Is the United States a Deeply Divided Country?

One of Colin Woodard’s main ideas in American Nations is that the United States is a deeply divided country. “Americans,” argues Woodard, “have been deeply divided since the days of Jamestown and Plymouth,” and that division continues today as “its citizenry is deeply divided along regional lines, with some in the ‘Tea Party’ movement adopting the rhetoric of the eighteenth-century Yankee minutemen, only with the British Parliament replaced by the federal Congress, and George III by their duly elected president.”

Woodard’s concerns are echoed on a daily basis by the media: Americans are deeply divided on foreign policy. Americans are deeply divided about the causes of poverty. Americans are deeply divided about same-sex marriage. And on and on. We’ve also allegedly become a nation suffering from confirmation bias: we listen to media outlets and pundits who confirm our preconceived beliefs, values, and ideas, and we don’t challenge ourselves to consider other perspectives and ways of looking at the world. Some people go to their Fox News silo, others go to the MSNBC silo. Some scholars have also lamented the state of America’s deep divide. For example, John Fea, in his fine publication on the importance of studying history, asserts that historical literacy may offer a possible avenue for healing the “wounds” caused by deep political divisions in society today.

To be sure, political divisions do exist in the United States, and Woodard is absolutely correct that political conflict has always been a staple of American history. Part one of American Nations is an entertaining and engaging read because Woodard deftly shows how colonial settlers from different parts of Europe did in fact have a wide range of ideas about governance, religion, and culture. The founding fathers of the United States were not a politically unified group of men who had a clear vision for the future of this new country, and all too often essays purporting to explain “what the founders believed” can go too far in painting a rosy picture of the past with some sort of “lesson of American history” that more accurately reflects a political agenda rather than a serious dialogue with history.

Nevertheless, I believe the term “deeply divided country” has become a loaded term devoid of meaning in contemporary political discourse. What do we mean when we say we are a “deeply divided country”? More specifically, what does it mean to be divided “deeply”? When we say we’re divided, shouldn’t we look back at past divisions to compare our current problems with past circumstances? It is easy to forget that newspapers in the nineteenth century made no bones about “objectivity” and often acted as mouthpieces for their preferred political parties. Here in Indianapolis there were two major newspapers during the Civil War–the Indianapolis Journal (Republican) and the Indiana State Sentinel (Democrat)–that provided radically different interpretations of events during the war. Additionally, when it came close to an upcoming election, these papers would provide a list of candidates to look for when voting. I have no doubt that Indianapolis readers at that time went to their respective “media silos” to hear what they wanted to hear and confirm their own views of the world, just like people today. The major difference, of course, was that the “deeply divided country” of the antebellum era engaged in a war in which upwards of 750,000 Americans died, something that our supposedly “deeply divided country” today hasn’t had to endure.

The political scientist Morris P. Fiorina offers what I believe to be a much needed corrective to this “deeply divided country” narrative. In Culture War? The Myth of a Polarized Nation Fiornia argues that most Americans are not politically radical or firmly in the camp of Republicans or Democrats. While acknowledging that divisions do exist in the U.S., Fiorina convincingly demonstrates that pollsters seeking to find an opinion on a hot-button topic like abortion often poll “political elites” and “activists” who are firmly entrenched in their own views and respective political parties. It is the parties themselves that have become more polarized, not necessarily the voters. In reality, roughly 10-15% of the population is strongly Republican, 10-15% is Democrat, and the rest probably falls under a “centrist” camp not strongly committed to either side. Is that reflective of a “deeply divided country,” or does it more accurately reflect just a “divided country” that will always need room for debate, discussion, and disagreement in order to preserve and enhance a democratic form of government? Perhaps it is time to start using the term “deeply divided country” with more care and precision than we’ve been using it in recent years.

