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why are we so divided?

country

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I remember a time when we were not a divided nation. We had our disagreements, but they were for the most part, civil. Today we are anything but civil. What changed? Here is my opinion, Some of you may have thought of this or have your own opinions.
In the 1980's we had the three networks and newspapers for our news. Folks were dependent on these. Conservatives were a silent majority. Then came talk radio and the internet. Conservatives now had a way to voice their opinions and to interact with other conservatives. Suddenly the networks had to compete with talk radio and the internet, and conservatives discovered we were being fed only the news that the mostly liberal networks wanted us to hear. Now when we hear a slanted story in the news we challenge it with information we get from talk radio, the internet and now, fox news.
Sorry to ramble on, but sometimes it takes me a while to put thoughts into words
 

liblady

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I remember a time when we were not a divided nation. We had our disagreements, but they were for the most part, civil. Today we are anything but civil. What changed? Here is my opinion, Some of you may have thought of this or have your own opinions.
In the 1980's we had the three networks and newspapers for our news. Folks were dependent on these. Conservatives were a silent majority. Then came talk radio and the internet. Conservatives now had a way to voice their opinions and to interact with other conservatives. Suddenly the networks had to compete with talk radio and the internet, and conservatives discovered we were being fed only the news that the mostly liberal networks wanted us to hear. Now when we hear a slanted story in the news we challenge it with information we get from talk radio, the internet and now, fox news.
Sorry to ramble on, but sometimes it takes me a while to put thoughts into words
i'm sorry, are you saying fox news and talk radio is not slanted? seriously?
 

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''I remember a time when we were not a divided nation. We had our disagreements, but they were for the most part, civil. Today we are anything but civil. What changed? ''

I think, more and more people are becomming educated and informed, so more have something(s) to say.
 

liblady

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''I remember a time when we were not a divided nation. We had our disagreements, but they were for the most part, civil. Today we are anything but civil. What changed? ''

I think, more and more people are becomming educated and informed, so more have something(s) to say.
actually, i think more and more people are becoming "sound bite" informed, not really informed.

for example......recent feedback from citizens on a prosposal to allow an OPTION of annuties through a 401k plan brought mostly comments about the gov't taking people's money. now where would you suppose they got that idea?
 

country

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''I remember a time when we were not a divided nation. We had our disagreements, but they were for the most part, civil. Today we are anything but civil. What changed? ''

I think, more and more people are becomming educated and informed, so more have something(s) to say.

You put it way better than I did. thanks
 

Mell

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''actually, i think more and more people are becoming "sound bite" informed, not really informed.''

People have the free choice about what information they will take on board. I do see what you mean though. Not everybody with something to say, puts the effort into reading enough about the topic.

One thing I am often surprised about, is the number of people who wont discuss certain subjects. I call it politics phobia. But, it seems that although people are getting more informed in general, not many have made an effort to develop the communication skills necessary to have a political discussion. Thus, we who are interested in this topics get banished to political sites, to have our 'nasty' discussions.
 

Areopagitican

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We are more divided because we are more prosperous. We have access to more information, and have a plethora of ways to disseminate it; in each instance more than we ever had before.

I believe the actual feeling of divisivness has been around for a long, long time--same with staunch, unwielding opinons. It is, however, the first time people are able to effectively rub shoulders physically--even if they come from very distinct backgrounds.
 
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''actually, i think more and more people are becoming "sound bite" informed, not really informed.''

People have the free choice about what information they will take on board. I do see what you mean though. Not everybody with something to say, puts the effort into reading enough about the topic.

One thing I am often surprised about, is the number of people who wont discuss certain subjects. I call it politics phobia. But, it seems that although people are getting more informed in general, not many have made an effort to develop the communication skills necessary to have a political discussion. Thus, we who are interested in this topics get banished to political sites, to have our 'nasty' discussions.

Yes, there is a lot more information available nowadays than there was in the past. This does not mean people know how to use information. I think this is perhaps a large contribution to why opinion programming is so popular because people lack the critical thinking skills necessary to interpret information and generate consistent opinions based on fundamental ideological goals (in fact, I would say a very small minority of the people on this forum have this capability). When the OP references talk radio and fox news as new media that have 'awoken' this silent conservative majority, I am afraid that these two media are far from making anyone particularly self-aware politically speaking. E.g. if working class ownership of the means of production is not worth discussion for the mainstream media, it is not going to be considered by the typical viewers/listeners.
 

snbl11225

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I don't think it's the fact that there are more diversity or venues. I think it's the tone and they have become more ratings oriented vs information driven. Facts mean little any more. It's about intensity. Why would we be surprised at the resultsl
 

tacomancer

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We are more divided because we are more prosperous. We have access to more information, and have a plethora of ways to disseminate it; in each instance more than we ever had before.

