Final Paper total - Balloga 1 Abram Balloga Campaigns and...

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Balloga, 1 Abram Balloga Campaigns and Elections Final Paper 12/5/2006 Recent Polarization in American Culture Wars Introduction Political elections have revealed, and perpetuated, the battle between liberal and conservative ideologies in America. These two sides increasingly define themselves by their respective stances on social and moral issues such as separation of church and state, firearms, abortion, gay marriage, and affirmative action. Scholars and researchers across the United States debate the existence of political polarization in American culture. While still others have brought forth evidence showing that polarization is not in fact occurring, that it exists only in our imaginations. This subject has taken my interest, because as a college undergrad, I only recall the past three presidential elections – in terms of issues, candidates, attitudes and emotions. In the media, the 2000 and 2004 elections were extremely cutthroat. There was a bitterness between Republicans and Democrats which seemed to hack the country in two. Previously, I dismissed this as standard national election drama. But further investigation of the matter convinced me that the spike in
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Balloga, 2 voter turnout for 2004 was not the effect of hot button issues. Instead I theorized that a culture battle is responsible for the passionate 2004 general election. Voters were driven to the poles by the need to protect their cultural interests, not a sudden interest in abortion or the war in Iraq. Americans felt unusually compelled in 2004 to support the party with which they align most. However the hot debate issues do not satisfy my conception of what can inspire record high voter turnouts. I believe that this must be caused by some sort of cultural realignment between the Democrats and Republicans. Furthermore there seems to be substantial evidence supporting the hypothesis that political polarization is a side affect from a more pressing concern – a deep cultural conflict is emerging in this supposed cultural ‘melting pot’ also known as the United States. Polarization: Rural vs. Urban Culture Larry Bartels, James Davidson Hunter, Kevin Slack, and Jonathan Zimmerman all present valid points and plausible theories concerning culture war in America. However I disagree with their methods for approaching the subject. By and large they tend to seek out various culture discrepancies that do exist in America and attempt to prove they have found the cause for the cultural polarization that is visible in politics. This has its problems in that there are many culture wars and sub culture wars which grow and decline over
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Balloga, 3 time. It is difficult to name one, or even a combination of conflicts, as the prominent source for cultural strife in America. I think it is more effective to find a large scale division in American voters without taking into account issues. This means first discovering evidence in national election data indicative of polarization. Secondly you conduct a study in order to prove that a divide exist does in fact exist.
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