Contributed by: Kate Reidinger
Political polarisation in the United States has become further divided in the 21st century. The country is split into two political parties, the radical left and the radical right, leaving room for independent individuals in the middle who do not identify themselves with a particular political party. The political parties in the U.S are the liberal democrats and the conservative republicans. Both parties have different ideologies, the liberal democrats swing to the left whereas the conservative republicans swing to the right on the political spectrum. The political polarisation of the U.S is currently undetermined. Still, the gap between conservatives and liberals is growing and is affecting political progression in the States. However, the presidential elections in November will soon provide a clear insight as to where the U.S stands with their ideologies; with whether they vote for the Republican candidate, Donald Trump or the Democratic candidate, Hilary Clinton.
In 1994, different political views were distributed within the U.S. There were the liberal views, the conservative views, and the mixed views, 49% of Americans had mixed political views. However, statistics from 2014 show that the percentage of Americans with mixed views have decreased, being at only 39% in 2014 with the percentage continuing to decrease. According to BBC news, in 2014 27% of the U.S population was democratic, and 36% of the population was republican. These statistics from 1997 and 2014 show the difference in political views and how they have changed. It is clear that the U.S has become increasingly divided in their politics and views. The opposing political parties see each other as threats to the nation’s well-being and both believe that their own system is the right system for the nation to prosper. This is disadvantageous for the U.S government and nation as the country is unable to progress and make major decisions for the country to improve.
The U.S had been politically, economically and socially unified during the Cold War to take a strong stand against the Soviet Union (USSR). However, over the last decade, the political polarisation in the U.S has been consistently changing and there has been a huge cultural and social divide. In 1990, after the fall of the Soviet Union the U.S economy was doing well. However, after the terrorist attack on the twin towers on September 11th of 2001, the nation’s political and economical state went downhill due to the extreme reaction to the Al-Qaeda threat. George Bush, who was a republican president from 2001 to 2009, did not deal with the attack well and responded in a rash manner by starting wars, two wars. One of the wars he started was the war with Iraq, which was an unnecessary war started for no logical reason, that caused further problems. The U.S government under the presidency of Bush, claimed that the dictator of Iraq (Saddam Hussein) was supporting the Al-Qaeda and the attack on the twin towers, and were accused of being in possession of chemical weapons – neither of which they could prove were true. Furthermore, the U.S government arrested Saddam Hussein and handed him over to the new Iraqi government who eventually executed him. However, the new Iraqi government was weak and could not maintain or control the people in Iraq. Due to the poor government and system of control there had been a huge surge in Iraq and islamist extremists emerged, creating an islamic state. Though, if the republican president had not chosen to invade Iraq, the consequences would have been different and the formation of the extreme islamic state could have been avoided.
The U.S government consists of three branches; those of which are the executive, legislative, and judicial. The executive branch consists of the president, the legislative branch is the congress which consists of the senate and the house of representatives, and the judicial branch consists of the Supreme Court and lower courts. Throughout the years, political polarisation within these different branches have been changing. With Obama’s implementation of Obama care, the republicans fought against the democratic president Obama in the 2010 election. The republicans then took over the house of representatives, however, the democrats still kept the Senate from 2010 to 2014. However, by 2014 to today, the republicans have control of the congress; meaning, the house of representatives and the senate. Due to this, current political polarisation within the U.S can be considered to be more to the right. Judicial polarisation and appointment of the supreme court of justice has been halted because of the intense political division and the lack of compromise between republicans and democrats. Thus, the 3rd branch of the U.S government is not functioning properly.
Polarisation is difficult to determine, though states and cities are still making progress, moving in different political directions – the country as a whole is not. However, the upcoming presidential elections on November 8th (2016) will assist the nation with its political decisions and determination of polarisation. There are in total five presidential candidates, though the race is between the republican candidate Donald Trump and the democratic candidate Hillary Clinton.