I believe the actual feeling of divisivness has been around for a long, long time--same with staunch, unwielding opinons. It is, however, the first time people are able to effectively rub shoulders physically--even if they come from very distinct backgrounds.

Pretty much. We are divided because we have the luxury to be divided.
 

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What it comes down to is *why* people voice their thoughts differently, or more openly - and why there's less concern for what other's think of what you have to say.

I think the anonymity of the internet has permitted people to speak their mind and share their thoughts. People grew balls, instead of your immediate neighborhood being your support - your extended online friend network has become your support.

Thus, people aren't being ostracized when they don't agree with Susan and Sam, they have their friends Susan101 and SamEaglEye in their online world to back them up and support them.
 

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Yes, there is a lot more information available nowadays than there was in the past. This does not mean people know how to use information. I think this is perhaps a large contribution to why opinion programming is so popular ...

I think, there will always be a majority of followers, with a few leaders, and then those who are essentially born before their time so many are not capable of understanding their ideas.

All kinds of information is available, but people cant be forced to look at it. Maybe feeding them some of it via popular media in selected bite sized pieces is a bad thing, or maybe not.

Also, maybe there are more than you think, who are able to interpret available information, but they tend to be selective about what they say, to avoid being shouted at on internet forums. That is a real problem, where political discussions are concerned.
 

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I would argue that we're largely divided, more than anything, because we have lost sight of the greatest purposes for which we were in society.

We get so caught up in things and jealousy over them that we forget that the society is not about things, it is about the people and their interactions.

There are also political advantages in keeping the nation highly fractured. When people are bickering more about abortion than about the overfull prisons, little gets done about things that make our politicians money.

We get so caught up in the factions, and the beliefs about the factions that we'd rather vote democrat or republican without regard for what they actually do... party loyalty at its finest.

We gloss over things in our own parties, and exaggerate the other one... meanwhile not recognizing what our parties are doing in our 'interests'.

We choose to remove the rights of others, without seeing that our own are thus threatened.

We make choices for our own personal advantage in laws, to the detriment of others.

We forget that others also can make laws to our own detriment.

We often believe in the paternal guiding hand so much that we do not make our own choices.

We allow our government to teach us not to think, not to study, not to question, then wonder why we don't think, study, or question.

We accept the sound bytes as truth, and things that we don't want to hear: TL;DR.

Meanwhile we are in society for our mutual interests, such as putting food on the table, maintaining the property in our own lives, and preserving the right to choose outside of the things that would take those things away.

We allow people to talk about how we are downtrodden, but very rarely about how we may become more. We love harping on our differences, but not our similarities. We assign evil to those different from ourselves, and somehow ignore the same qualities in ourselves.

We dwell upon revenge for a wrong, rather than correction, upon the past harms rather than finding means of reconciliation, and split ourselves apart on the reef of ideas, rather than exploring them to find the places we can support each other, and lead each other to safer shores.

We spend more time arguing than convincing, more time lecturing than teaching, and more time being 'right' than learning.

And meanwhile those that would take advantage of one party's fracture against another do, and prepare new fractures for when that set of funds wears out.
 

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Fear and uncertainty divide us.

If the economy was roaring and unemployment numbers were low, budgets were balanced, deficits were managable, and no wars were being waged, few would give a rats ass what their neighbors think, or what the idiots in Washington are doing.
 
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Barbbtx

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I feel we are more divided now than in any other time in my life. (I'm 54)
In my opinion it's because of this administration. Specifically, the arrogance of this administration. They refuse to listen to the American people. It is no longer a government by and for the people. It's a government of far left thinkers when America as a whole is center right.
People are afraid and are waking up and getting envolved. That's the only way we'll be able to save the country from turning into Greece.
 

Mell

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Fear and uncertainty divide us.

If the economy was roaring and unemployment numbers were low, budgets were balanced, deficits were managable, and no wars were being waged, few would give a rats ass what their neighbors think, or what the idiots in Washington are doing.

I think this is a definate point, for consideration. There is always more civil unrest when there are economic problems. But, this is civil unrest, rather than just verbal opinion giving about various topics.

I think, one reason people these days say more in some countries, is because it is safe to do so. They dont get thrown in prison and tortured for expressing opinions.
 

niftydrifty

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The nation gets portrayed as being politically divided, because sensationalism sells. The reality is somewhat different. The only "silent majority" are those that are apathetic. In many elections those that stay home outnumber those that vote for the winner. And moderates outnumber either "liberals" or "conservatives."
 

