Political division has become a serious problem in America. But what is causing this divide between right and left? I discuss that with Ross Benes, author of Rural Rebellion: How Nebraska Became a Republican Stronghold. In his book, Ross discusses what is causing the political division in the US, and what that means for real people. We’ll discuss his views of what’s dividing Americans and how we can address it.
What is Political Division?
A definition for political division that I use is “a situation in a country when people are incapable of coming together to discuss how the country should be run due to excessive partisanship or ideology.” We can see this in America today with our inability to have a political discussion.
Partisanship in America
These partisan divides are nothing new, though. In fact, the first partisan political division in the united states occurred between the federalists and anti-federalists. Or, if you want to include our time as colonies, we had deep divides between the Loyalists and Patriots. Our fervent and lively political dialogue has been a good thing, helping us move forward as a nation. Sadly, in the last few years, we've lost our ability to discuss ideas and do so in a productive way. Ever since the first partisan political division, we've been fighting these battles, but the tactics recently have been a bit out of bounds.
Why is Political Division so Bad?
The issue with division is that we ought to have some semblance of unity as a nation. We should be able to see our neighbor as a fellow countryman, even if we disagree. The fever pitch in American politics today is largely due to a mistrust of our neighbor combined with economic and political trends that hurt some while helping others. We are not supposed to agree on everything, but we should be able to agree to respect each other and live in civil society together.
Diving into the Problems and Solutions
Benes' book looks at the data and the stories to understand why this is happening. And, I think that is the approach we need. Looking at the data helps us learn about the trends in society at large, but the anecdotes and stories give us a glimpse at the people that underly the statistics. To solve a big problem, we'll need both.
A few of the things Ross and I discuss in this interview:
1. The thesis of his book: Rural Rebellion: How Nebraska Became a Republican Stronghold
2. Is this political division in the US a problem or just a trend we ought to be aware of?
3. What is influencing this deepening divide between urban and rural?
4. Does the media exacerbate political division? Or, is there an issue with the face we consume different media in different areas?
5. What is the potential fallout of this trend of increasing divisions? What other problems could it cause?
6. What are some solutions if we want to counteract this trend? How can we move toward a more unified country?
So, if you're looking to heal the political divide, find unity, and mend our country, this is a great conversation.