Thomas Edsall, writing in the New York Times, cites a number of academic studies that demonstrate what most of us have already seen. Partisan hate is on the increase.
One academic paper with the title “Lethal Mass Partisanship” found that just over 42 percent of the people in each political party views the opposition as “downright evil.” He then concludes that 48.8 million voters “who cast ballots in 2016 believe that members of the opposition party are in league with the devil.”
He also cites another arresting statistic. “What if the opposing party wins the 2020 election? How much do you feel violence would be justified then?” The study found that 18.3 percent of Democrats and 13.8 percent of Republicans said violence would be justified on a scale ranging from “a little” to “a lot.”
Later in his commentary, he cites another academic study that concludes that on both sides of the political aisle, the best-informed voters are by far the most partisan. We would expect that well-educated, well-informed people might be able to pull the electorate out of this morass.
David French, writing in National Review, repeats this idea. He says, “In a time of crisis, American citizens often look for guidance and take their cues from the subset of American citizens who are most engaged and informed. Yet study after study is now showing that this cohort of Americans is driving the engine of American division.”
If we are to turn this around, we need pastors and Christian leaders working in the political arena to set an example. Political thought leaders are the ones driving much of the division and partisan hate in America. Christian leaders should not give into this division and conflict, but provide examples of grace and civility.