Here, in map form, is a picture of America’s growing polarization (from the New York Times):
The meaning is simple — Americans are increasingly likely to live in like-minded communities. American polarization is a well-documented phenomenon, but what makes these maps more ominous is the awareness that polarization is not just geographic, but increasingly geographically contiguous. Our respective bubbles are getting bigger, and the reddest sections of America are linking with each other.
Simply put, this is how nations ultimately separate. I’m not saying that separation is imminent or at all likely, but it is worth noting the trends — trends that are continually exacerbated as many like-minded communities grow increasingly intolerant of dissent.
Bill Bishop wrote about our geographic separation in his book, The Big Sort, making the point that it’s hard to understand people we don’t know. It was true when he published his book in 2009, and it’s more true now. It will be worth watching the 2016 map. Will it be even worse?