With this essay I will end my review my Colin Woodard’s American Nations. As I’ve worked my way through the book, I’ve attempted to point out good arguments, criticize incorrect ones, and raise questions about the nature of the historian’s craft. In my opinion, I believe Woodard would have been much more successful in his arguments had he not taken his analysis all the way up to 2010. Part one of American Nations convinced me that there existed prior to the American Revolution a wide range of “nations” composed of people with a common culture, shared historical experiences, and distinct artifacts and symbols. As the narrative progresses closer to 2010, however, the arguments become less convincing, and it is an undeniable fact that a range of technologies–telephones, trains, radios, televisions, computers, the internet–have connected citizens of the United States in ways that would have been unimaginable in 1591 (although we certainly still have plenty of cultural differences). It’s also important to point out that while this book relies heavily on data obtained from political scientists, today’s political campaigning in the U.S. does not reflect a country composed of eleven(ish) nations. Political candidates don’t conceive of campaign strategies for recruiting interest in the “Midlands” or “New France” or “New Netherlands.” Politicians of course realize that differences exist in the country, but much of those differences still fall on a perceived “North-South-East-West” political axis.

Perhaps using this 288 page narrative to analyze the eleven nations from 1591-1787 rather than 400+ years of history would have been more convincing for me, but then again, the NPR interviews, press attention, and my own awareness of the book may not have existed had that sort of book been published. Nevertheless, anyone who tries to write 400+ years of history in less than 300 pages has a huge challenge on their hands, one I would not feel comfortable tackling.

Rather than making an explicit recommendation one way or the other on purchasing American Nations, I would encourage readers to consider the arguments I’ve proposed here (just click on the “Eleven Nations of North America” category to the right to see my other essays) and make their own conclusions as to whether American Nations is worth purchasing. While I had disagreements with some of Woodard’s arguments, I found the book thought-provoking, entertaining, and a great challenge for my critical thinking skills. That in itself made the book a worthwhile read for me.


23 thoughts on “Is the United States a Deeply Divided Country?

  1. Nick,
    Wonderful as usual. Regarding the question of “deeply divided” the people of the United States have always been divided. There have always been two major parties who have (except for a brief stint from 1850-1875) always been divided over the role of government. Should it larger or smaller? Should government have a major place in people’s lives or stay out of the way?
    This is not a new issue. The Federalists and Anti-Federalists were divided over this same issue. So were New Dealers and Republicans in the 1930s and 40s. It amuses me how people get so focused on the now they convince themselves that now is all that ever existed.
    That being said there is one worrisome trend I’ve noticed. People are not just following their own media (great example with Civil War newspapers by the way) but moving to like minded people along political lines. Today the most divisive aspect for Americans is not religion but politics. If demographic migrations increases enough we could see physical divides along the country. A sectarian difference would be dangerous. But, if that happens, it is a long way away.

    Great review. I am regularly impressed with your work.


    1. Hi Nathan,

      Thanks so much for the kind words. It is definitely easy to get lost in the here and now and forget that many of the questions we ask about American citizenship and governance today are similar to those asked long ago, although the circumstances and contexts may be different. In that regard I wholeheartedly with John Fea in that studying history sheds new light on our present-day context and challenges us to use caution before making bold claims without an appreciation of past issues.

      Regarding demographic migrations, Woodard makes a point of mentioning this trend in part four of “American Nations.” To be honest it’s not something I’m very familiar with, but I agree with you in that if anything resembling a political-physical divide were to emerge, it would be years in the making.

      Thanks for reading and commenting, Nathan. I really appreciate it.

    2. Nick, It has been said that the USA has never been united, either in purpose, principles, or political behavior. We’ve never been a nation-state in the European sense; we’re a federation of nations, more akin to the European Union than the Republic of France, and this confounds efforts to find common ground and political campaigns to force one component nation’s values on the others.

      Numerous studies have indicated that the most successful nations in terms of per capita income, GDP, democracy, liberty, efficiency, freedom, even education and health care, are under Switzerland’s size of 7.7 million people, and a majority of those are under 5 million.

