2004-11-05

Cultural division in America

The FT quotes Mark Mellman, Kerry's chief pollster:
A class-based politics, which was the feature of our politics since the New Deal, has been almost completely replaced with a culture-based politics. We have a country that is very importantly divided on the basis of culture.
Reading this, it occurred to me that part of why the current political environment is so much more polarized may be because, unlike class, cultural division is not something people aspire to transcend: People do aspire to raise themselves in the class hierarchy and believe they will succeed in doing so, and support the desire of others to do the same, thereby leaving their old class position behind; this is wholly unlike cultural commitments, where people wish to convert, rather than become, those on the other side. This makes for a divide more entrenched, as people see no purpose in trying to adopt the perspective of their opponents (those they wish to become, or those they wish should join them): instead the goal is to show them that they are wrong. At this rate, the american political environment will resemble the secular-religious divide in Israel before long.

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