Those of us past thirty can remember a time in politics when the national discourse wasn’t so envenomed. There was partisan anger, but it was generally kept, with some exceptions, at a non-psychotic level. And on certain issues politics stopped at the water’s edge and the country came first.
This was true for both Republicans and Democrats. Sure, there were AOC and Marjorie Taylor Greene types. But they weren’t taken seriously by adults and consigned to the fever swamps of politics. Why has this changed? Why is politics like this now?
Some of it is 24/7 media from a plethora of outlets. More opportunities for free publicity means politicians will act out more to get coverage, as outrageous behavior is more interesting, and will draw more viewers, than the mundane everyday business of government. The ridiculous behavior encourages their extremist supporters who turn the tone of the discourse shrill.
But it’s deeper than that. The polarization between the parties today seems to be a Grand Canyon of division that will not be bridged anytime soon. This is true because its primary cause will not end soon. That is the political differences brought on by the very disparate cultural views of elitist liberals and populist conservatives, both in the vanguard of their modern parties. At the root of that, the education system.
Secondary education in American public schools is so bad across the board it is, and has been, churning out cultural and intellectual simpletons. But American private secondary education, in the purely academic sense, has done a decent job. However, all schools these days are PC. Elitist families, mostly liberal, send their kids to private schools. Working class families, culturally very conservative, oftentimes are in the public system.
This is certainly a 180 ideological change from generations ago. Conservative families tend to ignore PC or fight it. Liberal families embrace it. So at the end of the day you produce culturally and intellectually sophisticated liberals and culturally simple, brave, individualistic conservatives with common sense. To the liberal elitists, conservatives sound like Troglodytes. To conservatives, the left looks like a collection of soy boy Marxists, feminist harpies, and congenital layabouts.
Both sides vote accordingly and tend to loathe the other on cultural as much as political reasons, as culture is always at the root of politics. Add on to that the media megaphone of the lunatics in both parties, a siren call heard and internalized by the weak minded, and you have a perfect set up to intrinsically despise the other side. These are generalizations. A significant minority falls outside the parameters. I should know, as I belong to one of those minorities, among others.
The out of favor minority in both parties are the cultural rebels. My group, conservative elitists, WFB Republicans, are an endangered species in the GOP. The other side of the coin are working class moderate Democrats. Everybody hates our guts.
Also, because of the spectacular growth of wealth and capital well paying jobs are also available to the well educated elite. This further widened the cultural gap.
Populism, the reigning Republican orthodoxy, has no room for earned merit or intellectual achievement. Thus elitist thinking is out. Populism is a non-cerebral lowest common denominator movement. The mob with Cliff Notes on democracy. Working class moderate Democrats are not the favorite people of Nancy Pelosi and Bernie Sanders. The upscale chi chi salons of NYC, L A., and DC, do not lend themselves to individualism or common sense.
Thus we are educated and thus programmed to never bridge the ideological and cultural Grand Canyon between the parties. In fact, we are encouraged to fight it out. And all the while, both populist Republicans and elitist Democrats are laughing all the way to the bank.