We all know polarization in Washington D.C. is bad, but how much of a role does polarization play in everyday life? According to a new study from the Pew Research Center entitled “Political Polarization in the American Public,” self-identified liberals and conservatives prefer to associate and live near fellow partisans. Moreover, partisans deeply distrust people from the other side of the aisle. On radio this morning, Glenn expressed his concerns about the results.
“Liberals and conservatives prefer to associate with and live near their fellow partisans. I know, I moved to Texas. They would be unhappy if their children married someone with a different political viewpoint,” Glenn said. “The result isn’t just polarized politics, but a divided society where liberals and conservatives are increasingly kept apart. A nation divided against itself cannot stand.”
The Pew study is based on a survey of 10,013 Americans, and, as Pew explains, the results demonstrate “the level of antipathy that members of each party feel toward the opposing party has surged over the past two decades.”
In keeping with that theme, the study finds that a third of all Republicans and Republican-leaning independents believes Democrats pose a threat to the nation’s well being. Meanwhile, more than a quarter of all Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents view Republicans the same way.
“I can’t believe those numbers are that low, quite honestly,” Glenn said. “I put both of them in that category. I put the Republicans and the Democrats as a threat to this country. Neither of the parties are protecting the Constitution. Neither one.”
The statistics Pew produced in regards to the correlation between living preferences and partisanship are particularly interesting.
According to the poll, 23% of “consistent liberals” would be unhappy if an immediate family member married a conservative. Likewise, 30% of “consistent conservatives” would be unhappy if a close relative married a Democrat.
When it comes to communities, 28% of Americans believe it is important to live in a place where most people share their political views – with conservatives favoring homogeneity more than liberals. In regards to associating with friends and acquaintances who share the same political views, 35% of Americans believe it to be important.
“It makes sense to hang out with people that are like you. This forced diversity thing is ridiculous. People naturally congregate with people they are comfortable with,” Glenn said. “But we should challenge ourselves to open up our minds. We should change ourselves, but only in this way: I’m not going to be friends with Harry Reid. But I’m not going to be friends with John Boehner either because I think both of them are dirt bags.”
Ultimately, Glenn believes content of character – not politics – should be the determining factor when it comes to whom we choose to associate with.
“The thing that I unite on: Are you a decent person? Do you have integrity? When you see the truth, will you move around that truth,” Glenn asked. “All I care about is the truth, honor, and integrity. If that’s you, then we need to talk. We need to stand side-by-side. If you are about politics, I think you’re part of the problem.”
See the full Pew Research poll results HERE.