Hyper-partisan America


In a Hill Blog article, on the 20th Anniversary of 9-11 terrorist attacks, H.W. Brands (a presidential historian and professor at the University of Texas at Austin) writes that we are so hyper-partisan ‘not even another 9/11 would pull the nation together’. Dr. Brands writes:

COVID-19, which struck the U.S. during Trump’s last year in office, raised the anxiety in America to an entirely new level. As the death toll mounted — beyond the Revolutionary War, beyond the Korean War, beyond the Vietnam War, beyond World War I, beyond World War II — Americans increasingly wondered if there was anything they could control or count on. America’s wars had often produced a sense of unity, a feeling of pulling together; many Americans hoped for something similar against COVID-19. What they got was the hyper-partisanship that had elected Trump and which he continued to inflame, and new fronts of political conflict over masking and vaccines.

The abiding lesson of COVID-19 for America might be that nowadays not even a national emergency can overcome the divisive forces of politics. After 9/11, Americans rallied around President George W. Bush — perhaps too blindly, as the misbegotten war in Iraq revealed. COVID-19 produced nothing similar, and it suggests that not even another attack like 9/11 would pull the nation together; partisanship has pervaded everything.