• Wed. Mar 22nd, 2023


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Battle Over Abortion Threatens to Deepen America’s Divide

One study found that Democrats and Republicans in Congress are further apart ideologically than at any point in the last half-century. The public’s view of its presidents has grown more divided along partisan lines than at any time in the history of polling. House districts have grown so rock-solid liberal or conservative that only a few dozen will be truly competitive in this fall’s election.

“Really, in every area of politics, you see evidence of partisan polarization,” said Carroll Doherty, director of political research at the Pew Research Center.

Increasingly, Americans are separating into their own safe spaces — geographically, culturally, ideologically, factually and metaphorically. Not only do they stick to news channels or social media accounts that reinforce their viewpoints, but they also choose to live among and socialize with those who share their opinions.

In 1960, 4 percent of Democrats and Republicans said they would be unhappy if their children married someone from the other party. Today, according to the Public Religion Research Institute, that number has grown to 35 percent among Republicans and to 45 percent among Democrats. Over the course of just four years, the Institute for Family Studies found, marriages in America between Republicans and Democrats fell by half. As it was, in 2016 only 9 percent of marriages involved couples from opposite parties; by 2020, that figure had slid to just 4 percent.

Lilliana Mason, a political scientist at the SNF Agora Institute at Johns Hopkins University, said her research showed that Americans likewise did not even want to live next door to someone from the other party. “Our realities become different. The people we surround ourselves with have completely different narratives about what’s happening in America,” she said.

Ms. Mason, who on Friday published her latest book, “Radical American Partisanship: Mapping Violent Hostility, Its Causes, and the Consequences for Democracy,” written with Nathan P. Kalmoe, said the fragmentation of abortion laws in a post-Roe America would only exacerbate those trends as people sought to live in states where they agreed with the new laws.

“The fact that we’ve physically moved away from each other allows us to hate each other more,” she said. “It’s easy to dehumanize someone you’ve never met. It encourages the us-versus-them sort of thinking that creates this dire stakes for elections — if they win the election, everything is over.”