      This is surely the reason that the world has seen an enormous expansion in the number of nations over the last 70 years. When the United Nations was begun in 1945 there were 51 recognized nations, today there are 193 (excluding Taiwan and the Vatican), the vast majority of them small. The lesson of this past century is that multicultural empires (including the American multicultural empire) don’t work and are likely to create the wars that bring such misery and destruction, and that smaller units are far more stable, peaceful, prosperous, and efficient.

      1. I disagree with your belief that the US is a federation of nations. It is not. The individual states gave up their sovereignty in 1789 to form a complete nation, not one of sovereign states such as existed under the Article of Confederation. That was 11 out of the original 13 states with the other two to follow. The rest of the states with the exception of Texas were US territories or parts of other states (Maine) before becoming states and never had any sovereignty to begin with.

        The idea of a federation fails quickly because the compact theory is erroneous. The framework of government established through the US Constitution did not in any way use the compact theory of government no matter what some wish to believe.

        1. You took my comment literally. My point was that the US behaves like a federation of nations. It matters not what you call something. What matters is whether such a thing performs consistent with your definition. The whole reason behind a “united” states was that the USA could not ever agree to become one nation because of all the various “state” differences. They were simply unable to bring themselves together under of entity that covered the whole nation. Just as they have been “united” at times, they have been “dis-united” at times such as the time around 1860. We are moving very quickly as a group of “Red States” and “Blue States” to that same political circumstances.

          At bottom line, is the fact that the “founding fathers” had no idea – and no intention — that the USA would eventually look demographically/ethnically like it does now. That means that the “self-correcting” protections built into the Constitution don’t work because the current 2016 “audience” is totally different demographically from what they intended. This is a very, very important distinction and is hardly grasped yet by the masses.


  2. Nice work. Let me add some thoughts. It is Kevin Phillips, in his studies of the various civil wars, from the English Civil War to the American, that points out that ethnicity and religion were the biggest determinants of which side you were on. Phillips explains how religious, ethnic, geographic, and class-based identities affect the loyalties of different groups. The implicit logic of his analysis suggests that the Revolution took place because the social, cultural, and economic factors he surveys converged in the mid-1770s to make Americans into revolutionaries. The United States began as an implicit ethnic state, whose Protestant European identity was taken for granted. As a result, the founding fathers made few remarks about ethnicity, but John Jay famously stated in 1787 that America was ‘one united people, a people descended from the same ancestors, speaking the same language, professing the same religion, attached to the same principles of government, very similar in their manners and customs.”’ a prominent statement in one of the republic’s founding philosophical documents that attracted no disagreement. Race (ethnicity) is the key building block of any real community and the farthest meaningful grouping to which we can give our loyalty. We know that genetic similarity and kinship patterns affect our behavior every day, even in ways we don’t expect. We know that children are race conscious as early as nine months. We know that people are mentally healthier in ethnically homogenous societies. We know diversity destroys social trust, eventually, even within members of the same ethnic group. The ancients knew this, and modern science confirms it.

    The Father of our Country, George Washington, was not primarily motivated by egalitarian rhetoric. He was infuriated by British attempts to restrict westward expansion and thought the British were holding the Americans back. His vision of the new nation was that of a “rising empire.”

    Thomas Jefferson, the man who wrote that “all men are created equal,” went on to condemn in that same document the “merciless Indian savages.” Jefferson also said that while it was certain that black slavery would someday be brought to an end, it was “equally certain” that blacks and whites could not live together under the same government.

    Liberals in the 19th century were fervent supporters of nationalism and the essential importance of being part of a community with shared traditions and common ancestry. None of these liberals ever envisioned the nations of Europe and the USA as mere places identified by liberal values belonging to everyone else and obligated to become “welcome” mats for the peoples of the world.

    Our society’s frantic efforts to escape these truths gives us the farce that passes for a public debate in a multiethnic democracy. We set up entire social systems and ideologies at odds with our most basic instincts, and wonder why the world seems to have lost its mind.

