Many Americans, if not most, want some type of national unity after the horrifying and despicable events of Jan. 6. But even if that’s what a majority of Americans want, accomplishing it will be extraordinarily difficult.
Last week’s events have exacerbated and intensified our partisan divisions, but they did not cause them. For years, activists on both the right and left have demonized each other as beyond the pale of reasonable discourse.
While rarely openly expressed in these terms, this undercurrent has been clear in polls. A Pew Research Center poll from September 2019 shows that across a number of characteristics, nearly three-quarters of both parties said they cannot agree on common facts. Majorities in both parties also say the other side doesn’t share nonpolitical values and goals with them. One can only imagine how these numbers look today after the events of the past year and a half.
Henry Olsen is a senior fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center.