 14% in 2016! And the Democrats’ trust fell from 70% in 2005 to a current 51%.
This opens the way for a revolution in the media as well, especially on the Republican side, which could induce an even greater divide, especially as right-wing extremists become angrier and more armed.
And this is why I see Donald Trump becoming more powerful if he loses this election – by forming a new conservative media channel with his two partners, Roger Ailes (from Fox) and Stephen Bannon (from Breitbart News). Both have helped build the Trump campaign into the phenomenon it’s become.
The implications of what could play out are serious. We’ve already witnessed a candidate who’s made attempts to delegitimize the election, democracy and the current state of American media. And if this eccentric stance gains the backing of a new regime in conservative media, it could sincerely jeopardize the stability of the country’s political system.
But beyond the November elections, it’s widely feared that Trump’s current and future efforts to diminish the confidence in mainstream media, democracy, elections and politics as a whole, will have a lasting impact. Many also worry that this newly consummated, super-conservative Trump-Breitbart partnership will prevail and that both men will be eager to exact revenge, further fueling the angry, radical voters.
Donald Trump has made it perfectly clear that he will not go down quietly… even if he loses in November.
So, if you thought we were a nation at odds now, just wait to see what happens next. This political gap is on a track to get much, much wider.