America may be known for its abundance, but that doesn’t mean the the country is immune to economic and societal woes. One major challenge facing the nation today is the growing political polarisation between liberal city dwellers and conservative rural dwellers.
This division has manifested itself in several ways, including in the way Americans vote. While some of this could be attributed to demographics, a changing society has also played a role. The emergence of social media as well as American news outlets has contributed to increased political engagement among citizens – and it shows in elections.
Political polarization in America isn’t restricted to one party or ideology – it affects every level of society from left-leaning urban areas to conservative rural communities. Though there are many factors contributing to this widening gap between left-wing and right-wing Americans, here we’ll explore some of the primary ones.
Social media and political engagement
As people grow increasingly attached to their phones and laptops, the way they interact with the world around them changes. Social media has played a significant role in driving this shift, both in its impact on political engagement and civic life. Social media may have emerged in the 2000s, but its impact ramped up in the 2010s. As the platform continued to rapidly evolve and its reach expanded, social media became a key channel for political engagement.
This is particularly true in urban areas – where a large chunk of the population lives – with many also turning to it for news and information. With the help of social media, users can quickly organize rallies, share opinions, and create activist groups. This has also led to the emergence of new political ideologies and activism – many of which have found a receptive audience among the younger generation.
A changing society
The United States is by no means the only country experiencing significant political polarisation – indeed, it is just one of many nations facing the same issue. But its society is perhaps one of the most polarised – especially when it comes to politics. As the country’s demographics continue to change, so does its social makeup.
Social media has made it easier to track and understand these changes. One example is the rise of liberal ideology in urban areas – particularly among the younger demographic. Another example is the gradual rise in economic inequality – as blue-collar jobs have been replaced by white-collar ones, rural areas have become increasingly economically anxious.
Economic inequality and anxiety over job security
Widening economic inequality has become a major issue for many Americans. While the middle class is feeling anxious about job security, the country’s upper class is experiencing a new level of wealth. This has sparked resentment and anxiety among the lower class.
The issue of job security has also played an important role in the political polarisation in the US. Several blue-collar jobs have been replaced by automation or service industry jobs, leading to anxiety over job security among many rural Americans. This anxiety is also apparent among white-collar workers in urban centers, as many service industry jobs are also becoming more automated.
Rising crime rates
Another challenge facing the country is growing crime rates. Many fear that their children might be the next victim of a violent crime – and the threat is particularly strong among the country’s youth.
Recent studies have found that crime rates among this demographic have risen significantly in recent years. This has also led to a rise in fear among parents and a push for more security measures in schools.
Democratic party shift
Like many other Western countries, the Democratic party has been losing support among American voters. But the shift in party affiliation has been particularly noticeable among rural Americans, who have been shifting towards the Republican party.
This could be attributed to the growing economic inequality and anxiety over job security – many rural Americans see the Democratic party as a Party of the elites.