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a discussion of the causes of the divergence of American politics and culture

Discussion in 'Off-Topic' started by Hamilton321, Jan 1, 2018.

  1. Hamilton321

    Hamilton321 Chieftain

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    America is currently a country which is deeply divided culturally and politically, in some ways more divided than it has ever been. This is really a trend which has been going on ever since the fifties which was the last time of great unity within this country. My personal opinion is that while this is a complex issue that the main reasons are the following, not listed by importance or prevalence just what came to my mind:

    #I generational, the baby boomers and generations x and y are and were much more likely to become activists or form protests or become radical leftists or far-righters or to create some form of cultural work even if it is something simple (like fanfiction) than the generations dominant during the fifties. For those of you who don't study generational theory and who don't know which generations were dominant in the fifties there were two, the greatest generation in its adult years and the silent generation in its early adult, adolescent and for the youngest of them late childhood years. The greatest generation was known for being very conciliatory in everything it did and both generations were recovering from trauma from the crises of the thirties and forties.

    As children the silent generation had much of its creativity and curiosity beaten out of them as children by both the turmoil and by the way they were raised so they produced very little in terms of culture compared to other generations and pretty much adopted the culture of their greatest generation parents. These generations were not ones to produce political and cultural change.

    #II I think that the decline of a strong political and cultural center has also contributed to the division. Politically I'd say that there currently is no center. Both sides are very far away from each other and the rise of the far right has taken away all of the remaining points of agreement like nothing in an already politically tense era since the original rise of the Republican party back in the 1850s. I personally believe that this has been brought out by the drastic nature of the two great political swings of the late twentieth century i.e. the shift to the left on economic and social in the sixties that was continued into the seventies and was stopped in the eighties and the shift to the right on economic issues that continued into the nineties and was stopped in the 2000s.

    I apologize for the length of this post and I hope that I have made this clear enough for you to understand what I am saying. Comments, discussion, criticism and questions are welcome. I have more to say on this and plan to continue in future posts.
     
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  2. Broken_Erika

    Broken_Erika Nothing

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    There's a book that covers one of the main cultural divides in America today.

    Seems kind of childish but when you stop to think about it City people are very different from country people on most issues(i.e. guns, crime, religion, work ethic, ect.)
     
  3. Traitorfish

    Traitorfish The Tighnahulish Kid

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    Hm.

    edit: To prevent this post from being too glib, I don't think that America is as deeply divided as many Americans seem to believe. From an outside view, America is more homogeneous, socially and culturally, than at any time through the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. The North/South divide (and to a much lesser extent, a North/South/West divide) was the central axis on which federal politics turned for two centuries, but is now essentially a non-factor; to the extent it even registers, it's as side-effect of the interaction between population density and state lines. Americans mostly expect the same things from their government, and to the extent they differ, the break is along lines of generation or class rather than culture. Even to the extent that geography is a factor, as suggested by Broken Erika, it's partly self-selecting, and that older and richer people are more likely to inhabit surban urban areas or small towns, and younger and poorer people are more likely to inhabit cities.

    What you've mostly got is a political leadership that is invested in the idea of America being divided, which has painted itself into a corner with heightened rhetoric and a short-termist, narrowly-electoral approach to politics, and doesn't know how to get out without exposing its jugular to the other side. You've got a lot of people telling you that the country is fundamentally divided and that only they can save it, but it doesn't mean it's true, just that they want you to believe it's true.

    At least, that's the view from across the Atlantic.
     
    Last edited: Jan 1, 2018
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  4. warpus

    warpus In pork I trust

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    I dunno OP, I'm not convinced that generational shifts are responsible for all this.

    IMO it's moreso the emergence of "news" corporations that have taken to exploit certain dynamics in order to make more money. These dynamics include oversensationalism and making everything into a black/white issue. It's easier to write attention grabbing headlines when you've presented to the audience a simpler-to-understand-than-star-wars model of morality. Good guys on this side, bad guys on that side. Everyone knows what side they're on, and sensationalised attention-grabbing headlines are designed to get as many viewers as possible each and every day.

    So now as soon as you have an opinion on one thing, all of a sudden you are given a uniform, thrown into camp A or camp B, and told who to hate.

    The people who fund your politicians also exploit these dynamics and try to game the system in order to increase their own profits. The politicians themselves are oftentimes also heavily involved in the system and rely on it chugging along.

    So yeah, the generational differences noted do exist, but they're mainly just weapons of all these people who are trying to make a buck. If they didn't exist, they would be using something else. Meanwhile your average American voter is convinced that debates about abortion and gun laws are the most important items on the agenda
     
  5. hobbsyoyo

    hobbsyoyo https://thespacecadetblog.com/

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    That's not actually the priority if the average American voter (guns, abortion). That's the priority of an extremely vocal minority that have managed to rig the entire electoral system in their favor to achieve and maintain power in spite of those issues, not because of them.

    Extreme abortion and gun rights stances are pretty unpopular with the majority of the country.
     
  6. warpus

    warpus In pork I trust

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    However, they are two examples of issues American voters have been and continue to be distracted by
     
  7. Ryika

    Ryika Lazy Wannabe Artista

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    A big game of Divide and Conquer, played by money-hungry Capitalists.
     
