The words “political divide” have become part of our national lexicon. Until a few years ago, you didn’t hear the phrase too often, but now it joins other ubiquitous expressions that we never wanted to know, like “cryptocurrency fraud” or “celebrity YouTuber.”
In any case, our political divide has never been wider. And I’m not just talking about philosophies.
Yes, one side wants to make it easier for people to get health care and attend college. The other side wants to destroy democracy and create a Christian nationalist dystopia.
So you see the subtle differences.
But even putting ideals and values aside, we see that the Democratic Party is a multiracial college kid skateboarding through the big city. The Republican Party is an old white man standing in a cornfield complaining that somebody, somewhere, is gay.
Just how different are the demographics of the two parties?
Well, for starters, the racial gap is vast. In the last presidential election, over 80 percent of Trump voters were white. In contrast, about 70 percent of ethnic minorities voted for Biden. Despite what the GOP says about its marginally improved status among Latinos and Asians, it is “very much still the case that the Republicans are an overwhelmingly white party and that the Democratic coalition is much more racially diverse.”
Furthermore, a “shrinking white share of the population is a hallmark of the congressional districts” that elect hardcore MAGA representatives. This is an undeniable “pattern political scientists say shows how white fear of losing status” helps keep Republicans in power.
OK, what about generational differences?
Some studies show that young people are twice as likely to vote Democrat, which is a statistic that is “strikingly at odds with older generations, among whom the two parties have been roughly at parity over the last decade.”
And don’t go thinking that young people will get more conservative as they age. That idea has always been overblown.
In the case of Millennial and Gen Z voters, “it’s hard to look at the generational data and not see long-term disaster for Republicans.” Young people’s “beliefs in diversity, equality and social justice are likely to guide them for decades.” Twentysomethings are not the ones lashing out at “woke” ideas.
Even conservatives admit that when it comes to Republicans, “young adults hate them.” The only subgroup of young Americans “among whom Republicans have the edge are rural residents, who make up fewer than one in five young people.”
This brings up the urban-rural divide between the parties.
We all know that cities vote blue and small towns vote red. But it’s worse than you think.
For example, Biden won 91 of the nation’s 100 largest counties, yet “he won the fewest counties of any presidential winner” because Trump triumphed in virtually every rural area. The result “reflected the fact that Democrats are thriving in major metropolitan areas, but tanking elsewhere.”
Democrats have basically given up even trying to win votes in rural areas.
And rural residents have basically given up on reality.
You see, rural people living in depressed towns in downtrodden states have come up with a creative way to justify their poor decisions, bad planning, and self-sabotaging policies: by saying that it’s all the fault of those urban liberals. What progressives ever did to them—beyond being annoyingly more productive, healthy, and tolerant—remains unclear.
There is “hardly an economic or health indicator by which rural America doesn’t lag,” but this has nothing to do with their values or the way they vote—nope.
Small-town Republicans also insist that liberals are stealing all their money—even if those big-city progressives account for 70 percent of the country’s economic output.
You can see this in the debate over student-loan forgiveness. The GOP argues that its good for America if college grads are pinned under massive debt. Hey, maybe it builds character.
But conservatives aren’t so apocalyptic about big-government programs that benefit rural citizens. For example, “more than 13,000 farm borrowers have received about $800 million in assistance,” and Republicans have strangely not ranted about socialism or giving people handouts.
And speaking of college students, there is a strong correlation “between high levels of educational attainment and social liberalism.” Voters with college degrees are more likely “to support legal abortion, LGBTQ+ causes, the rights of racial minorities, and expansive immigration.” This has led to a massive diploma divide between the two parties.
Well, of course. It’s all those America-hating university professors indoctrinating their students, right?
Actually, “we have some good evidence that attending college directly makes people more culturally liberal.” College students are exposed to different cultures, learn historical facts that their high school skipped, and develop critical thinking skills.
All of this is bad, according to the GOP, because it causes people to stop yelling“USA!” and reconsider whether white straight men should be in charge of everything.
So Republicans have denigrated higher education and even tried to kill it in places. Conservatives proclaim their love for the uneducated and demonize grade-school teachers and college professors alike.
That, in turn, further exacerbates the gender gap between the two parties. Women are now more likely to earn a college degree than men. And women are already more likely to vote for Democrats, a trend that will likely accelerate as they become more educated.
Finally, there is the fact that Republicans are far more Christian than the hodgepodge of religions and contingent of nonbelievers that make up the Democratic Party. It’s no wonder, therefore, that white evangelical Christians are one of the most reliably Republican groups in the country.
So we again have to ask the most important question in American politics: How much longer will young, socially liberal, highly educated, multicultural city-dwellers who keep the economy moving, agree to be bossed around by old, intolerant, uneducated, hyper-Christian white guys living in the middle of nowhere?
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