Public Agenda
Commentary

A Divided Nation?

Will Friedman, Ph.D.

Reprinted from The New York Times - June 22, 2014

To the Editor:

Re “Dangerous Divisiveness,” by Charles M. Blow (column, June 16):

While the uptick in partisanship documented by the Pew Research Center is significant, so is the fact that the vast majority of Americans (almost 8 in every 10) are not ideologically divided.

People become much more willing to compromise when thinking about how to solve real problems in their own communities. There is no reason to panic over an ideological rupture; the sky isn’t falling — yet. Even among Americans who do hold consistently liberal or conservative views, this adherence often falls away quickly.

If our national leaders and the news media continue to emphasize partisan bickering, the upward trend in partisanship could accelerate and harden. This would mean that addressing issues in our communities could become just as difficult as on Capitol Hill.

Those who are working to build common ground among people with political differences should not be dissuaded by this new research. Rather, now more than ever, they should get to work.



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