Are political tensions at an all-time high?

As with any political article, the views reflected are that of the student writer and not representative of Cherokee High School or CCSD.

Lately, our world has faced more and more political division. However, as we reflect on this, is this concept necessarily a good thing or a bad thing? Rather–is it productive or worsening the state of our nation’s unity? It is noted this political divide has occurred more and more following both of the polarizing 2020 and 2016 elections.

A notable figure appeared in both United States elections and will garner various feelings: former business mogul, television celebrity, and political outsider, Donald Trump. His unconventional campaign approaches with more critical tones, and most active Twitter account of any candidate (26,000 Tweets over the course of the presidency according to the Pew Research Center), led to a rise in either support or opposition–but less so directly with him and more so with each other. More Americans seemed to share their voices publically in support or in opposition, especially as more events transpired in his presidency such as former-President Trump’s censorship on Twitter and two impeachments. Tensions rose even more as the nation experienced COVID-19 and the fight for racial equality.

Even with the differences between “conservatives,” “liberals,” and others, former President Trump earned great support for the 2020 election only for the situation to immerse itself in more division over election controversies and uncertainties following the Capitol riots. The controversies aren’t limited to the Republican party. His opponents Hilary Clinton and Joe Biden have also been the source of their own controversies or divisive discussions.

Photo Credit to Columbiacountyor.gov

Is political division on the rise?

According to the Pew Research Center, one of the ways to assess political division is through approval ratings.

“An average of 86% of Republicans approved of Trump’s handling of the job over the course of his tenure, compared with an average of just 6% of Democrats – the widest partisan gap in approval for any president in the modern era of polling” states Michael Dimock and John Gramlich of Pew.

“How America Changed During Donald Trump’s Presidency” Pew Research Center

However, according to the data below from the Pew Research Center, it is apparent that this is not necessarily a presidential issue, but a growing political divide as evident by the presidential approval ratings growing in division with each new president.

Photo Credit to Pew Research Center

Although there may be a correlation between the elections, recent presidencies, and rising tensions, it could be that the source is a culminating breaking point of issues that needed to surface to seek solutions such as immigration, foreign aid, racial equality, objective media coverage, and how to support each other during disasters such as a pandemic.

In regards to these issues, it seems that people are not as accepting to new ideas, solutions, or opinions as believed, and this creates further divide when leaders are chosen to represent voices on each side. It gives the public a target. One of the main effects of unresolved conflicts is the problem created when others cannot simply agree to disagree. Friendships are lost, relationships, jobs etc. A global Ipsos MORI study shows us that “three in four people on average across the 27 countries (76%) think society in their country is divided.” 

In 2019, the Pew Research Center found that the majority of Democrats and Republicans were divided on basic issues.

This is not an issue exclusively experienced by The United States.

“Countries that are most concerned about division are Serbia, where most people (93%) say their society is divided, Argentina (92%), Peru and Chile (both 90%). Those in Saudi Arabia are least likely to say their country is divided (34%) followed by China (48%) and Japan (52%),” stated a BBC global survey.

Another study by NPR found that stigmatizing our political divide (focusing on it) has increased the divide as well. In other words, because we feel it is so bad, we are making it worse and further dividing ourselves from each other.

“Americans believe members of the other party dehumanize, dislike, and disagree with their party twice as much as they actually do,” said Hannah Allum with NPR News. Listen to their podcast below or click here.

Photo Credit to Pinterest

This is an interesting take. How do we approach such a difficult issue like this one?

Firstly, we need to be able to discuss these ideas with an open mind. The main problem with today’s political divide is we are too quick to jump to conclusions. We need to be able to sit down and hear others perspectives. As well, as express our own opinions in a kindly manner. Again, remember that we may feel that we are more divided than we actually are.

By doing this, we will connect better to others. Although, we may not fully understand their point of view it is important we try to with more empathy. Another way we could connect is to start or join online groups tackling these important issues. Online groups are a great way to meet and connect with others of many different cultural backgrounds.

Photo Credit to UCF

The final approach we could take is attending local protests and rallies to learn more information. To find out more information about rallies and protests in your area, search up on Google and Facebook for local hot spots.

In conclusion, while we are perceived to be divided politically, we don’t have to be. We have the sources and will power to put aside our differences and learn more about each other’s individual politics in a non-divisive way.

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