4: Mobilization of extremes
The United States, a country located in North America according to Itypetravel, has only two parties of national importance, and they have traditionally been very complex. When parties have to respond to several groups of voters with different interests and values, they tend to become more moderate because they have to make sure not to offend anyone.
During Trump’s presidency, Democrats and Republicans have taken long strides in their respective directions because what unites voters the most is fear and contempt for the other side. While Trump has called for disgust with the media, science, “political correctness” and the established political system, Democrats have distanced themselves from racism, sexism, vaccine skepticism and the undermining of democratic institutions.
But the strong polarization also has another effect: groups that for various reasons feel excluded from society have in fact become more integrated into the political conversation. The last four years have given greater leeway for groups that have not been heard in periods of less polarization. Movements such as #metoo and Black Lives Matter , on the one hand, and alt-right on the other, place higher demands on change than has been the case “within” the last few decades, and both sides have strong political supporters.
5: Rhetorical polarization
Such integration is difficult to spot, and the reason for this is the rhetorical polarization, which makes people struggle to hold a mutually understandable and reasonably polite conversation across political views.
This development is not due to greater political contradictions than before: for example, there is higher support than ever for the community to be responsible for combating racism, sexism and homophobia. The reason for the rhetorical polarization is rather that different groups have fundamentally different perceptions of what the problem is.
For example, most of the racism debate is between two wings that consider themselves anti-racist, with one interpreting racism as reprehensible attitudes that exist in only a small part of the population, and the other seeing racism as a structural problem that we all help to perpetuate. .
While those who condemn racists on moral grounds are supported by the fact that accusations also affect themselves, those who warn against structural racism perceive the opposition as another expression of the fact that minorities’ experiences are not taken seriously. Although these groups agree on much, the rhetoric between them is often harsh and irreconcilable.
The clearest ideological divide in the United States is between those who support the development of equal rights for all and those who long for the “old days”, whether they think of the Southern States before the Civil War or the clear hierarchy of men and women of the 1950s, white and black. Here the rhetorical polarization is far more dramatic, because it is about how one relates to traditional media, science and the political system.
During Trump’s presidency, there has been a sharp increase in groups that do not believe in information they receive from established institutions, such as the media, and instead swear by conspiracy theories.
Another key reason why rhetorical polarization has become so strong is the rise of social media. In social media, people often look for like-minded people who can confirm their perception of reality, and algorithms ensure that we get more and more of what we prefer to see. This is often called an “echo chamber”. Many of those who dare to participate in broader debates experience anger and harassment from dissidents, which reinforces the fear and disgust between groups.
6: Uncertain future
The storming of Congress was probably the result of both ideological, affective and rhetorical polarization. Ideologically, the rebels were a complex gang, with some waving southern flags and shouting slogans of white power, some protesting against “big government”, while others defended the constitution in the belief that the election was illegal. They rallied affectionately in a common Trump tribe against the political system, based on information from an online rhetorical echo chamber.
What will happen next is still quite uncertain. On the one hand, this serious incident could cause more moderate Trump supporters and other Republicans to turn their backs on extreme groups so that they lose influence. On the other hand, there are many who still believe that the election was rigged, and may continue to fight with violent means.
It is certainly at least that Joe Biden has a great challenge in uniting the polarized American society in the time to come.