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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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How the U.S. Supreme Court Reinforces Divisions in American Society

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There is hardly any country in the world in which the government has referred so often in different historical periods to the necessity of unity. The United States of America was created in order to implement a republican system of government with more social participation in the process of governance, as thirteen colonies transformed into states united under the confederate and later federal government. In crises, this government would often emphasize the necessity of unity against a common enemy, i.e. the British (1812), the Mexicans (1846), the Spanish (1898), the Central Powers (WWI), the Axis Powers (WWII), the Reds (1920s & Cold War era), and terrorists (9/11 and beyond), often using national security arguments as justification of concrete actions. Furthermore, symbols of unity such as the U.S. flag, the Constitution, the presidency, or the concept of freedom have been referred to during these times, with T-shirts saying United We Stand serving as the modern way of showing affinity to the values shared by U.S. society as a whole. The process of shaping American social relations had also been difficult because, since the beginning of American statehood, ethnic, cultural, religious, and political differences among immigrants and U.S. citizens hampered the integration of certain groups living in the same neighborhoods. Therefore, U.S. government institutions played a key role in spreading the notion of unity through certain policies initiated throughout U.S. history. One such institution was the U.S. Supreme Court, serving as the leader of the third branch of government, the...

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