We’re becoming several Americas, each a stranger to the others and each increasingly hostile to the others. Each America today views its political adversaries as enemies whose ways of thinking are so harmful and alien as to be incomprehensible.
Mounting evidence tells us that at the heart of this disunion are approaches to conflict that produce polarization. Polarization is the process of society separating into mutually antagonistic groups that do not trust or even know one another.
We’re polarizing today in three harmful ways:
A large and growing partisan divide: Americans increasingly believe that those with whom they disagree politically are not only misguided, but are also bad people, members of an essentially alien out-group.
A large and growing class divide: The approximately 30 percent of Americans with four-year college degrees are mostly thriving, while the other 70 percent are falling further and further behind on nearly every measure.
A large and growing governing divide: Huge numbers of Americans no longer believe that their elected leaders, including those from their own party, are honest or can be trusted even to try to do the right thing.