America's Extreme Social Fragmentation Exposed In 3 Simple Charts


Analysts have been conducting studies since 1994, trying to discern political polarization. These three charts look at the years 1994, 2004, and 2017.

Even as late as 2004, notice the broad crossover between the median Democrat and median Republican. And then notice how wide the divide is today.

Not only are the median positions of both parties further apart, but both parties have also shifted farther to their respective extremes in the last 13 years. The middle ground is much smaller, and to my eye it looks like the Democratic group is somewhat bigger than the Republican. You can see the same thing in the breakdown of the vote by states and counties; but since political commentary is not my genre, I’m going to avoid going any further down that rabbit hole.

But I will say that the internet, social media, and the media we consume on TV have allowed us to live in echo chambers where we are not really hearing much from the other side. We talk to people who think like we do and who tend to confirm that we are correct in our beliefs. That constant cycle of reinforcement makes our positions even more hardline, to the point where we trivialize or disparage the other side. It has seemingly become acceptable for an American congressman to say that he doesn’t feel sorry for those killed in the mass Las Vegas shooting because they were likely Trump supporters and against gun control. And for white hate groups to blatantly and publicly espouse racist positions. Antifa groups can call for the random killing of white people, simply for being white. And fewer than 30% of Millennials think that democracy is clearly the superior system of government.

And that is where we are today. Where are we going to be when unemployment is well over 12% and rising to 15%, the government is routinely running multitrillion-dollar budget deficits, state and local pensions are defaulting, and taxes are high and still rising?

And all this is going to happen at a time when wealth and income disparity are going to rising even faster than they are today. It’s all there in the data if you take the time to look. I am working hard to document not just the technological changes but the social, demographic, and political changes, along with the economic realities we will face in the book I’m currently writing. My greatest challenge will be to keep it under 300 pages!

And so, yes, when people ask what is in my worry closet, it is the fragmentation of society. As a country, we are going to have to begin to think the unthinkable. We really don’t know how to accurately measure GDP or inflation, and we certainly don’t have any way to statistically measure the improvements in lifestyle over the years. And we will need those tools. As conservatives and Republicans, we are going to have to think about something like universal basic employment, as opposed to universal basic income. Good work and participating in society give us meaning in life. Income just gives us a way to scrape by, but not personal life satisfaction or meaning, which is why we have an epidemic of opioid deaths, suicides, and rising deaths from alcoholism in the United States among white unemployed workers between 45 and 54. They have lost meaning and hope in their lives.

The calls for a guaranteed basic income (like Mark Zuckerberg’s) are just beginning, but that is going to become a major political theme in our future. Like King Canute, we cannot stop the tides – but perhaps we could get creative and channel that tide. What do we think of shorter work weeks? Just as Roosevelt put men to work during the Depression, maybe we need to think about finding jobs around our communities that need to be done. Guaranteed basic employment. Mull that over….

Yes, that offends every Hayekian neuron in my brain, but in a world of an unimaginable and unmanageable future, we are going to have start thinking the unthinkable.

Voters are going to want politicians to solve their problems. Politicians can’t really solve the problems we already have, let alone the problems of the future, so I expect we are going to see shifts from one political extreme to the other.

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HillaryOdor ReturnOfDaMac Fri, 11/03/2017 - 16:47 Permalink

Yes Pareto talked about 80/20 rules occuring naturally, but due to government what we have is more like a 95/20 rule, and so many idiots think government is the solution.  It's amazing watching government destroy a civilization as everyone goes begging for more government to fix everything. We deserve a Darwin award.

In reply to by ReturnOfDaMac

toady Son of Loki Fri, 11/03/2017 - 16:10 Permalink

Funny discussion over dinner last night... my high schooler was going on about how Andrew Jackson was the most racist president ever (must be learning about him in history class..), so he starts asking "who was the most racist president?"Without hesitation I responded "Obama".You shoulda seen the looks of horror!"Obama was the first black president, he was elected on the votes of black people who assumed he would address their grievances, but he didn't. Instead he never gave them their "reparations", militarized the police, invited millions of Hispanics into the mix, and legalized transgender bathrooms.""I never heard the word "racist" on a daily basis until Obama was president.I used to hear it a handful of times a year, now it's 4 or 5 times a day, and climbing. If there is a race war at some point it will be because Obama failed to deliver on race relations."I don't think they'll want to go on another racist witch pursuit thing with me anytime soon!

In reply to by Son of Loki

Jim in MN Stuck on Zero Fri, 11/03/2017 - 15:22 Permalink

Better chart and analysis in this ZH post from last October. Originally from Deutsche Bank credit derivatives expert Aleksandar Kocic ("of all people" as the Tylers commented at the time)…Political manifold has developed a more complicated topology. In addition to the left and right, there is a “transverse” direction which represents the antagonism between the local and the global.