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America's New Culture War

This is not the culture war of the 1990s. It is not a fight over guns, gays or abortion. Those old battles have been eclipsed by a new struggle between two competing visions of the country's future. In one, America will continue to be an exceptional nation organized around the principles of free enterprise -- limited government, a reliance on entrepreneurship and rewards determined by market forces. In the other, America will move toward European-style statism grounded in expanding bureaucracies, a managed economy and large-scale income redistribution. These visions are not reconcilable. We must choose...

I call this a culture war because free enterprise has been integral to American culture from the beginning, and it still lies at the core of our history and character. "A wise and frugal government," Thomas Jefferson declared in his first inaugural address in 1801, "which shall restrain men from injuring one another, shall leave them otherwise free to regulate their own pursuits of industry and improvement, and shall not take from the mouth of labor the bread it has earned. This is the sum of good government." He later warned: "To take from one, because it is thought that his own industry and that of his fathers has acquired too much, in order to spare to others, who, or whose fathers, have not exercised equal industry and skill, is to violate arbitrarily the first principle of association, the guarantee to every one of a free exercise of his industry and the fruits acquired by it." In other words, beware government's economic control, and woe betide the redistributors...

The irony is that, by wide margins, Americans support free enterprise. A Gallup poll in January found that 86 percent of Americans have a positive image of "free enterprise," with only 10 percent viewing it negatively. Similarly, in March 2009, the Pew Research Center asked individuals from a broad range of demographic groups: "Generally, do you think people are better off in a free-market economy, even though there may be severe ups and downs from time to time, or don't you think so?" Almost 70 percent of respondents agreed that they are better off in a free-market economy, while only 20 percent disagreed.

In fact, no matter how the issue is posed, not more than 30 percent of Americans say they believe we would fare better without free markets at the core of our system. When it comes to support for free enterprise, we are essentially a 70-30 nation.

So here's a puzzle: If we love free enterprise so much, why are the 30 percent who want to change that culture in charge?

It's not simply because of the election of Obama. As much as Republicans may dislike hearing it, statism had effectively taken hold in Washington long before that.

The George W. Bush administration began the huge Wall Street and Detroit bailouts, and for years before the economic crisis, the GOP talked about free enterprise while simultaneously expanding the government with borrowed money and increasing the percentage of citizens with no income tax liability. The 30 percent coalition did not start governing this country with the advent of Obama, Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid. It has been in charge for years...

The new statism in America, made possible by years of drift and accelerated by the panic over the economic crisis, threatens to make us permanently poorer. But that is not the greatest danger. The real risk is that in the new culture war, we will forsake the third unalienable right set out in our Declaration of Independence: the pursuit of happiness.

Free enterprise brings happiness; redistribution does not. The reason is that only free enterprise brings earned success.

Earned success involves the ability to create value honestly -- not by inheriting a fortune, not by picking up a welfare check. It doesn't mean making money in and of itself. Earned success is the creation of value in our lives or in the lives of others. Earned success is the stuff of entrepreneurs who seek value through innovation, hard work and passion. Earned success is what parents feel when their children do wonderful things, what social innovators feel when they change lives, what artists feel when they create something of beauty.

Money is not the same as earned success but is rather a symbol, important not for what it can buy but for what it says about how people are contributing and what kind of difference they are making. Money corresponds to happiness only through earned success. Not surprisingly, unearned money -- while it may help alleviate suffering -- carries with it no personal satisfaction. Studies of lottery winners, for instance, show that after a brief period of increased happiness, their moods darken as they no longer derive the same enjoyment from the simple pleasures in life, and as the glow of buying things wears off.

The same results emerge with other kinds of unearned income -- welfare payments, for example. According to the University of Michigan's 2001 Panel Study of Income Dynamics, going on the welfare rolls increases by 16 percent the likelihood of a person saying that she or he has felt inconsolably sad over the past month. Of course, the misery of welfare recipients probably goes well beyond the check itself. Nonetheless, studies show that recipients are far unhappier than equally poor people who do not receive such government benefits...

To win the culture war, those of us in the 70 percent majority must reclaim -- and proclaim -- the morality of our worldview.

Unfortunately, we often fail to do this. Instead, we sound unabashedly materialistic. We talk about growth rates, inflation and investment, while the 30 percent coalition walks off with the claims to happiness and fairness. (According to Obama, for example, we need to restore "fairness" to our tax code by increasing taxes on the wealthy and exempting more people at the bottom from paying anything.)

The irony is that it is the 30 percent coalition, not the 70 percent majority, that is fundamentally materialistic. What do they consider the greatest problem of poor people in America? Insufficient income. What would be evidence of a fairer society? Greater income equality. For the leaders of the 30 percent coalition, money does buy happiness -- as long as it is spread evenly. That is why redistribution of income is a fundamental goal and why free enterprise, which rewards some people and penalizes others, cannot be trusted.

