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The United States as a Divided Nation

Past and Present

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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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9/11 Securitized? The Crisis as a Unifying Moment in U.S. History

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E Pluribus Unum – out of many, one. The motto of the official U.S. presidential seal encapsulates the history of a nation with a people as diverse as the ingredients of a salad bowl. In recent decades, however, this struggle for unity has encountered new barriers. There is however, from time to time, a phase of distinct unification that rolls over the nation. This article argues that a crisis can unify a nation for a certain period of time. Negative integration plays a role in uniting a nation when there is an outside threat that can clearly be perceived as endangering the nation as a whole. The article ascertains that loss framing1 was used to conceptualize the events and the responses to 9/11. The influence this framing had for a unifying moment of U.S. elite opinion will be analyzed.

Scholars have done in-depth research on how a crisis can unify the American people.2 For example, the rally-around-the-flag-effect of wars and certain other crises has been acknowledged by many scholars.3 John Mueller conceived the term “rally-around-the-flag-effect” in his article Presidential Popularity from Truman to Johnson. He described a rally as giving “a boost to the President’s popularity rating”.4 As Kenneth Waltz had observed: “In the face of such an event, the people rally behind their chief executive.”5 In one of his other works, War, Presidents and ← 191 | 192 →Public Opinion, Mueller gives examples of events being able to trigger a rally: sudden U.S. military interventions abroad...

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