In reply to by Stuck on Zero

El Vaquero Automatic Choke Fri, 11/03/2017 - 14:16 Permalink

The middle will become no-man's land, full of barbed wire and murderous machine gun fire.  From both sides.  It is getting to the point even on the more conservative side that, even if you agree with them 95% of the time, that other 5% is enough to get you seriously chastised, ESPECIALLY if you position is consistent with the left's.  The hard left (antifa, SJWs, and commies in general,) already has this built into their way of thinking.  When they come to consensus of how things are and where they should go, you buy in 100%, or else you will be out of the group. 

In reply to by Automatic Choke

Automatic Choke hongdo Fri, 11/03/2017 - 15:46 Permalink

I reside in a small demographic.   Ph.D. physics, work with colleagues who are highly intelligent and also politically fairly centered.   Wife Ph.D. biology, also middle ground.  Neighbors are middle class, a little more off center (scattered both sides), but also appreciate that getting along with neighbors is more important than fighting over politics.  Hiking friends tend to be much higher fraction engineers/scientists than local population (figure out that demographic!), and are likewise either centered or politely tolerant.  We dropped cable tv years ago, read WSJ and local paper in print for breakfast news.  (I appreciate WSJ as they are one of few papers that still understands difference between news and editorials).  I actively avoid the intolerant screaming on both sides.   I have a "Giant Meteor 2016" bumper sticker on my car.  I voted libertarian, mostly out of disgust for the choices both parties gave us.

In reply to by hongdo

338 Automatic Choke Sat, 11/04/2017 - 09:35 Permalink

Inteligence and a love of history shows anyone with a IQ over 75 this is the divide and conquer strategy with a side order of Freedom Fries to go with the sports on TV, 24 hour a day presstitutes fellating their favorite politician of the day while the people are absolutely stolen blind by taxes and inflation. The wealth of the working and thinking class has basically not just been stolen, but mortgaged, and people think the party of their choice is going to change something? The Stockholm Syndrome is here.  I don't want to be sodomized by either party, but that's just me. Oh, and TAXATION IS THEFT sean

In reply to by Automatic Choke

serotonindumptruck El Vaquero Fri, 11/03/2017 - 14:04 Permalink

"But I will say that the internet, social media, and the media we consume on TV have allowed us to live in echo chambers where we are not really hearing much from the other side."Many internet discussion forums are heavily moderated and any opinion or comment that strays too far from the established narrative is blocked or deleted, and oftentimes the person who posted the comment is immediately banned.

In reply to by El Vaquero

Soundgardener serotonindumptruck Wed, 11/08/2017 - 15:12 Permalink

Anyone currently self-brainwashing, punishing themselves for transgressions in a previous life or whatever, by willingly subjecting themselves to Alex Jones / Infowars, FOR GOD'S SAKE, FOLLOW MY INSTRUCTIONS BELOW IMMEDIATELY...if you stumble across a copy of Dianetics in a state of mind like that ('Jonesing'), next thing you know you'll have signed up for A BILLION YEARS OF PAID AUDITING, and begun your descent down to Operating Cretin Level 8 (at which stage you'll be able to claim to bend spoons like a loon almost as well as Hubbard claimed like a loon that you'd be able to bend spoons, like a...see? Do you see what happens, Spoonman?!) Okay, moving on quickly:a) Check out, direct from the horse's ass, Jones' bizarre tirade of unadulterated alarmist Y2K bullshit ("Russian nukes" etc) just after the millenium: here. (b) READ THIS account by a genuinely talented and honest web researcher, light years ahead of AJ (and the vast majority of others, MSM or otherwise) who tried to share info. with The Baron Harkonnen, er Jones, before quickly learning what a MASSIVE DISINFORMATION VECTOR and licker of Satan's nutpurse he is. (Don't forget good disinfo recipes use a 4:1 or higher fact-to-Satan's Jizz ratio).EXTRA CREDIT FOR SUPER-MORONS: Check out the rest of the ISGP website while you're at it: if you're a current victim of Infowars, I trust you'll have the common decency to brush furiously, perhaps tear up a bit and tremble for a minute or two, before furiously trying to eradicate any and all trace that you ever admitted (or, gulp...promoted) AJ to friend or foe. I strenuously suggest the debunking articles on Graham Hancock, Steven Greer, David Wilcox, and so on, once you're back to the task of actively attempting to make yourself less of a cretinous, drooling embarassment to your species (AKA a drooling Infowarrior)BUT WAIT THERE'S MOR(ON):Debunking Graham 'Fingerpaints of the Gods' Hancock (and decades of New Age hippie-shit on Atlantis) here

In reply to by serotonindumptruck

Soundgardener robertsgt40 Wed, 11/08/2017 - 10:30 Permalink

Fat load of good that's gonna do when the Polar-Ized Caps are melting!Now if anyone's interested in practical solutions, allow my friend Jason James Bickford and his Polarization Nation Media Youtube channel to part the shit out of the proverbial/metaphorical/figurative veil:UNIFIED CODE THEORY: EVERYBODY IS TYLER DURDEN (Manifesto 1) yer'selfs in psychonauts—this guy's (possibly) the real deal.

