Why has this happened?
Over the last several years, both of America's major political parties have become radicalized.
The ascent of politicians such as Ayanna Pressley and Josh Hawley has come at the cost of moderate voices like Blanche Lincoln and Mike Castle. Our government is now in a lurch with little hope on the horizon.
One might say the frustration which drives folks having hardcore views must be alleviated so their party can carry on. This is not the case; a certain segment of the population has always been hate-prone, but thankfully ignored.
As of late, it has become more difficult to pretend that radicals do not exist, however.
During 2007, Nature and Neuroscience, a scientific journal, featured a most intriguing study. Scientists discovered that people on the right interpreted things differently from those on the left, and vice-versa. This can be chalked up to what goes on in the anterior cingulate cortex, where the human brain sorts through disagreeable data.
"David Amodio, an assistant professor of psychology at New York University, and lead author of the study, says these results suggest that liberals and conservatives have some basic brain differences — and those differences are influenced by our genetic makeup," Elizabeth Cohen wrote on CNN.
Modern science has established that both genes and environmental factors play a role in our decision-making. So, in times of great right-leaning success, lefties naturally become aggravated and translate this into hardline public policy measures which support their ideology.
During an era of left-leaning governance, righties do the exact same.
"The radical liberal aggressively pursues a collectivist utopia to sooth his paranoid fears of individual liberty," veteran forensic psychiatrist Dr. Lyle Rossiter, author of The Liberal Mind, which strives to analyze the psychology of leftist politics, told me. "The conditions of liberty arouse primitive fears in the radical liberal mind, to which he responds by seeking control over others and over basic social institutions.
"Control through power seeking is reassuring to him, but his exercise of it destroys both freedom and authentic security for the larger society....His ultimate goal is control because that is the only thing that makes him feel safe."
Dr. George Lakoff is a cognitive linguist who taught at U.C. Berkeley for over four decades. Throughout his storied career, he authored a library's worth regarding the science behind political belief.
"Over the past 30 to 40 years, radical conservatives have established a remarkable communications system and, together with smart framing experts, they have created a powerful language of conservatism that has been repeated almost daily throughout both the US and other countries," he explained to me. "This has the effect of activating, and therefore strengthening, conservative ideas in the brains of the public."
Dr. Lakoff also mentioned that, as compared to progressives, "(c)onservatives have been more practiced at using fear and rage. Fear tends to activate strict father morality — you want strength and protection. Rage is easier to activate in those who lack empathy for others."
A jumble of special interest groups, new demographic trends, a growingly secular society, and more have combined to embolden the left. That, in turn, has served as an impetus for right-wing rancor.
All of this provides America with a spectacular display of nature and nurture joining forces in pursuit of power. Politics simply provide an arena for the competition to take place.
Therefore, while partisan radicalism is undeniably horrid, it is symptomatic of a much larger problem. That problem, for its endless nuances, is quite simple: Our country divided down to the cognitive level.
While we never will be able to command Mother Nature, each of us can get along. Whether or not all too many want this, however, is another matter entirely.
Picture of the Day
Manhattan, New Yrok, taken by yours truly almost ten years ago. Feel free to use in any way you like; please credit me if used in public outside of social media, though.
Poem of the Day
By Richard Watson Gilder, from The New Day
XXXI—"WHEN THE LAST DOUBT IS DOUBTED"
When the last doubt is doubted,
The last black shadow flown;
When the last foe is routed;
When the night is over and gone—
Then, Love, O then! there will be rest and peace:
Sweet peace and rest that never thou hast known.
When the hope that in thee moveth
Is born and brought to sight;
When past is the pain that proveth
The worth of thy new delight—
O then, Love! then there will be joy and peace:
Deep peace and joy, bright morning after night.