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  8. hobbsyoyo

    hobbsyoyo https://thespacecadetblog.com/

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    Except they aren't? The vocal minority controls the government and they write the rules. It's not a distraction to want to vote them out to change the rules, that's what politics are for. But for most Americans, those issues are part of why they vote the way they do but not the whole reason. The only group that really votes based entirely on that crap is the extreme right, which again, control the entire government, which blows the issue out of proportion. It also makes good drama for cable news and the internet so it gets blown into a much bigger deal than it is.

    The majority does care about guns and abortions one way or the other but they aren't marching in the streets over it even if it gets brought up on every media outlet 24/7.
     
  9. warpus

    warpus In pork I trust

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    If they aren't, then they (and other distraction non-issues) sure seem to be taking up a lot of the discourse between the left and the right in the U.S.

    Either way this particular point and these particular examples make no difference to my main point in that post
     
  10. Gori the Grey

    Gori the Grey The Poster

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    Cable TV.

    Through the seventies, everybody watched the same TV shows: Happy Days, Love Boat. Now nobody does.
     
    Last edited: Jan 5, 2018
  11. Birdjaguar

    Birdjaguar Entangled Retired Moderator Supporter

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    the short answer is the end of the fairness doctrine and the rise of right wing talk radio and its profitability.
     
    Last edited: Jan 5, 2018
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  12. inthesomeday

    inthesomeday Immortan

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    Are you a meme account?
     
  13. Lexicus

    Lexicus Warlord

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    There are all sorts of meaningful measures by which political polarization is increasing to levels unseen since the buildup to the Civil War. I think a major driver of this, a la Birdjaguar, is changes in the media universe. Right-wing talk radio is part of it, but I think the internet and developments associated with the movement of much media onto the internet are the bigger factor.

    I'm not sure exactly what you mean by this but I couldn't disagree more. I think I want something from my government that is totally different than what the average Trump supporter wants. And moreover that the things I want from my government require that government to deny the Trump supporters many of the things they want, and vice versa.

    You just figured this out now?
     
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  14. inthesomeday

    inthesomeday Immortan

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    "Communistress" is pretty wack
     
  15. Lexicus

    Lexicus Warlord

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    More Strasseristress or something.
     
  16. Traitorfish

    Traitorfish The Tighnahulish Kid

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    That's simple hyperbole. The United States isn't witnessing anything like the polarisation or division it saw during the Civil Rights Movement, the Vietnam War or the Red Scares. You've found in social media a new and efficient mechanism for screeching at each other, but the divisions themselves are relatively shallow, in the long-view, a conflict of personalities and policies, rather than the shape of the future.

    The immediate prelude to the Civil War was Bleeding Kansas, a period of open conflict between armed paramilitary movements, which killed dozens and wounded hundreds. Millions of Americans, on both side of the Mason-Dixon, openly supported and even actively contributed to the efforts of the contending bands. Do you really, in all seriousness, imagine that the United States is even approaching the shadow of that sort of division?

    I didn't say "Lexicus", though, or "Trump supporters", I said "Americans". There are a small minority of quasi-socialists and proto-fascists who, I'm sure, disagree pretty fundamentally. But most Americans expect the government to do most of the same things in most of the same ways, they just agree about which parts of it should do what, how much and for who. The same fundamental expectations, that the government should guarantee security and civil rights, that it should promote competition while ensuring fair play, that it should provide education while fostering self-sufficiency, ensure public health while ensuring freedom of choice, are held across the board. They want parks and libraries and aircraft carriers, they want prisons and schools even when disagree on the proportions. Very few Americans are seriously interested in doings things differently, not in any fundamental way, they just maintain that things could be done better.
     
    Last edited: Jan 5, 2018
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  17. hobbsyoyo

    hobbsyoyo https://thespacecadetblog.com/

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    Lexicus does have a point though in that Trump actively campaigned on doing the exact opposite of what he has done on many issues. That Trump supporters are too dumb to notice (or likely too fixated on going after liberals) doesn't detract from that I think.
     
  18. Lexicus

    Lexicus Warlord

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    I would be fairly surprised if we didn't see some bloody Kansas-type fighting going on in the next decade (two decades at the outside) or so, yes. At least, unless you think the American system can still change itself. I'm very open to being disproved on this, and indeed hope I'm wrong, but...

    I agree with majority of this, but with a few important differences: the proto-fascists are something more than proto, and they're a "small minority" of tens of millions. And perhaps more importantly I believe there are tens of millions more Americans who are totally alienated from the political system, and crucially don't have any expectation that it will ever serve the people in any meaningful sense.
     
  19. inthesomeday

    inthesomeday Immortan

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    Why hope you're wrong? Still holding out for that reform?
     
  20. Kyriakos

    Kyriakos Alien spiral maker

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    The massive polarization/division is likely going to keep enlarging, until some states start leaving. Unless - of course - there is a nice world war in time to avert that.
    Imo the biggest issue isn't even the politicians who actively promote division so as to stay relevant to their voters. Biggest issue by now is that the culture of very low-level/trolling 'debate' seems impossible to change. Low-level such debate exists in all countries, of course, but in the US it seems that what in most others is the worst level of said debate, is there actually the relatively higher level, with a sewer extending below it all the way to clinical insanity or literal cretinism.

    An example: In most serious or half-serious countries, someone like Jon Stewart would be a somewhat logical commentator, with generally useful lack of passion. Not an intellectual, but a decent person with a working mind. In the US he is - due to what the other commentators/public figures are - glaringly better than the vast majority of those doing the tv debate.
     

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