End the duopoly

Will Trump’s Fourth of July speech soften — or sharpen — Americans’ partisan divisions?

Any discussion of U.S. politics — whether in a newspaper, on TV or even on Facebook — quickly turns to our polarized political system. Perhaps somewhat surprisingly, many scholars argue that Americans are not very polarized on the issues, though some scholars do take the opposite position.

But political scientists broadly agree that Democrats and Republicans increasingly dislike and distrust one another, a phenomenon known as affective polarization.

For example, according to the Pew Research Center, roughly half of Americans hold very negative attitudes toward members of the other party, describing them with words like “closed-minded,” “dishonest” and “immoral.”

Partisans also say that the other party makes them feel negative emotions like anger, fear and frustration, and more than 4 in 10 see the other party as a “threat to the nation’s well-being.”

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