    For most of its history, the U.S. was a European-derived nation with a small “minority” population. As recently as 1970 the USA was 84 percent white, 11 percent black, and just 4 percent Hispanic. Although Mexican immigration (both legal and illegal) had been increasing since the end of the Bracero program in 1964, Mexican Americans were still less than 3 percent of the population, with many claiming U.S. ancestry stretching back to the Mexican-American war.

    The evidence that diversity and solidarity are negatively correlated comes from many different settings:

    Across workgroups in the United States, as well as in Europe, internal heterogeneity (in terms of age, professional background, ethnicity, tenure and other factors) is generally associated with lower group cohesion, lower satisfaction and higher turnover (Jackson et al. 1991; Cohen & Bailey 1997; Keller 2001; Webber & Donahue 2001) 

    Across countries, greater ethnic heterogeneity seems to be associated with lower social trust (Newton & Delhey 2005; Anderson & Paskeviciute 2006;  

    Across local areas in the United States, Australia, Sweden, Canada and Britain, greater ethnic diversity is associated with lower social trust and, lower investment in public goods and infrastructure (Poterba 1997; Alesina et al. 1999; Alesina & La Ferrara 2000, 2002; Costa & Kahn 2003b; Vigdor 2004; Glaeser & Alesina 2004; Leigh 2006; Jordahl & Gustavsson 2006; Soroka et al. 2007; Pennant 2005;

    In a recent article for Foreign Affairs, Kenan Malik, a columnist for The International New York Times, decried “The Failure of Multiculturalism—Community Versus Society in Europe,” and the lessons learned there, as he describes them in detail, are object lessons for every “Office of Multiculturalism” fiefdom in every university and city across America. “Thirty years ago,” he writes, “many Europeans saw multiculturalism—the embrace of an inclusive, diverse society—as an answer to Europe’s social problems. Today, a growing number consider it to be a cause of them,” producing, “a mismatch that has eroded social cohesion, undermined national identities, and degraded public trust.”

    It is only recently that the USA is getting an actual sense of what it means to be a multicultural democracy and it seems clear that the reality doesn’t meet the idealized and utopian theory for many Americans.

    1. Dear Frank,

      First off, thanks for taking the time to read this essay. I appreciate it.

      I am not sure if you are the same “Frank” that commented on this post about six months ago decrying “cultural Marxism” and “multiculturalism,” but the tone of this particular comment suggests that you are in fact the same person. I deleted that initial comment because I thought it was in poor taste, off-topic, and, quite frankly, bordering on racism. I’m letting this one through because it’s not quite as bad, but I believe much of what you’re suggesting is subject to debate and based more on personal feelings than empirical fact.

      For example, the United States has always been a “multicultural” society. People of color and immigrants of all backgrounds have always been a part of this country’s history. John Jay’s comments are reflective of his views towards the free white people of the United States and does much to wash out the presence of people of color–both free and enslaved–from the cultural demographics of that time period. If his comments hold true–that the country’s (white) population would be bonded together through a shared ethnicity–if bears asking why these people who prayed to the same God, spoke the same language, and enjoyed many of the same cultural practices still ended up engaging in a bloody civil war eighty years later. Perhaps ethnicity is not the only factor for determining social cohesion, and that probing the economic and political structure of early and antebellum America would reveal more fruitful explanations beyond those of ethnicity. (Race and ethnicity are not one in the same, by the way).

      Also, ethnicity is not always the building block of any “real” community or social trust. In fact, one of the studies you cite (Alesina & La Ferrara, 2000) explicitly states that “religious beliefs and ethnic origins do not significantly affect trust” (207). What constitutes a “real” community is dependent on many factors, once again far beyond ethnicity and also reflective of political ideologies, economics, cultural practices, religious practices, and the collective ethics and values of the community, to name a few other factors. Under your definition none of the western world would constitute a “real” community for at least the past fifty or 100 years because they are now multi-ethic. I disagree with that. And what about countries like Malaysia that have enjoyed economic success while being multi-cultural?

