Geographic political polarization threatens nation

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A supporter is an American flag shirt waves a sign at Donald Trump’s campaign rally in Austin on Aug. 23, 2016. Trump’s campaign focused heavily on nationalist attitudes and policy ideas.
Photo Credit: Joshua Guerra | Daily Texan Staff

If, Hashem forbid, one week from tomorrow, Donald Trump is elected the next President of the United States, it will not be because the election was rigged. It will not be because Vladimir Putin hacked this country’s voting machines. It will not be because of any massive conspiracies. It will simply be because more people voted for him than his opponents. (Or at least in states that compose a majority of the Electoral College.)

If the election goes the other way, the same will not be said by a majority of Trump’s supporters. In poll after poll, most people pulling the level for Trump can only attribute one rationale to a prospective Trump loss: fraud. Even Trump himself has suggested very heavy-handedly that fraud is rampant throughout this election and is working against him. (The only major case of voter fraud so far has been a woman in Iowa charged with attempting to vote for Trump twice.)

The reason why, no matter who wins, supporters of the losing candidate will be without words is the continuing geographic partisan polarization of America. I live in Texas, a state Trump is likely to win, and I can count on one hand the number of people that I know who have openly admitted they are voting for Trump.

Similarly, Trump’s supporters in other places have bragged of their certainty in Trump’s chances because everyone they personally know supports him. Yard signs are often touted in this unscientific measurement.

So why could I attribute a Trump victory to reality and when so many of his supporters could not attribute a Trump loss to the same? Simply put, there are two Americas, but only one is apprised of the other’s existence.

One America lives in the cities and is heterogeneous. They are, on average, more educated and more well-read. They receive their news from actual newspapers and network television. Even if they do not live or work in diverse environments, the region is diverse enough to be aware of what is going on across the tracks, so to speak.

The other America lives outside cities and is laregely homogeneous. They are almost exclusively white and Christian. They are, on average, less educated and less well-read. They receive their news from talk radio, Breitbart and a plethora of other biased lie-machines, some of which — I’m thinking of a few blogs I see on my Facebook feed — peddle straight-up B.S.

When a poll paints a good picture for Trump or a newscycle is favorable to him, the so-called mainstream media reports it. Even those who live in a bubble of Trump hate, such as myself, are aware of the facts on the ground. Not so in the other America. Bad news is sanitized, good news is overhyped and the truth just gets beaten to a pulp and left at the side of the road for no good reason at all.

Analyses contend that trends will only make this polarization worse. As race becomes the single strongest predictor of party identification, pundits have prognosticated that the entire Midwest will trend Republican while coastal states such as Virginia, North Carolina, Georgia and Florida will become reliably Democratic. We might eventually literally be a country of blue coasts and red everywhere else.

As trends continue, this polarization — and the nastiness that accompanies it — will only get worse. This is just the beginning.

Horwitz is a first year law student from Houston. Follow him on twitter @nmhorwitz