The Growing Divide: Political Party Polarization in America

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The United States has seen an increased division between the Republican and Democratic parties, particularly in recent years. But what is to blame for this growing divide? Is there a root problem or is this a snowball effect? The seemingly ever-growing gap has a number of contributing issues and phenomena.

Technology Leaps

Throughout the last two decades, political leaders have had much easier access to the general public of the United States due to technological advances that have taken place. Social media, smart phones, and the 24 hour news cycle have revolutionized communication. These advancements have made it possible for messages to grow more and more apparent to a citizen’s everyday life. In the 1990s, Bill Clinton would have never dreamed of YouTube, much less having his political views pop up in a virtual advertisement before a streamed video.

This unprecedented accessibility has made political views easier to share on a large scale and the “keyboard warrior” mentality has emboldened people to not only share, but furiously defend those views. As the 2016 election began to reach the finish line, now President Donald Trump took to Twitter to expand his audience and reach a younger generation of those plugged in to social media. This strategy bore fruit and in the wake of Trump’s election, other political leaders have now followed suit. This goes for local and state elections as well, as the popularity of these new forms of campaigning lead to growing possibilities for candidates.

Advertising Reach

While other factors do take place there, the root of it is a changing time and an ability to reach those who are in a demographic that can also have their voices heard on these platforms. This divide will keep growing as there are many “dog eat dog” races that force candidates to bash the other party in many cases and to help move those in their party further from the other. It is a very important time in our nation’s political history and the current political divide is currently higher than ever.  

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By: Zachary Scott Akers, EKU Graduate Assistant

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