The heyday of polarization in America was during the cold war but of late there are some issues which are of public that lack polarization while still there are some issues where polarization is clearly manifested. Polarization is the presence of sharp division between two opposing sides like those of the batteries which have two polar heads that is positive and negative. Also in all our affairs there are those that support and others who oppose, this is what is referred as polarization.
In American society, there have been polarizations over some issues although there is no sharp division as you would expect, like in the case of homosexuality. There are those who support and those that oppose it but neither of the two sides has ever proposed it to be declared illegal. Now at this juncture the question arises, is the American public as polarized as it once was? This is what basically this research paper will basically try to find out.
It will compare and contrast the available evidence about the lack of polarization in public opinion over most issues such as Bush and the Iraq war as well as others. It will also try to establish how institutions influence public outcomes. The American population today is as polarized as the situation was sometimes back. The society is somehow united unlike in the 20th century when there was White supremacy on one side and on the other side there was Black Nationalism.
The division between the two resulted to acts of violence that were directed against the black Americans. (Kollman K. 1998) Nevertheless, America cannot be over praised that it has reduced its polarization as in the recent past it was witnessed over Bush’s policies. Though it is not a big deal a president to be supported or being opposed, surveys have shown that unlike how the gap between the supporters and opponents was to other presidents, when it comes to bush’s case, the gap is a bit wider.
During the time Bush has spent in politics as the president of the United States, the division between the democrats and the republicans has continuously increased though this was not the trend during the 2001, September 11th attack. This division is based on assessment of some issues that affect the American population at large and some of these issues are like the economic growth, evidence linking Iraq to the September 11 attack and Saddam Hussein, economy, health care provision, Afghanistan and terrorism.
In the 1990s there was a sharp division between the Clinton’s administrations due to what was referred to as the sex scandal. Here the right wingers on one side incited the public by use of dirty tricks and this caused slight division to the Americans. Unable to bring down Clinton’s administration, they started showing people that he was not supposed to be their leader. These right wingers wanted to disrupt all economic and social programs by disrupting the taxation program.
Despite the machination of this campaign, the American polarization never increased as people understood this as a campaign to soil the Clinton’s administration. It is safe to conclude that at that time there existed two divided groups; that is the rich and the ordinary citizens but the efforts to widen this gap further hit a dead lock after people got wise to them. (Mclaulin M. 2008) The issues of Iraq war has raised a lot of concerns and has led to an increased division between the Republicans and the Democrats. The republicans do not support the proposed timetable for U.
S troops withdraw from Iraq. About 65 percent oppose this move. While among the democrats, 81% of them strongly support this timetable while about 15% are opposed to it. In the past surveys that have been conducted, they revealed that Republicans do support US involvement in the war and are opposed the proposed measures to end it while on the other hand, the Democrats want nothing to do with it and are constantly pressing Bush’s administration to end it because it has cost the Americans a lot of money and human resources.
Many American troops are continually killed in Iraq and Afghanistan in search of peace that is not forth coming. (Gary C. J. 2007) The political institutions will have a very serious impact come the 2008 presidential election. The stand on social issues will be used as a basis to determine who between the Republican and Democratic presidential candidate will be elected. Obama and Clinton clearly indicated that they do not support this war but there is high probability that McCain would continue from where bush has reached. (Mclaulin M. 008) In the recent past, there has been a notable polarization especially between Bush’s policies between the supporters, the republicans and his opponents, the democrats on various issues and most probably on Iraq war.
This polarization could be traced back to era of slavery when the conservative Southerners who were opposed to the abolishing slavery formed a Republican Party while the northern who were advocating for the abolition of slavery formed the Democrat party while the Northerners joined the Republican Party. (Earl B. nd Merle B. 2002) According to a survey that was conducted by CBS and the New York Times, it revealed that many people were concerned with the situation in Iraq than on other issues. About 34% were worried about the Iraq war, while 17% were concerned with the economy, 16 % on health care, and 17% on immigration and employment. However, the gap between the war and other issues is closing in of late. Immediately after Iraq war was declared, many US citizens fully supported this decision but the trend had been on decline since then.
According to the polls that were done by the Pew Centre, Gallup and ABC News noted that in the period before 2003, a significant number of Americans supported the war but today this figure has declined almost by a half. The situation is different currently because the number of those who are opposed to this war has been on the increase as in 2007 it was about 52 percent. (Gary C. J. 2007) Many Americans believe that Bush and his Republican Party are not willing to change the American policies on Iraq and this unanimous agreement portrays a decline in polarization as the figure currently stands at 78 percent.
