Since Trump was elected President of the United States in 2016, the topic of great political and social divisions in the United States and the possibility of some form of “civil war” has attracted increasing media and academic attention. Today, Trump, who lost the 2020 election, has refused to admit defeat, and has repeatedly claimed large-scale fraud in the election. His supporters have also held many demonstrations, including “militia” organizations. These people have repeatedly clashed violently with Trump opponents, resulting in death and injury.
In 2017, Foreign Policy magazine conducted a survey to ask security experts and ordinary people about the possibility of a civil war. Although the experts interviewed believe that there is a 30% or 60%, or even 95% chance of civil war, the general public is much more optimistic. Overall, they believe that only 18% of the possibility of war will break out.
However, two years later, the situation became very different. In 2019, a survey by the Georgetown University Institute for Political and Public Service found that most Americans believe that the United States has gone two-thirds of the road to the brink of the Civil War due to the worsening political, racial and class divisions.
The smell of gunpowder in American society is getting stronger and stronger. Disputes between different forces and even conflicts have intensified in four years of Trump’s administration. The most famous of these conflicts is the conflict caused by far-right demonstrations in Charlottesville, Virginia: in May 2017, Charlottesville decided to remove a Robert Lee. Memorial statue of the general. During the Civil War, General Lee was loyal to the Confederacy and opposed abolitionism. The city council and pro-demolitioners believe that its image is related to racism. On the evening of August 11, thousands of white racists gathered in the city for a rally called “Unite the Right”. They raised torches and shouted slogans similar to Nazi Germany’s “blood and earth” and “one nation, one country, end immigration”. On August 12, the demonstration turned violent, killing one person and injuring many others.
It is in the context of the increasing frequency of such incidents that business people are also disturbed by the atmosphere of “civil war” in the American political field. On October 9, 2019, Steve Schwarzman, co-founder and CEO of Blackstone Group, admitted in an interview with Bloomberg. For the sake of the current political situation in the United States, which is almost as intense and polarized as before the Civil War, the “hostile nature” of today’s political debate is reminiscent of the situation in the 1850s.
How far is the polarization of American society now? What is the relationship between the “ethnic divisions” that are taking place in the past decades in the United States? Where will the United States go in the future?
Political polarization began in the 1970s
The political system of the United States is a relatively solid two-party system. Republicans and Democrats monopolized American politics for a long time after the Civil War. At the beginning of its establishment, the Republican Party was more representative of the interests of the industrial and commercially developed areas of the North. On the eve of the Civil War, it took a liberal stand and opposed the expansion of slavery. President Lincoln, a Republican, led the abolitionist struggle and the war against the division of the southern states. The Democratic Party initially represented the interests of the southern states and advocated the preservation of slavery.
Since the beginning of the 20th century, bipartisan ideology has quietly changed. President Roosevelt, a Republican-born old man, implemented a resource protection policy, promoted fair trade programs, and reconciled class conflicts. Democratic presidents such as Wilson and Roosevelt Jr. pushed for a series of socio-political reforms. Among them, Roosevelt Jr.’s New Deal had a far-reaching impact on the post-World War II United States and became an important criterion for dividing the American political camp – liberals who supported or generally supported Roosevelt’s New Deal, and the whole opposed Ross. Conservatives are the ones in the Fuxin Deal.
At that time, the ideology within the two parties was relatively complicated. There were conservatives within the liberal Democratic Party, and even formed conservative alliances with conservatives in the Republican Party, and there were also liberals in the Republican Party who supported most of the New Deal measures.
However, since the 1970s. The ideology of the two parties is basically stereotyped, and the fundamental plate has changed: the Democratic Party has completely transformed into a liberal party, economic policy tends to establish a social security system and carry out the necessary intervention in the economy, voters are mainly located in economically developed areas on the east and west coasts, while the Republican Party has become completely conservative. The righteous party, whose voters are mainly in the central and southern states, advocates laissez-faire and small government in economic policy, adheres to traditional positions in morality, and has a close relationship with Christian evangelicals.
After the elimination of “murmurs” within the two parties, the trend of political polarization in the United States began to strengthen: the trend of polarization first appeared in the era of former President Clinton, whose extramarital affair intensified the differences between Democratic and Republican voters; in the era of former President George W. Bush, voters of both parties further Li; when former President Obama was in power, the focus of the differences between voters of the two parties was universal health insurance; after Trump was elected president in 2016, the Republican Party seemed to gradually become the “Trump Party”, and the phenomenon of political polarization became more and more obvious.
Political polarization: the gap between the two parties and voters is getting wider.