      While it’s true that the political machinery of the country has historically been operated primarily by whites, the idea that the USA has only recently become a “multicultural democracy” (we are actually a republic, not a democracy, by the way) is simply ahistorical. Who are the many Americans frustrated with the failed “reality” of multiculturalism? Your passive declaration leaves me confused. If you’re trying to say that many white Americans are angry about the direction of their country and what they consider to be a loss of their freedoms and liberties, then come out and say it. I would agree that many white Americans seem angry right now as we head towards the 2016 presidential election.

      Furthermore, while you are correct about Washington’s motives for joining the Patriot cause and Jefferson’s claims about all men being created equal while simultaneously saying degrading things about Indians and arguing that whites and blacks could not live together, it’s unfortunate that rather than repudiating those comments for the falsehoods they are, you declare them as “truths” and go on about the loss of public debate. If those “truths” are the starting point of your intellectual claims, you should not be surprised when people look upon your views skeptically or choose not to engage you in debate.

      I could go on, but I’ll stop there. I have put a lot of time into responding to your comment, and while I appreciate you taking the time to start the conversation, I believe it would not fruitful if we continued. You believe that the US is “deeply divided” because of immigration, racial diversity, and a culture of multiculturalism. I don’t believe the US is “deeply divided” solely because of race and ethnicity and would suggest that if the country is truly divided–which I’m still not convinced of–those divisions fall along economic lines, religious lines, and along hot-button social issues like abortion and campaign finance. There are many racial problems in the United States, but most of those problems exist because of racism, not “race relations” or “multiculturalism.” Good day.

      1. I guess it doesn’t surprise me that you want to deny the reality of science and history as well as “ban” such truths from your monologue web site. There is so much about the study of evolutionary theory that you have not properly recognized. You obviously seek to have people post who sustain your need for confirmation bias. There is much that I could say that would inform you and guide you to see what is happening in the US as well as the European Union but I can see that you aren’t interested in the facts.

        On the chance that you might wander past a good college or university some day, drop in and take some coursework on this subject. The biosocial sciences most relevant to understanding society consists of disciplines are those that study the naturalistic causes of social behavior: ethology, evolutionary psychology, biological anthropology, behavioral endocrinology, and brain science. All these fields of study illuminate facets of human nature, especially those universal to the species. Evolutionary theory is part of the tool kit of behavioral biology, useful for generating hypotheses about ultimate causes.

        I have my undergraduate degree in science ( my MBA is in Organization Behavior) so naturally gathering the facts and trying to maintain the clarity of thinking without distracting emotions is a byword for me. You should try it sometime…

        1. Thanks for the kind response, Frank, and thanks for confirming that you are in fact the author of the since-deleted post that did not meet my standards for commenting on this website.

          Rather than addressing the content of my response and the questions I raise about your claims, you have chosen to condescendingly wag your finger at me like a doting parent and make ridiculous claims about me not being interested in facts while also suggesting that my thoughts are clouded by emotion and confirmation bias. You’ve resorted to labels and name-calling instead of directly responding to substance.

          If you feel that I am so mistaken in my understanding of evolutionary thinking, I welcome the opportunity to learn from you. Throughout my university training at both the BA and MA levels I have studied sociology, psychology, anthropology, political science, and a little bit of science, particularly the history of science. Apparently, however, I have strayed in my educational endeavors and have missed something along the way. In all seriousness, please tell me what I should read to better understand your frame of mind. What is the “reality” (a rather loaded term) of history and science that I am missing?

          Also, just as an FYI, blogging is not a free-speech endeavor. You do not get to say whatever you want while forcing me to approve every one of your comments. I open the comments section as a courtesy to readers in the hope that I can engage in fruitful conversation about topics of interest to me. This is my platform, and I am under no obligation to make it your platform. You can start your own website if you’re so inclined to create your own platform. In three and a half years of blogging there have been more than 1,000 comments on this site and I’ve learned a lot through those comments, including those that critiqued my arguments and challenged me to think differently. That is not what I’d call a “monologue website,” but our definitions may differ since there is a slight degree of moderation on my part in determining what counts as a civil comment here.