Many Republicans and Democrats see Bush as a stubborn president who is not willing to change his policies on Iraq War and the withdrawal of American troops compared to the next president who will be elected come 2008 presidential election. On the issue of cutting back the troops in Iraq, there is little polarization among the Republicans as only 7 percent think that the next president would do so while about 73 percent of them believe that Bush has no intension of withdrawing either all the troops or a portion of them.
According to polls that were released by the Pew Research Centre and by the Foreign Relations Council, they expressed a substantial revival of the trend of isolationism among the Americans as it was the case during the First World War. In 2002, only 30% who thought that Americans should keep off from international affairs but of late, about 42% of Americans advocate for reduced increased rate of terrorism against the Americans and attribute this to the involvement in foreign affairs like on Afghanistan N. Korea and Iran. So there is less divisions among the Americans today than in the past on this.
In the United States, though there has been a division between supporters and opponents of the gay marriage, the polarization is not very big, many Americans believe in legal marriage as an institution that binds families. Many Americans support the marriage between a man and woman. In fact there is only one state in America that has acknowledged the legality of the gay marriage and the state in question is Massachusetts which argued than refusing to accept gay marriage as a legal institution was unconstitutional.
About thirty eight states of the United States have passed laws that are meant to protect the marriage between a husband and wife. Green D, Bradley P. and Eric S. 2002) On the debate abut universal health care provision in America; according to a survey that was conducted in New Hampshire, there is very little polarization as about 80 percent of the Democrats believe that it is the responsibility of the government to provide free health care to all. This means that almost all the Democrats unanimously agree on this but on the other hand, about 30% of the Republicans do not believe that the government should provide free health care to all people.
They believe that instead of the government taking this responsibility of providing citizens with free health care. The government should come up with proper tax incentives that would lead to an improved health care that would be affordable to all. Many private insurance companies would emerge and due to their competing nature for clients, they would then be forced to lower their charges. The rift between the Democrats and the Republicans is very wide as the two hold different opinions on the provision of health care to all.
On the economic issue, there has been a unanimous agreement that Bush’s administration has destroyed the economy of the nation because of indulgence in some unworthy programs such as Iraq war and war on terrorism that is far from being won. Many Americans believe that the shortcomings that have been caused by this regime will outweigh the achievements it had achieved. This indicates a decline in polarization. In the past, many Americans and especially the republicans were against the issue of global warming.
They did see the point of the government with the issue of global warming. The issues on universal health care provision and poverty eradication have caused divisions among the Americans as both the Republicans and the Democrats want them to be government’s priority. In a survey that was done in 2007, it indicated a decline towards the Republican who opposed this and for this reason, there is no sharp division between the Republicans and the Democrats as the majority believe that these issues should be the government’s priorities.
The only thing they differ is in the approach to be used in making this a reality. (Fiorina M. 2004) On the abortion issue according to the polls that were conducted by Zogby, that the gap between pro abortion and opponents is not wide as about 68 percent Americans and mostly the republicans believe that it is manslaughter and thus murder while only 43% of the democrats object to this view. Most Americans from both sides of the political divides do support the passage of laws such as on parental notification and the legislation of unborn victims.
So, most of them as per the survey are increasingly coming to the agreement that abortion is bad and barriers should be set to limit the legalized abortion. In America, institutions have a lot of influence when it comes to political influence. These institutions are divided along political lines where each side supports a particular course of action. So if you belong to a particular faction that is supporting let us say, universal health care, then you will tend to sing the same tune. (Lowi J. J. , Ginsberg B. and Shepsse K.
A 2002) The way political institutions solve their differences determines how much support they would get from the people. Political institutions of any country are what shape its destiny. For example in America, the current political institutions have failed to influence the citizens in supporting their moves and especially on Iraq War. Indeed, Bush’s administration is unable to justify the need to fight the Iraq war and this has divided the Americans. The two key parties are trying to woo their followers in to supporting them by offering what they would be pleased to have once they ascend to power.
In short, according to this research paper, the magnitude of polarization in America is recently on the decline. It is not as it used to be especially in the slavery days and the civil rights time where citizen were sharply divided between the Blacks and the White supremacy. Currently people are tending to take one particular dimension and this could somehow be attributed to the influence from various political institutions as issues are taken differently between the Democrats and the Republicans.
Courtney from Study Moose
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