According to writer Peter Baker, the 2024 general election matchup that “seems likely between President Biden and former President Donald J. Trump is about fundamentally disparate visions of America.” This seems like the understatement of the year, but Baker’s New York Times piece is worth reading.
Here is a taste:
The looming showdown between President Biden and former President Donald J. Trump, assuming Nikki Haley cannot pull off a hail-mary surprise, goes beyond the binary liberal-conservative split of two political parties familiar to generations of Americans. It is at least partly about ideology, yes, but also fundamentally about race and religion and culture and economics and democracy and retribution and most of all, perhaps, about identity.
It is about two vastly disparate visions of America led by two presidents who, other than their age and the most recent entry on their résumés, could hardly be more dissimilar. Mr. Biden leads an America that, as he sees it, embraces diversity, democratic institutions and traditional norms, that considers government at its best to be a force for good in society. Mr. Trump leads an America where, in his view, the system has been corrupted by dark conspiracies and the undeserving are favored over hard-working everyday people.
Deep divisions in the United States are not new; indeed, they can be traced back to the Constitutional Convention and the days of John Adams versus Thomas Jefferson. But according to some scholars, they have rarely reached the levels seen today, when Red and Blue Americas are moving farther and farther apart geographically, philosophically, financially, educationally and informationally.
Americans do not just disagree with each other, they live in different realities, each with its own self-reinforcing Internet-and-media ecosphere. The Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol was either an outrageous insurrection in service of an unconstitutional power grab by a proto-fascist or a legitimate protest that may have gotten out of hand but has been exploited by the other side and turned patriots into hostages.
The two lands have radically different laws on access to abortion and guns. The partisan breakdown is so cemented in 44 states that they effectively already sit in one America or the other when it comes to the fall election. That means they will barely see one of the candidates, who will focus mainly on six battleground states that will decide the presidency.
In an increasingly tribal society, Americans describe their differences more personally. Since Mr. Trump’s election in 2016, according to the Pew Research Center, the share of Democrats who see Republicans as immoral has grown from 35 percent to 63 percent while 72 percent of Republicans say the same about Democrats, up from 47 percent. In 1960, about 4 percent of Americans said they would be displeased if their child married someone from the other party. By 2020, that had grown to nearly four in 10. Indeed, only about 4 percent of all marriages today are between a Republican and a Democrat.
“Today, when we think about America, we make the essential error of imagining it as a single nation, a marbled mix of red and blue people,” Michael Podhorzer, a former political director of the AFL-CIO, wrote in an essay last month. “But America has never been one nation. We are a federated republic of two nations: Red Nation and Blue Nation. This is not a metaphor; it is a geographic and historical reality.”
The current divide reflects the most significant political realignment since Republicans captured the South and Democrats the North following the civil rights legislation of the 1960s. Mr. Trump has transformed the G.O.P. into the party of the white working class, rooted strongly in rural communities and resentful of globalization, while Mr. Biden’s Democrats have increasingly become the party of the more highly educated and economically better off, who have thrived in the information age.
Read the rest here.