There is no advanced industrial democracy in the world more dysfunctional and politically divided than the United States is today, so how did the most powerful country in the world reach this point?
With this question, Ian Bremer, editor of the international affairs column in the American magazine, The Time, began an article in the magazine, in which he tried to find out the causes of the political polarization and division in the United States in light of the recent events, the most prominent of which was the storming of supporters of the outgoing Republican President Donald Trump. The Congress they wreaked havoc.
Bremer believes that the riots that swept through Congress on Wednesday, January 6, were not only a result of years of preparation, but rather a result of decades, and this is due to three characteristics that characterize American society that American politicians have long ignored, namely: the continuing ethnic legacy, and the changing nature of capitalism , And the division of the collective media landscape in the United States.
Although the United States is not the only country with a turbulent history of race relations and the words of the writer, its dealings with dealing with deep-rooted racial and ethnic legacies have been slow, as the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 took nearly a century after the end of the Civil War, for example. A few.
Some steps have been taken in recent decades to seriously address this legacy, including anti-discrimination laws and some other practical efforts, which have resulted in putting black Americans on a path of greater equality and paving the way for the elections for the first black president in US history.
But as the Black Lives Matter protests last summer made clear, there is still much unfinished work on the issue.
The second part of the story
The writer points out that what was mentioned above was only part of the story, and the other part related to the violent reaction to the issue of the settlement of ethnic heritage, where a group of white Americans, most of them from the countryside, see that their position in society has become threatened as a result of demographics and accounts Recent ethnicity.
This has manifested itself in politics, for example, in the form of redistricting schemes, voter suppression, and recent violence in the Congress building.
Although this anxiety was contributed to by economic factors that we will address later, we understand it better by looking at it from its broader dimension of identity, according to the author.
After years of shaping this trend, those feelings of discontent culminated in the Trump years, culminating in the deadly riots that targeted the Congress building last week.
Bremer believes that there is also a factor in the volatile nature of capitalism. Capitalism and the economic growth that it brought have enabled the United States to become the most prominent superpower in the world during the latter half of the twentieth century.
But there is another side to American capitalism. This individual economic system generated enormous fortunes but also resulted in a middle-income American worker with a lower social safety net, especially compared to his European counterparts, and a political system more vulnerable to control by vested interests and financiers.
And what was mentioned above is not a new factor that suddenly appeared with the arrival of Trump to the White House, and although American capitalism had long allowed inequality in material returns, the past thirty years have witnessed a rise in inequality of opportunity as well.
The latter form is even more destructive when people feel that they haven't even had a chance to compete, let alone succeed, that it pisses them off.
The role of the media
The author believes that the technological revolution, and the speed and spread it brought to the media, contributed to accelerating and deepening the pace of the division that America is witnessing, especially with the emergence of social media, but the truly disruptive element introduced by technology companies is the algorithms actively designed to attract more advertising revenue and followers, It is often achieved by promoting extremist and misleading content, all at the expense of healthy and informed citizenship.
The writer concluded that there are many challenges awaiting President-elect Joe Biden when he takes office, and although eliminating the Corona epidemic may be the most urgent challenge for him, it is not the most difficult challenge.
Vaccines can wipe out epidemics, but there is no vaccine to end our political divisions.