History never repeats itself, only rhymes; Will young Americans address this unspoken divide? Pt.2

by Anthony Beltran

Political Polarization is normal within every Democracy, but there will usually be those who share more moderate views within their respective party.

However, in current times we see a much larger gap between Political Parties than in the last fifty years, as explained by Drew DeSilver in PEW Research ‘The Polarization in today’s Congress has roots that go back decades,’ “As Democrats have grown more liberal over time and Republicans much more conservative the ‘middle’…has vanished.” There is now the lowest recorded number of moderate members of congress than in the past fifty years now, with a growing separation in opposing party favorability.

The deterioration of the situation has progressed so far, that people consider dating outside of your political party almost taboo! Where did this modern trend start? Look no further than bell-bottom jeans, and the disco ball as we head back to the seventies, as the seventies were the birthplace of America’s modern political ideologies.

Most political scientists refer to this decade, specifically seventy-two to seventy-nine, as the origin point of today’s political environment. Protests that disapproved of the Vietnam war, promoted racial equality, fought against the Gender pay gap, and advocated for Women’s freedom of expression and their right to choose. The waning of the time for war and a damaged version of the American dream.

During the Korean war, distaste for involving the United States military in wars outside its border grew but this movement did not gain momentum until the drafting of American soldiers to serve in the Vietnam war. Within twenty years, different events that occurred throughout the country during the ’70s finally came to a climax: The Cold War, the Bay of Pigs, a Multitude of Civil Rights protests, the crippling energy crisis, high inflation rates, Richard Nixon’s re-election, and the Watergate scandal. All events led to a growing distrust of the U.S. government.

Americans no longer felt that they could obtain a financially stable home, nor could the government provide a secure nation to benefit the American citizen and protect their families and loved ones. With this belief in the minds of most young Americans at the time, we see a growth in bi-partisan representation in most states.

Voters now embrace more conservative values, DeSilver explains that “southerners made up less than 15% of the House GOP caucus fifty years ago but compromise about 42% of it today…While Republicans, in general, have become more conservative, that’s especially been true of southern Republicans in the House”. With a rise in more southern states becoming red states, and red states becoming considerably more conservative, we start to see a shift in internal opposition within the Democrat Party as well, as stated by PEW Research in 2022, “…and 62% of Democrats cited the harm to the country by the other party’s policies as a major reason for their decision to identify with their party”.

Considering the anticipated darkness ahead of us, younger generations show opposition to the current trend of partisan hostility Americans have toward one another. According to a PEW Research Center study on party hostility, ‘neither party’ is an exceedingly popular view with the public, as the share of Americans holding unfavorable views of both parties is as high as 27 %, the highest it’s been in decades. If this trend towards polarization continues to grow, then where will it lead us, and will it ever end?