Reasons for Concern

The division between Democrats and Republicans is growing and has reached a point considered comparable to the discord that preceded the Civil War.

It seems almost pointless to say that the United States is deeply divided by what looks increasingly like serious political polarization.

Divisions between Democrats and Republicans, or the left and right to use traditional terms, are growing and reaching levels that some consider comparable to those that preceded the Civil War of 1861-1865. According to polls, they are at least partially correct.

A national poll by the Center for Politics at the University of Virginia found that American voters distrust their political opponents and would be willing to explore alternatives to democracy and that even some Democrats and Republicans find violence to prevent the opposing party from achieving its goals “acceptable.”

At the same time, a Brookings Institution study warned that, according to a growing body of opinion, “the health of U.S. democracy has declined in recent years” and the country is experiencing “two major forms of democratic erosion in its governing institutions: electoral manipulation and executive overreach.”*

Worse, according to a review of the Center for Politics’ own survey, “A majority of voters that support President [Joe] Biden or former President [Donald] Trump believe that electing officials from the opposing party in 2024 would create lasting harm in the United States.”*

Fifty-two percent of Democrats believe Republican supporters are a threat to American life, and 47% of Republicans say the same about the Democrats. Forty-one percent of President Biden’s supporters say they believe at least some Republicans and their ideologies have become “so extreme in what they want that it is acceptable to use violence to prevent them from achieving their goals.”*

But 38% of Trump supporters say it would be OK to use violence to prevent Democrats from achieving their goals.

The poll echoes several questions about democratic life and shows that a good number of participants questioned whether democracy is still a viable system of governance.

Thirty-one percent of Trump supporters said the U.S. should explore alternative forms of government to ensure stability and progress, compared to 24% of Biden supporters.

Brookings noted that a recent study put the United States among flawed democracies, following Trump’s refusal to acknowledge Biden’s election victory and concerns about deteriorating checks and balances to executive power.

Certainly, growth of executive power at the expense of others is already a long-standing process in the United States, but the distancing and lack of dialogue between opposing sectors is worrisome.

*Editor’s note: Although correctly translated, this quoted excerpt could not be independently verified.

About this publication

About Stephen Routledge 156 Articles
Stephen is the Head of a Portfolio Management Office (PMO) in a public sector organisation. He has over twenty years experience in project, programme and portfolio management, leading various major organisational change initiatives. He has been invited to share his knowledge, skills and experience at various national events. Stephen has a BA Honours Degree in History & English and a Masters in Human Resource Management (HRM). He has studied a BSc Language Studies Degree (French & Spanish) and is currently completing a Masters in Translation (Spanish to English). He has been translating for more than ten years for various organisations and individuals, with a particular interest in science and technology, poetry and literature, and current affairs.

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