          I reserve the right to moderate the comments section at my discretion based on rules I set on the “Disclaimer” page on this website, and thankfully I have only had to ban one person from commenting during this whole time (and by the way, you are not “banned” from commenting here, as the above evidence of your continued commenting shows). And, just so you remember, that blocked comment included your argument that “at some point whites may demand an end to being punished because of minority failure.” You’re entitled to that unfortunate view, whatever the hell you’re trying to get to, but I don’t have agree with it, respect it, or give it space on my website.

          I welcome any reading recommendations you may have to set me on the “right direction,” but if you resort to name calling the comment will be deleted, plain and simple.

          1. Since you mentioned your academic credentials, I have a BS undergraduate degree and an MBA in Organization Behavior from the University of Washington. You can start your study by reading the book by Dr. Byron Roth in his 2010 book “The Perils of Diversity: Immigration and Human Nature” . Then examine the work entitled “Race, Evolution, and Behavior: A Life History Perspective (3rd Edition) by J. Philippe Rushton.

            Some quick reads follow which are mostly reports of academic studies:

            The genome of history: DNA explains more than you think

            Neal, Zachary P. et al. “The (In)compatibility of Diversity and Sense of Community.” Am J Community Psychol (2014)


            Click to access Rushton-Jensen30years.pdf

            Good Fences: The Importance of Setting Boundaries for Peaceful Coexistence
            Published: May 21, 2014

            IFS Working Paper (W15/30)
            Melting pot or salad bowl: the formation of heterogeneous communities

            Study Asks: Is a ‘Better World’ Possible?
            November 18, 2013. Michigan State University Identity, Homophily and In-Group Bias
            June 21, 2012

            FEEM Working Paper No. 37.2012
            Many social Interactions display either or both of the following well documented phenomena. People tend to interact with similar others (homophily). And they tend to treat others more favorably if they are perceived to share the same identity (in-group bias). We also show that homophily is strongly correlated with risk aversion.

            Many have noted that Americans’ social networks are not politically diverse (Huckfeldt and Sprague 1995; Mutz and Martin 2001) and that people appear increasingly likely to live near like-minded citizens (Bishop 2008; Gimpel and Schuknecht 2004).

            For years, policymakers have attempted to create communities where a diverse group of residents not only live close to one other but also interact freely – in other words, neighborhoods that are both integrated and socially cohesive. But that might be a lost cause, a Michigan State University sociologist argues in a study.
            As reported in the American Journal of Community Psychology, Zachary Neal found that neighborhood integration and cohesion cannot co-exist.
            “Is a better world possible? Unfortunately, these findings show it may not be possible to simultaneously create communities that are both fully integrated and fully cohesive”. “It’s not that local leaders and policymakers aren’t trying hard enough,” Neal said. “Rather, we now think it’s because the goals of integration and cohesion are just not compatible with each other.”

            This list of publications from the Center for Evolutionary Psychology at UC Santa Barbara might provide you some interesting browsing:

            And lastly, for now, I want to make sure you are aware of the findings of Robert Putnam:

            Harvard professor of political science Robert D. Putnam conducted a nearly decade long study how multiculturalism affects social trust. [ Putnam, Robert D., “E Pluribus Unum: Diversity and Community in the Twenty-first Century — The 2006 Johan Skytte Prize,” Scandinavian Political Studies 30 (2), June 2007.]

            He surveyed 26,200 people in 40 American communities, finding that when the data were adjusted for class, income and other factors, the more racially diverse a community is, the greater the loss of trust. People in diverse communities “don’t trust the local mayor, they don’t trust the local paper, they don’t trust other people and they don’t trust institutions,” writes Putnam. In the presence of such ethnic diversity, Putnam maintains that:
            “We hunker down. We act like turtles. The effect of diversity is worse than had been imagined. And it’s not just that we don’t trust people who are not like us. In diverse communities, we don’t trust people who don’t look like us.”


