For example, Hochschild continued,
When I asked a Pikeville, Ky., businessman why he thought the Democratic Party had become “failed,” Henry, as I’ll call him here, studied his cell phone, then held it up for me to see a video of two transgender activists standing . on the White House lawn in Pride week. One laughingly shook her bare prosthetic breasts, the other bare-chested, showing scars where breasts had been cut off. The clip then moved to President Biden saying, “these are the bravest people I know.”
The sense of loss is acute among many Republican voters. Geoffrey Laymanpolitical scientist at Notre Dame, emailed me to say:
They see the face of America changing, with whites becoming a minority of Americans in the not too distant future. They see church membership declining and some churches closing. They see interracial and same-sex couples in TV commercials. They support Trump because they think he is the last, best hope to bring back the America they knew and loved.
In the abstract of their 2022 paper, “Anti-Racism and Its Discontents: The Prevalence and Political Influence of Opposition to Antiracism Among White Americans,” Wetts and Willer write:
From calls to ban critical race theory to concerns about a “woke culture,” American conservatives have mobilized against racist claims and movements. Here, we propose that this opposition has crystallized into a distinct racial ideology among white Americans, profoundly shaping contemporary racial politics.
Wetts and Willer call this ideology “anti-racism” and argue that it “is prevalent among white Americans, especially Republicans, is a powerful predictor of several political positions, and is strongly related to—though conceptually distinct from—various measures of anti-Black prejudice. “
Sympathy versus opposition to anti-racism, they continue, “may have coalesced into a clear axis of ideological disagreement that uniquely shapes contemporary racial views that divide party groups.”
They propose a three-part definition of anti-racism:
Opposition to anti-racism involves (1) rejecting factual claims about the prevalence and severity of anti-Black racism, discrimination, and racial inequality; (2) disagree with normative beliefs that racism, discrimination, and racial inequality are important moral concerns that society and/or government should address; and (3) show affective reactions of frustration, anger and fatigue with those factual and normative claims as well as the activists and movements that make them.
The degree to which the party divide has become even more deeply entrenched has been captured by three political scientists, John Sides of Vanderbilt and Chris Tausanovitch and Lynn Vavreckboth from UCLA, in their 2022 book, “The Bitter End.”
Vavreck wrote in an email that she and her co-authors described
the state of American politics as “calcified”. Calcification sounds like polarization but it’s more like “polarization-plus”. Calcification comes from increased homogeneity within parties, increased heterogeneity between the parties (on average, the parties become farther apart in political ideas), the increase in importance of issues based on identity (such as immigration, abortion, or transgender policies) instead. of, for example, economic issues (such as tax rates and trade), and finally, the close balance in the electorate between Democrats and Republicans. The last element makes every choice a high-stakes choice – because the other side wants to build a world completely different from the one your side wants to build.
The Sides-Tausanovitch-Vavreck argument receives support in a new paper by the psychologists Adrian Lüders, Dino Carpentras and Michael Quayle from the University of Limerick in Ireland. The authors demonstrate not only how entrenched polarization has become, but also how attuned voters have become to party signals and how adept they are now at using signals to determine whether a stranger is a Democrat or a Republican.