The 70 percent majority, meanwhile, believes that ingenuity and hard work should be rewarded. We admire creative entrepreneurs and disdain rule-making bureaucrats. We know that income inequality by itself is not what makes people unhappy, and that only earned success can make them happy...

Brown's victory -- and Rand Paul's triumph in Kentucky's Republican Senate primary last week, for that matter -- are but warning shots in the burgeoning culture war. The most intense battles are still ahead.

To win, the 70 percent majority must come together around core principles: that the purpose of free enterprise is human flourishing, not materialism; that we stand for equality of opportunity, not equality of income; that we seek to stimulate true prosperity rather than simply treat poverty; and that we believe in principle over power..
 

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Why are we so divided. Because we have a lot of people listening to a few people who want us to do what they want us to do, even though it has nothing to do with American interests.

Time to pull back. Regroup. Reflect.
 
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I think, there will always be a majority of followers, with a few leaders, and then those who are essentially born before their time so many are not capable of understanding their ideas.

Cheers.

All kinds of information is available, but people cant be forced to look at it. Maybe feeding them some of it via popular media in selected bite sized pieces is a bad thing, or maybe not.

It really depends on how its done. It is easy for bits of information to be manipulated once they are extracted from context. Even then, I don't know how many times I have watched clips where a narrator will accuse a politician of some scandalous deed followed by a source clip that does not back up that claim. Even when bits of information are introduced in a fairly reasonable manner, there is often a lack of breadth.

Also, maybe there are more than you think, who are able to interpret available information, but they tend to be selective about what they say, to avoid being shouted at on internet forums. That is a real problem, where political discussions are concerned.

Yes, it does require some confidence. But the type of thought that is required to develop theories in general is lacking. To be a theorist, one ought to be capable of abstraction in particular. In terms of politics, one ought to be able to develop consistent conclusions from subjective ideological goals (and be able to recognize subjectivity thereof). When I look at the threads on this website, the most popular ones are of ridiculous current events that tend to have little bearing on what matters and the responses are typical talking points. I see little critical thought and I doubt it is just a case of people not taking advantage of the anonymity of the internet.
 

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From cpwill's post:
I call this a culture war because free enterprise has been integral to American culture from the beginning, and it still lies at the core of our history and character. "A wise and frugal government," Thomas Jefferson declared in his first inaugural address in 1801, "which shall restrain men from injuring one another, shall leave them otherwise free to regulate their own pursuits of industry and improvement, and shall not take from the mouth of labor the bread it has earned. This is the sum of good government." He later warned: "To take from one, because it is thought that his own industry and that of his fathers has acquired too much, in order to spare to others, who, or whose fathers, have not exercised equal industry and skill, is to violate arbitrarily the first principle of association, the guarantee to every one of a free exercise of his industry and the fruits acquired by it." In other words, beware government's economic control, and woe betide the redistributors...

To me, that is the basis of the problem. It's a divide between those who are paying the bills and those who are on the receiving end or those who support this type of governance.
 
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I feel we are more divided now than in any other time in my life. (I'm 54)
In my opinion it's because of this administration. Specifically, the arrogance of this administration. They refuse to listen to the American people. It is no longer a government by and for the people. It's a government of far left thinkers when America as a whole is center right.

"Specifically, the arrogance of this administration" is not particularly specific. How is this administration less attentive than past administrations? Out of curiosity, where do you go when you look for information (relevant to politics, that is)? It isn't Glenn, is it?!?

I will let you know first off that I am distinctly left. I am not quite an anarchist, but I have a lot of agreement with libertarian socialists. Given this, I can tell you there is nothing far left about this administration. If anything, they are centrist to slightly center-left (the basis of the one-dimensional political spectrum is attitudes about equality; indeed, equality and freedom make up a false dichotomy). Tell me, who exactly is talking about working class ownership of the means of production (not state owned, mind you)? Who is talking about replacing capitalism altogether with a system of exchange that liberates labor (not further government participation in capitalism)?

People are afraid and are waking up and getting envolved. That's the only way we'll be able to save the country from turning into Greece.

I disagree. People are a long way from waking up. Only once people obtain critical thinking skills in conjunction with the possibilities of modern media will they have 'awoken' so to speak. Honestly, I cannot remember how many times I have seen video taken of people at rallies saying that they have become politically active for the first time after watching a little opinion programming. In my opinion, they are just as bad as before if not worse because now they are about to go to the polls (pragmatically speaking).
 
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Fiddytree

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I think you are falling into the trap of seeing history as nostalgia and propping up the crisis of the present.
 

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''Specifically, the arrogance of this administration. They refuse to listen to the American people.''

The American people voted this administration in.
 
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