        2. The situation in Europe is far different than the one here in the US. Devolution in Europe falls along geographic lines there, but not here. One could say certain areas are more likely than others to be one way or another, but no area in this nation has an overwhelming majority like geographic areas in Europe do that favor devolution.

          The development of the US is completely different than Europe’s development over time. If you wish to start bringing up facts, that’s fine, but we would have to examine what those facts are first.

          1. You’re belief that the situation in the EU/Europe is different has very little agreement with those dealing with the issues. In fact, what makes the US and the countries undergoing strife in Europe such as France and Germany is the multicultural invasion of cultures that are deeply different from the host countries.

            Cosmopolitanism is the ideology that all human beings belong to a single community based on an inclusive morality, a shared economic relationship, or a political structure that encompasses different nations. A nice thought but human nature trumps such utopian beliefs. Something we know from the study of group dynamics is that compromise is only possible among competing interests when they can agree on an overarching goal. That has been impossible in the US in the last decade. Our society’s multicultural and diverse admixture has taken away what we once had in the way of commonality of purpose. Absent the commonality of purpose, compromise is impossible. Compromise in American politics requires unity of purpose, and as such is a virtue that is distinctly American. Citizens are deeply divided about who should get the benefits of government and under what conditions. This problem has been made extraordinarily difficult by the cultural diversity in the country.

            Cultural diversity in France, Germany as well as other democracies practicing multiculturism and programs of social diversity, are having the same problems.

            The sad but inescapable reality is that America today is a nation in decline. More and more, we are a country of apathy, alienation, and distrust of public institutions. Accelerating this trend is the multiculturalism fueled by mass immigration. As our common culture erodes, we have no effective standards to acculturate our younger generations, let alone assimilate a massive flow of immigrants. It appears that continued division and balkanization now loom ahead.

        3. Thanks for the recommendations, Frank. I will start with the short-read articles first.

          Also, since we’ve previously talked about “bias” in this conversation, I note that Dr. Roth’s book is published by Washington Summit Publishers, which was run at one point by a managing editor of The Occidental Quarterly, has published books supporting antisemitism and eugenics, and is classified by the Southern Poverty Law Center as a White Nationalist Group. That gives me a pretty clear idea of where you’re coming from on this discussion. Thanks.

          1. Putnam seems to be taking a very different tack in addressing the lack of connectedness in America via the Saguaro Seminar at It looks like he and others are not sticking with the idea that multiculturalism is the problem, but rather a lack of civic engagement by all individuals.

            There is plenty of research on the benefits of multiculturalism out there as well. So please do not think that it is a failure because the evidence suggests that it is not.

            Canada has been researching its policy of multiculturalism for a while now:

            The field of education has been active in exploring multiculturalism for a long time and the John Hopkins School of Education has many publications along those lines:

            You have an opinion, Frank, and you presented evidence to support your claim. However, that is definitely not all of the evidence.

            I also find it interesting that what you selected on Putnam is what is found on Wikipedia, but doesn’t go into the rest of Putnam’s work which is a hell of a lot deeper and doesn’t seem to support the parts that are pulled out from his work.

            In fact, Putnam wrote in 2010 in this report:

            His conclusion was that young whites from upper middle class backgrounds were deeply engaged in their communities whereas those from blue collar backgrounds were not. This gap has not appeared in black youth. He did point out a white-black gap which needs to be addressed. Putnam’s research shows that more than anything, there is a problem with the interconnectiveness of people and social mobility.

            Now isn’t it interesting that recent liberal politics are attempting to address these issues while conservative politics do nothing to address the issues?

          2. I have read most, if not all, Putnam’s work. I have also studied the literature because my work in organizational consulting — Organization Development — was exclusively focused on dealing with “warring” groups. Putnam was naïve and was totally surprised by the outcome of his 10 year study. I see that same level of naivete all over the supposed educated masses in the USA.

