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(133,552 posts)
11. I think part of the issue when doing analysis with comparisons like this
Mon May 23, 2022, 09:01 AM
May 2022

is that when talking about "politics", most of the rest of the world operates under a "Parliamentary" system of government (Mexico being one of the larger exceptions). So when you see a comment like this -

Although I’d seen animosity between left and right in other nations, their hatred never felt so personal or intense as in the U.S.

it behooves that one notes the author missed not only how different the U.S. government operates compared to the rest of the world, but how different the evolution of the U.S. has been from anywhere else in the world.

I.e., the whole rigorous exercise of "forming a government", often cobbled out of a myriad of individual parties, and that includes concepts such as "snap elections", and "standing down" before a current term is completed, diffuses the stark partisan "right/left" divide (outside of the extremists), and forces overt "compromises" when one party is unable to garner enough delegates and support to be "in the majority" in a Parliamentary session.

Meanwhile here, what has generally boiled down to 2 parties - "Democratic" and "Republican", with some scattered independent smaller parties, solidifies our either/or "divide" and requires a different effort that gathers individuals with different viewpoints from across the political spectrum, and invites them to "join" one or the other. And couple this with the fact that we generally have "fixed" terms and "fixed' federal general elections, means that whoever "gets in", "stays in" for their full term (absent resignation, death, or impeachment), and that notably impacts the head of the country - the President (whose title is not "ceremonial" as it is in other countries that have that position).

And the OP article briefly touches on this -

Jennifer McCoy affirmed this, when I asked her about the difference between the United States and other perniciously polarized democracies: “Unlike many other polarized democracies, we are not a tribal country based on ethnicity … The key identity is party, not race or religion.”

Well most of the rest of the world is homogeneous in terms of "race" (as defined by Europeans long ago), so their disputes then turned to "ethnicity". However I would disagree with the assertion that "the key identity is party, not race or religion", because that is pure rose-colored glasses, insular and tunnel-visioned bullshit.

This country is very much "racially", "ethnically", and "religiously" divided and that came about due to the pernicious, persistent, and continued dejure and defacto system of segregation by race, ethnicity, and religion, which meant that you have whole communities (whether rural villages, small towns or urban neighborhoods in cities), who by design or by choice, "live with" others from their own race, ethnicity, or religion.

And eventually, the "fireworks" can occur between these ethnic enclaves.

As an artistic example of this would be "West Side Story", which although was based off of Shakespeare's "Romeo and Juliet", was given a setting and background of "Polish" vs "Puerto Ricans" in terms of the "Jets" vs the "Sharks".

You also have divisions that came about by "region", so even if you have a panopoly of ethnicities in a "region", there are "cultural norms" that those who live in those regions have adopted and any "outsiders" to that "culture" are looked upon with suspicion.

So given these dynamics, the 2 main parties here in essence "take advantage of" and often "exploit" these various "realities" to recruit voters into their fold.

What has definitely amplified this to the point where we are today is the proliferation of "access" through various communications (broadcast and internet) that have "exposed" different parts of a country (and a locale) to each other, and this is where each often insular group, sees the dramatic differences in worldview between themselves and others, and that often leads to a clash.
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