The political polarization of the United States is manifested in many aspects. The first and fore reason is that the gap between the political values of the two parties is getting wider and wider. As can be seen from Table 1, from 1994 to 2017, more Republicans tended to be more conservative than the Democratic centrist, and more and more Democrats were more liberal than the Republican centrist. This shows that the intersection of political values between the two parties is getting smaller and smaller, and it has evolved in two extreme directions of liberalism and conservatism.
The author is based on the Pew Research Center’s “The Partisan Divide on Political Values Grows Even Wider”
Secondly, the difference between the two parties in the face of major social and political problems is getting wider and wider. As can be seen from Table 2, the gap between voters of both parties on issues such as social security, racial discrimination and immigration from 1994 to 2017.
The author is based on the Pew Research Center’s “The Partisan Divide on Political Values Grows Even Wider”
Thirdly, voters from both parties are still hostile to each other. On October 29, 2018, the American Institute of Public Religion published the title “Partisan Polarization Dominates Trump Era: Findings from th e 2018 American Values Survey) a report. According to the report, voters from both parties are highly unfavorable to the opposing camp, 90% of Democratic voters have a negative view of the Republican Party, and 87% of Republican voters are disgusted with the Democratic Party. The survey found that 82% of Republican voters have a positive view of President Trump, but 79% of Democratic voters have a negative view of President Trump.
It is precisely because of the fundamental political conflict in the United States that the fundamentals of the two parties in the United States have become increasingly irreparable, which further triggers political polarization – that is, although democracy and republican parties have become more consistent, the two parties are separated rather than convergent, and ideological and policies have become more aligned. Stand up. In Chinese political terms, it means that the contradictions within the people change to the direction of contradictions between the enemy and ourselves. It is against the background of increasing political polarization that political violence and civil war concerns are becoming more and more serious.
As for the root of political polarization, it is that the United States is emerging “national division”, which has torn a deep rift between the United States, and the United States presents two highly different and even opposing sectors, the “liberal America” that supports the Democratic Party and the “conservative America” and the Republican Party.
The formation and impact of “national division”
“National division” is the result of a series of social changes in the United States since the 1970s, with profound economic roots and international background. The economic structure of the United States has undergone profound changes in the process of globalization, thus dividing American society into “liberal America” and “conservative America”. And the demographic changes in the United States over the past decades have exacerbated this opposition.
After the end of World War II, the United States was the world’s largest industrial country and the largest trade surplus. From 1948 to 1966, the United States was the world’s largest trade surplus. With the rise of German and Japanese industries, Germany surpassed the United States in 1967 to become the world’s largest trade surplus. Since 1976, the United States has become the world’s largest trade deficit.
After China’s accession to the WTO in 2001, thanks to market-oriented reform and globalization, GDP has grown rapidly, surpassing Germany and Japan, Europe’s largest countries, to become the world’s second largest economy. Since 2010, China has become the world’s largest industrial country. In 2018, China’s manufacturing added value accounted for 28% of the world, which is equivalent to the combined United States, Japan and Germany.
It was in the process of deepening globalization in the second half of the 20th century that American manufacturing also gradually shifted outward, and jobs continued to decline. It did not rebound until after 2010. In 1980, there were nearly 20 million manufacturing jobs in the United States. After the 2008 financial crisis, this number fell to 12 million. Between 2000 and 2010, manufacturing jobs in the United States decreased by 5.7 million.
After 2010, despite the addition of manufacturing jobs in the United States, they are far from reaching the highest level. The loss of manufacturing jobs has had a huge impact on the manufacturing of the Midwest of the United States, including Ohio, Indiana, Michigan, Illinois, Wisconsin, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Minnesota, Nebraska, North Dakota and South Dakota. For example, between 1969 and 2009, Ohio’s high-income manufacturing jobs in the Midwest lost 750,000 net jobs.
Figure 1 Changes in manufacturing jobs in the United States from 1950 to 2017 (in thousands)
Source: U.S. Department of Labor Statistics Bureau: Moody’s www.economy.com
The Shadow Zone is a period of recession determined by the National Bureau of Economic Statistics.
In contrast to the shift of manufacturing and job losses, the financial and information technology industries in the United States have developed rapidly with globalization. In 1980, the value added of finance, real estate and professional services exceeded manufacturing for the first time in the GDP of the United States.
Figure 2 The proportion of net profit of U.S. stocks by industry in 2018
We can see from Figure 2. In the annual earnings of listed companies in the United States, the financial industry still occupies the first place, the information technology industry occupies the second place, and the industry accounts for only 7%. The financial industry is mainly distributed in financial centers such as New York, while Silicon Valley in California is a famous science and technology innovation center.
