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Thursday, November 13, 2003

BI-POLAR NATION
America, Divided

by Andrew Sullivan
I was searching around for a metaphor for what life is actually like as a politically interested person in the U.S. right now, and I'm not sure I've come up with anything that accurately conveys it. The term "polarization" seems a little too anti-septic. "Bi-polar" suggests serial ups and downs, whereas America's divisions are deep and simultaneous. The "red-blue" split - between blue coastal elites and red Middle America - has become an almost meaningless cliche; and it misses the fact that there are plenty of blue-style voters in red America and vice-versa. Evoking the deep divides of the Vietnam war is also rhetorical over-kill. We're not there yet. At the same time, the gulf between liberals and conservatives, broadly speaking, or between Bush-supporters and Bush-haters, between young and old, between South and North, has rarely been as profound or as bitter than now. The fact that the United States is also at the beginning of a long war against Islamo-fascism makes the divisions more acrimonious and emotionally fraught. You feel at times, in many conversations and interactions, caught between two magnetic poles, whose cultural power is so strong that maintaining any position in between them becomes harder and harder.
Read it all.