The American Political Divide: What is it?


Staff member
I assert that the divide between Left and Right in this country is greater than it's been in my lifetime, or at least in my awareness. I don't have any evidence for this, but the assertion doesn't seem refutable, and people I know understand exactly what I'm talking about.

I look at maps like this (county electoral map from 2016) and think it looks Urban vs Rural, but I'll post some follow-up threads looking at different reasons I believe have an influence on this divide. I'd love your thinking on these issue - this is something where my thinking is so muddled I can't speak eloquently on it, and I'm hoping thinking it through publicly will help me better understand what are just really deep intuitions at this point:


(That sure looks like Urban/University counties versus rural to me. Even New York shows this divide where Upstate NY looks as red as most of the rest of the country.)

So what's the difference in our points of view? Why is the divide to great in this country? Why are we now seeing violence at political rallies? Why do we have such cognitive dissonance from one or both sides (with regard to "fake news," whether Trump is a white nationalist, whether Kavanaugh is a rapist, etc)?

Ideas that come to the top of my head that I'll start new threads on:
  • Formal education. This will come across as biased but I'm going to go ahead and throw it out there: once upon a time if you couldn't pass calculus you didn't need to go to college, and calculus requires an IQ of 120 or so to be able to pass it. (That's why historically it's been a requirement for people who want to go to medical school, or take accounting as a major, or computer science, etc. If you can't pass calculus then you're probably not bright enough to handle the harder stuff.) Now we live in age where everyone needs to take on huge debt to go to college, and some of the less bright folks filter down into the grievance studies majors instead of STEM, and come out indoctrinated, apparently unable to examine facts or question the lies they've been fed in college. They know how to protest, though.
  • Self-sufficiency versus dependency. Folks in rural areas tend to solve their own problems -- what my wife calls "South Georgia Practical" -- whereas folks in urban areas tend to depend on government services. It's a correlation that I'm unsure of the cause of - folks who want to take care of themselves often move to rural areas, but if you're in one you may need to solve your own problems because there isn't a governmental support network to fall back on. So, people in each area see a different role for government - what's needed versus what's overreach.
  • Sex-based differences. This will offend some, but at the core we have an argument over freedom versus safety in a lot of these political conflicts. Freedom is inherently unsafe, and the safest place to be is wearing a straight jacket, in a padded room, fed bland foods, exposed to television that won't make you upset, forced to exercise in a limited way from time to time. That's the opposite of freedom, but you will live to a nice long age. Mix in biological differences between men and women (which I an not an expert on, but I believe is a contributing factor here) and you have different core assumptions about the fundamental role of government. The Declaration and Constitution say nothing about keeping people "safe," but every politician seems to think safety is their number one goal.
  • City life is different than rural life. If my neighbor stores gasoline unsafely out here in the country, that's on him unless it's a direct thread to my property. If you're storing gasoline unsafely (or at all) in a 20 story apartment complex that's a huge risk to everyone. Negligent discharge through the roof? Pay better attention and be glad for the rest of the four rules that saved you from worse. Negligent discharge with 10 floors of people above you? Maybe negligent homicide. Living in a dense urban area is different that living on 20 (or 2,000) acres, and I think folks in big cities think what makes sense for them must obviously make sense for everyone else. It's cultural illiteracy from the blue areas, basically. If the police can respond in 2 minutes your strategies are different than it the response time is 2 hours.
I'm sure there's more. Let me know what you think - if we can clearly identify the differences between camps, then maybe we can start to bridge the divide in a way that makes less pleasant conflict less likely.


Yes and it's only getting worse. I know that, for myself, every time I hear another lie from the other side I get harder and more combative. I'm in my 21st year of hearing such things. The lies get worse, the under-handed tactics get worse and that just means I need to fight harder. I don't see it letting up any time soon ... or later for that matter. Some solace though in that it has been this bad before. However, to get out it took a truly cataclysmic event like a civil war.


New member
Some anecdotes in reaction to certain points you raise:

Without revealing too much personal information, I live an a semi-rural, solidly red zone. My wife and I send our child to to university in a state in which there are no red zones. Not a single one (hey, that's a hint). It's a beautiful campus and a beautiful city populated by beautiful people. It's a very safe place where everyone has "hate has no home here" lawn signs.

We often wonder why the reds get all the nice places near the shore.

