Skip links

Increasingly Partisan Americans Don’t Want ‘Unity’

Earlier this week, The Atlantic published an amusing piece by Molly Ball tracking a few members of Third Way, a center-left think tank, on their “post-election listening tour.” See if you can spot the flaws in their assumptions:

The trip was predicated on the optimistic notion that if Americans would only listen to each other, they would find more that united than divided them. This notion — the idea that, beyond our polarized politics, lies a middle, or third, path on which most can come together in agreement — is Third Way’s raison d’etre. It is premised on the idea that partisanship is bad, consensus is good, and that most Americans would like to meet in the middle.

This is classic, well-meaning liberalism: Bring people together, explore common concerns, and emerge with a (liberal) consensus. People don’t like division, the thinking goes. They want unity.

Or, maybe not. It turns out that most folks think their beliefs are fine and opposing beliefs are bad. Virtually the only thing everyone agrees upon is that Millennials are annoying:

Disdain for the young, in particular, was a constant, across demographic, socio-economic, and generational lines: Even young people complained about young people. “They don’t want to do the work, and they always feel like they’re being picked on,” a recent graduate of a technical school in Chippewa Falls said of his fellow Millennials.

It’s hard to build national political movements out of the idea that young Americans are entitled and selfish. You have to have something more. Yet time and again, the good folks at Third Way found that people simply “didn’t want to get along.” As one of the researchers said, “There’s an, I don’t know, blue-sky part of me that was like, ‘I’m going to go traveling around the country and see that we’re more about commonalities than differences, that we’re more about our desire to be together than to be separate.’ And I’m not saying that isn’t true. I’m just saying every once in a while it gets kicked in the ass.”

Read more at National Review. 

Share with Friends: