The Role Of Polarization In American Politics

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What is polarization?
Throughout the course of American history, arguments occurred regarding what role the government should play in the democratic process. Since the formation of two major political parties during the 1800s, political polarization began to affect how the government functions. Scholars use polarization as a guide to determine just how divided America truly is. Polarization of American politics has been shown to change in the last several decades, being influenced by certain beliefs and ideologies, and have been seen to flip between parties. Studies have been able to measure this change in polarization over time from the late 1900s to today.
Polarization is diverging from median Republican and Democratic views, increasing
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“An important part of political polarization is just in your head” explains how people’s opinions play a key role in political polarization (Gelman 2016, 1). People may have misconceptions about who is voting Democrat or Republican, leading them to believe that ideologies vary. Biases and prejudices tend to shape the people’s view of political polarization. According to Douglas Ahler and Gaurav Sood, “people think that 32% of Democratic Supporters are LGBT (6% in reality) and 38% of Republican supporters earn over $250,000 per year (2%)… These misperceptions are relatively universal across partisan groups and positively associated with political interest.” Therefore, misperceptions tend to influence their view point on opposing political parties and their ideologies, but the causes may also stem from other influential sources (Gelman, 2016…show more content…
The political elites change government and social interactions as well as influence a “long-term realignment” (Hopkins and Sides 2015, 70). Republican and Democratic opinions are split in regards to how much government interaction should be present in welfare, Obamacare, and tax cuts. More competition also leads to greater stakes in times of political controversy because a small advantage could lead to a majority in the Senate or the House. Contemporary politics utilize competition to gain more political power. A graph illustrates how competition affects the Democratic and Republican parties. During the 1860s, competition favored the Republicans with a level reaching over 20. However, in 2010, competition significantly diminished, reaching around two (Hopkins and Sides 2015, 77). Overall, Democrats and Republican elites influence the amounts of polarization in America, driven by their differing political ideologies and a hunger for greater political
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