Indeed, it’s not your imagination that America feels more partisan and divided than ever: it’s supported by polling data going back as far as Franklin Delano Roosevelt, which shows that Trump’s approval rating has hovered in the tightest range of any president, at around 38-45%. Similar to Obama, people’s minds were made up about Trump very early on, along predictable democratic-republican party lines, and have remained fixed for much of the duration of his term despite news and other factors.
The tweet below and excellent article The Strange Phenomenon of Online Follow-Shaming encapsulates the frustrations and anxieties of millennials and gen-z, not only over America’s increasingly precarious social and political climate, but also in rejection to the moral superiority, posturing, and the lack of critical thinking ability by the ‘old’ media, including the left-wing media such as the New York Times, even by other liberals. It may come as a surprise to the New York Times, but following ‘X’ does not mean you agree with or condone all of X’s politics.
threatens the lives of innocents on the daily. You don't have a monopoly on anxiety over the precariousness of life in the modern United States. All you have, right now, is a smug sense of self-righteousness over what is, to anybody with critical thinking abilities
— a paw stamping on a human face forever (@DxGGEAUX) April 9, 2019
Even though @DxGGEAUX is of the ‘left’, many on the_Donald-right can relate, making it a shared narrative.
But, as another example of a shared narrative, many on the ‘smart-right’, which includes the_Donald-right, can also agree with the ‘left’ that ‘boomers’ are out off touch and value mindless consumerism over intellectualism and the inner-monologue, which for many young people plays continuously about topics as varied as economics, politics, physics, and philosophy, but to average-IQ older people, their mind is on the latest TV show, what’s for dinner, or what new car to buy.
— FlorkOfCows (@FlorkOfCows) April 10, 2019
Young people are searching for meaning and understanding an increasingly uncertain and politicized world, not looking for a mortgage and a new car that are paid for with debt. It’s little wonder that someone like Jordan Peterson, who eschews identity politics, consumerism, and ideology and whose simple rules to ‘clean your room’ and ‘stand up straight with your shoulders back’, has resonated with so many many young people, who seek or order, guidance, and structure that society and its increasingly dysfunctional institutions have failed at providing.
This is what the ‘weird twitter’ phenomenon is about, who are the ‘culture jammers’ of today’s generation and are akin to those who in the 80’s and ’90s jammed TV and radio airwaves and plastered ‘OBEY’ stickers everywhere.
And now for the good news, as bad as politics may seem now, America has always been divided along a core set of issues, values, and beliefs. From the post No Coming Realignment:
Alluding to research by Jonathan Haidt, the reason why the debates and divisions don’t change in spite of changing candidates and rhetoric, has to do with fundamental/intrinsic moral values within each individual, that divide the nation into roughly two even halves that remain remarkably constant. Half of the nation is ‘wired’ to support fairness, cooperation, justice, and equality; the other half, wired to support meritocracy, self-sufficiency, duty, and personal responsibility. Second, political institutions have a lot of inertia and don’t change unless there is a major crisis that necessitates or provokes such change.
As anyone who in the ’90s listened to talk radio or watched Fox or CNN can attest, people were culture-warring over Y2K, militia groups and domestic terrorism, abortion, the ‘Gingrich Revolution’, don’t-ask-don’t-tell, Bill Clinton’s school uniform plan, ‘Hillarycare’, and the Kosovo and Persian Gulf wars. Instead of threats of impeachment over Russian collusion, in the ’90s it was over perjury and a blue dress, but the major difference being, Clinton, not Trump, broke the law. Gingrich and Limbaugh were the generals who lead an army of gen-X and boomer soldiers in this culture war against the left, who were lead by the Clintons, with the battle being waged on cable TV, on AM radio, in Congress, and in print in Time, National Review, or Newsweek and in the op-eds of thousands of syndicated and local newspapers all over the country.
The internet has made politics more heated, but there is much more choice and access to different perspectives, whereas in the ’90s one’s choices were mostly limited to talk radio, TV, and newspaper and magazine subscriptions. Major online communities such as Reddit and 4chan are as accurate and informative, if not more so, as major news sources, which is why journalists are increasingly turning to social media and online communities such as Reddit for breaking news, rather than the other way around.