Social sorting on the basis of political identity is widening the gap between partisan ideology and deepening our collective divide. And while the pendulum of public opinion always swings from one end of the spectrum to the other, we have never experienced this level of dysfunction before.
But despite my temptation to write an accusatory piece, one that assigns blame to a specific party, I will refrain from such dialogue. Instead, I will address the fallout spawned from this troubling social behavior.
The issue of self-sorting is arguably the greatest obstacle to civil debate and is highly topical among political pundits.
In her book “Uncivil Agreement,” Lilliana Mason discussed the vital role sorting has in shaping our political landscape. She identified the manner in which society is being sorted by social, demographic, and ideological means.
As stated by Mason, “This new alignment has degraded the cross-cutting social ties that once allowed for partisan compromise. This has generated an electorate that is more biased and angry at opponents and more willing to act on that bias and anger.”
The result of this outrage is a mob mentality fueled by parochialism.
In an article published by The Federalist, journalist Brad Todd offered a drastic solution for political gridlock. According to Todd, “The only way to address this cultural disconnect is self-deportation.” Specifically, he called upon all Republicans to leave Washington, D.C. In his view, the lifestyle embedded in our nation’s capital “is disconnected from the nationally dominant GOP electorate.”
Subsequently, conservatives would be wise to flee the liberal city and move to a more likeminded habitat. To be clear, this sentiment is not exclusive to conservative thought. In his book, “The Big Sort,” journalist Bill Bishop noted that liberals demonstrate similar patterns of social separation.
Regardless of one’s political affiliation, the act of self-sorting is detrimental to our populace. When any group isolates themselves from ideas that oppose their belief system, the ability to grasp foreign concepts is lost.
This estrangement creates a corrosive environment that erodes common decency and renders compromise null. Instead of limiting social engagements, we should pursue communal progress. This can be achieved by opening minds and expanding networks.
If this occurs, a return to genial discourse is possible. And perhaps we’ll all get along. But until the increasing rise of tribalism reverts, our social quarantine will remain. And the ethos of our society will be strained.