After decades of globalization and industrial structural changes, the United States has been economically divided into two parts: the East and West Coast states, which are good at finance, services and high technology, namely, the “liberal United States”, old industrial bases such as the Midwest, and the South constituted the “conservative America”. And the political attitudes of the two parts are obviously different.
Figure 3 Distribution of parties in the four general elections in 2004-16
Source: https://share.america.gov/, administered by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of International Information
Figure 3 reflects the state’s vote for bipartisan presidential candidates in the last four U.S. election years, 2004, 2008, 2012 and 2016: red is the Republican candidate winning all four elections; pink is the Republican candidate wins three times; purple is the two-party election. Win twice each; light blue is the Democratic candidate wins three times in four elections; blue is the Democratic Party wins in all four elections; purple is its voters swinging between the two parties, that is, swinging states.
According to this picture, it is not difficult to find that the basic disk of the two parties is not only very stable, but also very “big”. There are only a few real swing states, and this pattern is in line with the two major plates formed by the “national division” of the United States.
In addition to the gradual reflection of the impact of the globalization on the U.S. economy to the political level, changes in the demographic structure of the United States are also contributing to “ethnic division”.
According to the survey of the U.S. Census Bureau, the demographic structure of the United States is undergoing profound changes. In terms of the total population, whites (excluding Hispanics) accounted for 62.2% and other ethnic groups accounted for 37.8% in 2014. It is expected that whites will account for only 43.6% and other ethnic groups will account for 56.4% in 2060. In terms of the population under the age of 18, the proportion is even more disparate: in 2014, whites accounted for 52%, other ethnic groups accounted for 48%, and whites are expected to account for only 35.6% in 2060 and other ethnic groups for 64.4%.
If this trend continues, white people will become a minority in the United States for the foreseeable future, which is unacceptable to many white people with superior emotions. American conservative political scientist Huntington has previously expressed concern about the crisis of national identity caused by changes in the United States in his last book, Who We Are: Challenges to National Identity.
Research by Angus Deaton and Anne Case, economists at Princeton University in the United States, shows that the mortality rate of low-educated middle-aged and middle-income men has been soaring in recent years, and these people are suffering from unemployment. The trouble of family and health problems caused by it. This is also a true portrayal of the lives of some white workers whose own interests have been harmed in the context of globalization.
“National division” may divide the United States in two
In the process of economic globalization, the United States has gradually formed a “liberal America” and a “conservative United States”. Among them, “liberal America” is the beneficiary of economic changes over the past four decades. It is more inclined to globalization and welcomes immigrants, advocates government intervention in economic and social life, supports racial and cultural pluralism and Gender equality. The “conservative America” is the victim of economic and social changes in the past 40 years. It hopes to protect its own industry and adhere to Christian evangelical ideas and traditional ideas.
It is the confrontation between the “two Americas” that nurtures the political cancer of “national division” and tears up the political system in a political polarization way, which is reflected in three aspects.
First of all, the bipartisan antagonism has intensified within Congress. This has led to the inefficiency of Congress and fewer and fewer bills passed.
Secondly, Congress and the executive system are opposed. Once the president and the majority of Congress belong to different political parties, the contradiction between the legislature and the executive branch will intensify and even lead to the shutdown of government organs. President Trump, a Democrat and Republican-turned in the House of Representatives, is in conflict during the coronavirus crisis.
Thirdly, the Federation and the state are opposed. Governors who belong to different political parties from the president often use federalism to resist the president’s orders. In February 2019, U.S. President Trump declared a state of emergency in order to divert military spending to build a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border. On the 18th of the same month, the California government, a Democrat governor, and 15 other states jointly accused Trump of abuse of power. On the 19th, the Trump administration announced that they would recover and cancel the federal government’s $3.5 billion in California’s construction of high-speed rail.
The federal and state rivals have been more prominent in this coronavirus pandemic. At the beginning of the epidemic, Trump delayed ordering masks for all, and many states where Democrats were governors issued “mask orders”. As the weather in the northern hemisphere turns cold and the epidemic in the United States has worsened since November, President-elect Biden said that he would personally call the governors of various “red states” who tend to support the Republican Party to persuade them to issue a decree to wear masks. However, some “red state” governors told the media that they would reject Biden’s request.
Since the 2020 coronavirus pandemic, the political malignant tumour of “national division” has been growing viciously and has created a larger political polarization in the presidential election…