My wife and I are blessed to have good jobs. We work hard. Neither one of us came from money, but we studied, earned degrees, worked crappy jobs for many years, and now we earn a lot of money. We pay much more in taxes that most people earn in a year. Because of that, we don't get a nickel of financial aid for tuition which costs us nearly $80,000 a year. Yes that's after taxes, and yes you read that correctly: $78,880 this year, probably more next year, all of it 100% payable up front in cash.

Yes it's hard. We earn a lot, but have to live quite frugally. We drive ten year old cars, never go out to eat, don't have cable TV. Everyone I speak to thinks it's crazy to spend that kind of money for tuition and of course they're right, but our child really likes the college. So do we, and I think education is crucial for our children's future success.

The point is, we live in a solidly red zone... the zone that makes money. We don't complain... unless you call this post complaining, and I guess that's what I'm doing.

We send our money to a blue state. They don't live in the same world as we do: the hard working one. They just get the benefits of it.

George P

Well-known member
I had a student loan back in the 70s; when I had a BK from a small business, thaty debt was NOT forgiven and I took 10 years to pay it off. If kids want to go to college and can't afford it, you take out a loan and you bhetter expect to pay it ALL back - so you'd better be studying something like engineering instead of some idiotic social unicorn major.


I have a grandson and his wife who just paid off all of her student debt. She earned a master's degree in physical/occupational therapy. They've been married 6 years. He's a journeyman union industrial insulator and she worked at anything and everything she could till she finished school and got a job with a large medical center. They scrimped and saved, didn't spend much on anything and even lived in her parents basement for nearly a year to hoard the rent they would have paid in order to pay off the debt. That comes from a good upbringing and strong family ties. The American Spirit.

Thanks to LBJ and the Democrats and RINOs with the War on Poverty leading to the Government Plantation, they were the major contributor to the breakdown in our American culture. Couple that with the huge leftist and radical feminists (60's radicals) who put on suits and infiltrated our education system, our financial system, our churches, our media, our government and our large corporations we now are experiencing the fruit of their labors.

I strongly agree with gun guy's first three observations and totally understand his fourth.


It is a map of those who work versus those who want a handout
That’s a pretty big oversimplification. Look at eastern Kentucky: a significant percentage of people there are on the dole and many are happy to be as long as they can make the payment on their trailer and buy some meth for the weekend.


All the items listed abover are but symptoms of the real reason, the root cause. Sistema1927 points out the basis for the divide; few fear God anymore.

Light vs. darkness, good vs. evil:

Woe to those who call evil good
and good evil,
who put darkness for light
and light for darkness,
who put bitter for sweet
and sweet for bitter!
- Isaiah 5:20 (ESV)

This truly is a battle for the soul of the nation.


Despite the apparent stark contrast on the map, I would like to be the USA is largely peopled by folks who don't really care what you think or believe, as long as you don't bother them or hurt people.

Sadly, I'm fully aware there are at least some nannies on both sides who think it's somehow their right to legislate what people do.


Christian versus secular values has a lot to do with it, and while we're divided in quite a few other ways I think the rise of socialism in the US has a lot to do with it. Socialists used to deny that's what they were and to a certain extent still try to play word games, such as calling themselves democratic socialists. The curtain started getting pulled back during Obama's presidency and Bernie Sanders pulled it back much further, if not all the way back. There are those of us who understand how bad life is under socialism and there are those who are fooled by the way it's being portrayed using words like "fair". The fact that many schools don't teach much, if any history plays into it as it means we have a generation of kids and young adults not learning lessons from the past. Those pushing socialism believe they have an opportunity to change our country to that system of government while those opposed to it have had a wake up call, with many pushing back. For now I live in the belly of the beast, in the Chicago area and what I hear people spouting and their naivety is amazing. My oldest son and daughter in law live in rural Wisconsin, and we plan on moving there also after my youngest son finishes 8th grade next summer. Houses in that area of Wisconsin are selling quickly with people leaving Illinois in droves, adding a geographic or urban versus rural element to the divide.
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Active member
The most important political divide in America today is the one that is internal to the Democrat party. It is divided into so many feuding factions that would never vote for each other that they are doomed to either complete failure or complete restructuring.


New member
True political views are outwardly focused.

Much of what people mistake for political views are inwardly focused and amount to nothing more than different brands of selfishness.

Debates about the latter solve nothing because the debates tend to mistakenly focus on political principles and that's not what's really the issue. The divide comes from people arguing about which brand of selfishness is superior while pretending that they are discussing how to improve society via political means. No small wonder that such discussions are rooted in rancor and immaturity and can't be discussed civilly.