            I made a very good living fixing those groups for many years. But the key element that had to be possible in those warring groups was whether they could/would establish an “overarching” goal which they would support. If I was unable to get that agreement, I turned down the engagement. Why? Because under those circumstances, no agreement was ever possible. That is the current situation in the USA with the Red States and the Blue States.

          3. The fact that you regard the Southern Poverty Law Center as a valid source of information about public policy tells me a great deal about your “coming from” on this discussion.

            This exchange probably isn’t going anywhere because I think your mind is made up. You can watch the continuing social strife build up and eventually watch it coming apart outside your window.

            It was John Stuart Mill who expressed this phenomena best when he wrote:

            “The real advantage which truth has, consists in this, that when an opinion is true, it may be extinguished once, twice, or many times, but in the course of ages there will generally be found persons to rediscover it, until some one of its reappearances falls on a time when from favorable circumstances it escapes persecution until it has made such head as to withstand all subsequent attempts to suppress it.” – John Stuart Mill


          4. Okay, Frank. We agree to disagree. I will repeat that I am attempting to meet you half way and proceed in good faith. I am interested in and will read the articles you have shared. That does not mean my “mind is made up,” but yes, I detest racism and will not bend on my belief that you are wrong when you talk about “minority failure” and go on about the superiority of white people and the inability of white and black people to live together. This country has always had social strife and while I’m concerned about the political climate of today’s society, I’m hopeful and confident that there’s a better tomorrow to look forward too. Too bad you feel down about the future of the United States. Good luck.

  3. Nick, know this about “racism” etc. “Racism, bigotry and xenophobe” are excellent examples of pejorative terms which seek to classify whole sets of behavior and ideas in a spurious and negative light. The terms are politically-motivated social constructs. In short, the only prejudice and ignorance really and truly seems to be the use of that term “xenophobe” or “racism” to perjure and denigrate a whole class of concerned citizens who seek merely to respect their ancestors, and to be concerned about the future and destiny of their children and the world.

    1. Frank, the conversation is over. You don’t get to have the last word. You and your “whole class of concerned citizens” are not the victims here, and it is not prejudicial or ignorant of me to call you what you are and do not work to disavow – a racist. It’s one thing to care about your ancestors and the future of the world – we all care about that. The difference is that you want white people–and only white people–to control the world’s affairs because you think white people are superior to others and incapable of living harmoniously with non-white people. You have stated that sentiment repeatedly in you comments on this post and it will come to a stop now. Good day.

      1. Looks like we know what we’re dealing with here. The line about a whole class of concerned citizens who seek merely to respect their ancestors sounds like he is referring to confederate heritage types who glorify traitors and think those dead men were right to support white supremacy.

        He doesn’t like being called racist when it is the outright truth. This isn’t about solving problems for him. It is about continuing the divisions and making them permanent. That’s what he and his types want. Well Frank, too bad. It isn’t going to happen.

        You should read Putnam’s recent work if you want to use his older material. You selected the research that supported your opinion only and that is the hallmark of poor scholarship. They teach that early in doctoral programs.

        1. “This isn’t about solving problems for him. It is about continuing the divisions and making them permanent.”

          Bingo! A good note to finish the conversation on.

          1. You have quite the Echo Chamber there with your little group of hand selected minions. Can you say Confirmation Bias? Take me off your respond list. Your blog is garbage.

          2. Get a life, Frank. I don’t have “hand selected minions” and I’ve already explained how this website works with regards to comments. Out of hundreds of commenters, conversations, and occasional mild disagreements you are literally the second person here in three years that has ever had such a serious problem with me. And I can’t do anything about the “respond list” – you put yourself there by commenting.

            Too bad you’ve gone from saying good job to now calling my blog garbage. I still plan to read what you’ve recommended to me and perhaps I will learn something new. But at the end of the day I suppose it’s a good thing I make white supremacists angry.

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