What others say: Not only Congress: America is polarized, too

America has changed in the last 15 years. We have become more polarized, dividing ourselves into conservative and liberal camps, and hardening the positions we hold.

That’s part of what’s making this government gridlock so tough to crack.

In 1998, a study shows, about a third of the 226 Republicans in the House of Representatives represented districts that Democrat Bill Clinton won. By 2012, only 17 of the 234 seats won by Republicans also voted for Democrat Barack Obama.

Every Republican-held House district in Tennessee voted at least 64 percent for Mitt Romney last year.

The change is sharply etched in figures from our own Eighth Congressional District for the last two presidential elections.

In 2008, the Republican nominees in the two most recent presidential elections did about 1 percent better in our district than they did in the nation as a whole. But in 2012, the same calculation showed the GOP’s candidates did 19 percent better than the national average, indicating a much more Republican swing.

Why is this so? ...

Whatever happened to the melting pot of America? Why do we have so much trouble realizing that our differences strengthen us instead of weakening us? Where did the marketplace of ideas go?

If this trend continues, the current government shutdown may be small in comparison with gridlocks to come.

— Paris (Tenn.) Post-Intelligencer,

Oct. 14

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