Polarization is a symptom of deep rot. It can also be an excuse for inaction.
I've often dumbed it down to the body-count. "Murder will out" and where stats are shaky, the number of dead is more reliable than trying to count concussions and broken limbs.
Watts Riots, 1965: 34 dead (violence in Los Angeles)
Detroit Riots, 1967: 43
Rodney King, 1992: 63 (L.A. again)
BLM, 2020: 25 (combined, all over America)
....there is just no sign of left-wing violence rising in response to all these threats from the right. Most of those BLM marches happened after they'd been threatened with federal troops. Helicopters overhead. Marchers bloodied on TV. And, obviously, the Heather Heyer vehicular murder left 5 in critical condition, injured 35.
That's a lot of provocation for very little violence, and of course, the dead in 2020 were more often marchers than people assaulted by marchers.
I'd like to see the argument against the statement that the Left has done nothing but moderate since the Weathermen and Black Panthers. Black protests have never again gone the Black Panther route of armed Black men patrolling neighbourhoods. I can't remember the last left-wing bombing or shooting.
So, there's Justin, having to resort to the subjunctive: "IF the left feels" [they must], they MAY take...".
Call me when the first Lefty militia has formed, JL. The right has been forming them in numbers since, oh, about Gingrich.
In due course.
I’m curious to know more about the “Political financing regimes that remove the power from... angry small donors would be good,”. What examples are there of this and how has it improved/curbed the rise of polarizing candidates or party platforms?
Don't know that you're missing anything Justin.......but for me, polarization is also characterized by black/white thinking, and most recently I see it most clearly in some of the discussions about Ukraine.
Once we think we've found the villain, it almost seems as if we stop following the details of any situation...we've reached our 'conclusion' and what doesn't fit our conclusion becomes invisible, gets washed away, or is treated as if it never happened. I see that with America and NATO's role in the war.
People I respect act as if Iraq never happened....as if the Syria mess was something the west washed her hands of, as if foreign policy around the world is irrelevant.
So I'm coming to believe that in many issues that we face today, people don't have the time or the inclination to do their homework..........but are compelled somehow to 'take a side'.
To be honest, it scares me. Because the truth is all the problems we face as a planet are complex, dire and growing worse with every month we dither. But dithering is almost the only thing many people feel safe doing.......once the battle lines are drawn.
Polarization=Conflict=constant ideological bickering=Snailmate.
When the real emergency is the climate emergency and as far as I can tell, the Great Mother doesn't give a rat's ass about our certainties, our hatreds or our grievances. She wants a stable climate, and she's going to kick ass until she's got it, or everything falls apart as she reacts to our profligate consumption of hydrocarbons.
Everything else seems academic to me. But perhaps we could fight about that!
I do not suggest that your observations are uninteresting. Or that controversies in the United States are irrelevant to what goes on in Canada; since, of course, we share a news and information eco (echo?) system. Indeed, we are deluged by American news media and drowned in America popular culture. So, we cannot avoid the political and economic influences that slip over the boarder, like the illegal handguns that fuel gun-crime in our cities. And the fact is: there is much to be said for Pierre Trudeau’s “sleeping with an elephant” metaphor.
However, I would have welcomed your assessment of what this “polarization” means in the Canadian context - which, with respect (and because of its different history and constitutional arrangements), simply does not automatically mimic US political behaviour. And in the result, problems like racism, have a different texture in Canada, as Joseph Heath tried to do in this piece:
Accordingly, I would have welcomed something more like that; and less like something that I can read in the Atlantic or in the New York Review of Books (that is, if I were interested in the role of yet another Kennedy in the goofy US electoral system).
So I hope that at some point, you have a follow up piece which adds that perspective.
Great piece Justin. I would add that there is a growing responsibility for serious folks on both sides to do a better job of calling out their own side. Especially those who do that without selling out their own ideals. I think of the good folks at TheDispatch.com in the US, for example.
"But polarization needs a way to resolve itself: It needs to enact change, spark a constructive debate, and propel a change in popular sentiment." I might add that it also needs to have some sort of end-point goal by which an issue is understood to be "solved". I think you may even have written somewhere that several good (and polarizing) movements today don't seem to realize they have accomplished what they originally set out to do, so they just keep moving the goal posts.
Another thought regarding the danger of polarizing, I would assume it makes it easier for interference from hostile governments to choose a side. Makes their targets easier to ferret out for their focus.
Now I better actually read Zimmer before I stick my foot in my mouth.
I don't disagree with Mr. Ryerson's observation., nor downplay the corrosive potential of these social trends. I merely observe that I would have preferred that the writer apply his analytical eye, at the situation here is Canada, which is not the same as that in the US; and I am a paid subscriber, precisely because I value Mr. Ling's views, as an independent journalist. Just as I do "Paul Wells" or the folks at "The Line" . In other words, I encourage and welcome his analysis of polarization, HERE, where citizens can do something about it, rather than in the US, where Canadian influence is minimal.
Who moderates? is very much the challenge when even a former GG is taken down. Finding common values still remains the best hope if we can stop "calling out" long enough.