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The Threat of American Political Polarization

Lake View, Chicago, IL, USA, June 2020. Photo by Max Bender on Unsplash

According to the Pew Research Center, 90% of Biden’s supporters and 89% of Trump’s supporters are concerned about the country’s direction.

There has been a wide contrast between the past and current America when divulging upon politics. Rather than a simple opposition between Republicans and Democrats, it has become a battleground based on ethnicity, financial status, sex, sexual orientation, and religion. It has inevitably consumed the wellbeings of some individuals.

Trump taking office in 2016 may have caused the landscape that we see today. At the beginning of 2020, according to the New York Times, Trump was impeached by the Democrats for “abuse of power” as well as “obstruction of congress,” representing the divide between the two political parties. Both sides cemented in their opposition or support of the president.

Furthermore, the technological age has introduced social media in which people show reflections of themselves through apps such as Instagram or Snapchat. Recently, there has been an outburst in expressing one’s political opinion among these applications.

According to Statista, 69.8% of Instagram users are under the age of 34. The younger audience is thus introduced to these ideas. Day after day, there are new political controversies that are introduced. People are then able to publicly express their beliefs upon these controversies.

Although it is great to introduce politics to the young leaders of the world, it becomes a problem when it extends further than that. For instance, there are always two sides to an argument. People should expect others to have ideas that differ from one another and should thus be able to back up their arguments.

However, we do not see this among users of social media platforms. When one sees something they do not agree with, it does not become a debate but rather a criticism of the person itself. The technological culture has begun to spread towards political language, as people do not act to defend their position but rather bring down another. 

What does this mean for the future? If political polarization continues to further expand, there could be trouble for the country. Simple political controversy would not become mere politics but rather extend towards acts of violence. As seen in the Black Lives Matter movement, there has been a notable amount of violence conjured. For instance, Atlanta protesters “set fires, looted stores, and broke windows.” In this case, peaceful protests have turned into acts of violence that should not be justified. Political ideology should never justify something as severe as vandalizing and looting.

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