Do you think you are living in a political bubble?
U.S. high school students can get free digital access to the New York Times until September 1, 2021.
America is increasingly politically polarized. In your opinion, how politically diverse is your neighborhood? Do you think your neighbors are mostly Democrats or Republicans? Do you think you live in a partisan bubble?
In “Do you live in a political bubble?” Gus Wezerek, Ryan D. Enos and Jacob Brown have designed an interactive tool to help you find out. Enter your address to see the Thousand Voters Political Party closest to you and see if the data matches your answers above.
In the following opinion piece, the authors examine how we ended up with such a segregated political landscape and what we can do about it:
More … than half of republicans believe that last year’s election was stolen from Donald Trump. Rather than dismissing allegations of electoral fraud, Republican lawmakers used the premise that the election was stolen to justify the restrictions on voting.
Mr. Trump probably deserves much of the blame for the widely held belief among Republicans that the election was illegitimate. But there’s another reason why so many Republicans might not believe Joe Biden won: They don’t live near people who voted for him.
Surveys have shown that Americans’ animosity towards the opposing political party is higher than it has been in decades. At the same time, we have seen that geographic political segregation has increased over the past 10 years. Could the two trends be linked?
“It’s a lot easier to demonize people on the other end of the political spectrum if you don’t know many of them personally,” said Richard D. Kahlenberg, senior researcher at the Century Foundation. “It is not a healthy situation for the country.”
The test continues:
In many places political segregation overlaps racial segregation. People of color, who tend to identify as Democrats, live in densely populated urban communities. Republicans, who are mostly white, are spread across suburbs and rural areas.
Our data reveals the racial and political segregation that exists even within cities. In Mobile, Alabama, for example, black Democrats live on the waterfront, while white Republicans are clustered further inland. This division has existed for over a century, in part because of the government’s racist housing policies.
In 1937, the Federal Home Owners’ Loan Corporation made a Mobile Map for the real estate industry to use when assessing the risk level of an area. Overall, Mobile’s black neighborhoods were shaded red and classified as ‘dangerous’, making it more difficult for residents to get loans or build enough wealth through homeownership. to move elsewhere.
Today, redlining continues under the guise of single-family zoning laws. By banning multi-family housing units, many communities have essentially locked out people of color who have less wealth and cannot afford higher down payments for single-family homes.
But even if racial segregation ended overnight, evidence suggests people would still be divided into red or blue communities.
The authors explore some possible remedies:
But for a more lasting solution, President Biden would have to dismantle the zoning laws that separated Democrats and Republicans in the first place.
Middle-income Democrats who can’t afford a single-family home should still be able to raise their children in a duplex with a front yard. And low-income young Republicans should not be excluded from the cultural amenities offered by city life.
By making it easier for Democrats and Republicans to coexist, President Biden could also restore some of our mutual trust. Our democracy only benefits.
Students, read the entire essay, then tell us:
Are you living in a political bubble? Were you surprised by the results of the interactive map? How has it confirmed or contradicted your perception of the political diversity of your community?
Richard D. Kahlenberg, Senior Researcher at the Century Foundation, says, “It’s a lot easier to demonize people on the other end of the political spectrum if you don’t know many personally.” How concerned should we be about the growing political bubbles in which Americans live? Which of the maps illustrating our segregated political landscape do you find the most interesting, the most stimulating or the most disturbing?
How important is the diversity of thoughts, information and points of view to you? Do you like surrounding yourself with like-minded people? Or do you make an effort to seek out people with different experiences, views and opinions? Do you have friends with different political views from yours? Do you like your beliefs to be questioned? Or do you prefer to have them confirmed and validated?
The writers ask, “This year’s violence on Capitol Hill is a frightening harbinger of the future of American democracy if our political parties move further apart. Is it too late to burst our political bubbles? How would you answer their question? Do you think it is too late to bridge the political divide? Or do you think we can still find ways to break out of partisan bubbles and have civil conversations?
What do you think of the remedies for our political isolation proposed in the essay, such as reforming discriminatory zoning policies? What other solutions do you think could get us out of our bubbles and build trust, open dialogue and better understanding?
What is your main conclusion from the article? Do we all need to burst our bubbles? Do you? What can you do now to bring more intellectual and political diversity into your life?