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The United States as a Divided Nation

Past and Present

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Edited By Marcin Grabowski, Krystof Kozák and György Tóth

Is the U.S. as a country still capable of finding common ground and effective policy responses in the 21 st century, or are the dividing lines within U.S. society actually becoming too deep and too wide to bridge, with potentially grave consequences for American social, political as well as economic development? This book discusses important contemporary U.S. wedge issues such as gun rights, racial and economic inequality, the role of the state, the politics of culture, interpretations of history and collective memory, polarization in national politics, and factionalism in domestic and foreign policy. It provides readers with conceptual tools to grasp the complexity of the current processes, policy formation, and political and social change under way in the United States.
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Introduction

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You know, black-white, rich-poor, North-South, odd-even… there may not be anything anymore that outpaces the hatred the Right feels for the Left, or the tonnage of disrespect the Left feels for the Right.

“Evidence of Things Not Seen,” The West Wing, April 23, 2003

“United we stand – divided we fall.”

AesopJohn DickinsonTupac ShakurAnonymous

October 16, 2013. In the spring of this year, earlier legislation in the U.S. Congress triggered sequestration – sweeping automatic cuts in federal spending reaching billions of dollars. At the end of September, politicians’ unwillingness to compromise on the national budget shut down the U.S. government for the first time since 1996. Now closed to visiting tourists, a long-time symbol of American patriotic values, the Statue of Liberty soon became an emblem of gridlock in government. Yet there was worse to come. The U.S. legislative and executive branches were staring down another deadline – this one for raising the country’s debt ceiling or defaulting as a government. Adding to the newspaper coverage of the effects of the shutdown, the leadership of the World Bank now called on U.S. politicians to find a resolution to the bitter partisan standoff. Allies as well as enemies were watching the U.S. in disbelief – how can the world’s most powerful country become so paralyzed with internal strife?

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