In reply to by robertsgt40

nope-1004 Fri, 11/03/2017 - 13:39 Permalink

That constant cycle of reinforcement makes our positions even more hardline, to the point where we trivialize or disparage the other side..." Is that "other side" the deep state?If so, it seems logical for anyone seeking truth and justice to disparage propaganda and lies coming from CNN and CNBS

ogretown Fri, 11/03/2017 - 13:39 Permalink

Okay, so less cuddling and fondling between *real* Americans and the domestic enemies of America since 1994.  That is probably a good thing - as would be extremely difficult to initiate a proper and true revolution and purge of those who hate America if we are allowing them to rub our feet, pour our drinks, etc. 

Ron_Mexico ogretown Fri, 11/03/2017 - 14:02 Permalink

Consider what was happening in the early 90's: Clinton elected, gays in the military, Clarence Thomas debacle, real estate market swoon, raise taxes, HillaryCare etc. As I've often said, it took me about 5 years to get totally sick of GW Bush, but it only took me a few weeks to get sick of the Clintons.  I think a lot of it began right there.

In reply to by ogretown

338 runswithscissors Sat, 11/04/2017 - 09:49 Permalink

1.       Abolition of private property and the application of all rents of land to public purposes.   2.        A heavy progressive or graduated income tax.   3.       Abolition of all rights of inheritance.   4.       Confiscation of the property of all emigrants and rebels   5.       Centralization of credit in the hands of the state, by means of a national bank with State capital and an exclusive monopoly.   6.       Centralization of the means of communications and transportation in the hands of the State.   7.       Extension of factories and instruments of production owned by the state, the bringing into cultivation of waste lands, and the improvement of the soil generally in accordance with a common plan.   8.       Equal liability of all to labor. Establishment of industrial armies, especially for agriculture.   9.       Combination of agriculture with manufacturing industries, gradual abolition of the distinction between town and country, by a more equitable distribution of population over the country.   10.   Free education for all children in public schools. Abolition of children's factory labor in its present form. Combination of education with industrial production.  EXACTLY!!!!! We have a winner, only find me which one on the 'right' of the spectrum you can find that vehemently disagrees with EVERY SINGLE ONE of the above points of Marxism, I'll run down and Vote for him or her right now. But you can't find a single one. Sorry,Mamama we're all Commie now!!!  

In reply to by runswithscissors

edotabin Ron_Mexico Fri, 11/03/2017 - 15:13 Permalink

Good post, yes. However, I'm not certain these things began in the Clinton era. That is just when things started to boil over. You'd probably have to go back to the late 40s or early 50s for the beginning stages of implementation of the insidious plan. The plan itself is, naturally, older and has been used very successfully earlier still.

In reply to by Ron_Mexico

Soundgardener Ron_Mexico Wed, 11/08/2017 - 15:31 Permalink

'50 Years of the Deep State' - Mark GortonNot a bad read (just finished a 45-page draft version) According to Gorton, HillBillary was beholden to George 'Son of Mengele-Hitler-Goebbells-Satan-Baal et al' Bush after years of criminal collusion, esp. permitting Mena Arkensas to act as Thunderbirds HQ for CIA drug / gun runnery (hardly a groundbreaking conclusion, nor were most of the other dots linked therin, but Gorton's dot-connection / synthesis is pretty plausible & I found it a good read)… 5 years to get sick of a convicted Nazi's offspring? A thousand points of light? Attempt on Reagan's life with a few months of his Presidency, Hinkley a family fiend? Ex head of the scum CIA? Deeply implicated in JFK, 9/11, ejaculating inside The Thing That Spawned Dubya? Possible kiddy rapist? FUCK'S SAKE MAN: KNOW YOUR ENEMA.

In reply to by Ron_Mexico

seek Fri, 11/03/2017 - 13:40 Permalink

Notice on that chart the left has moved way further left than the right has moved to the right -- eyeballing, by about a factor of two.I think most people here are familiar with the Hegelian Dialectic that's the motive force behind this.The "fragmentation" is an illusion created by a small subset of the extreme left trying to cram their agenda down everyone's throat -- including the moderate left.