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Republicans and Democrats in the US House of Representatives have become increasingly polarized. What does this mean? What are the consequences of this phenomenon?

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In the realm of politics, polarization refers to two groups, like two political parties, taking opposite sides of an issue in such a way that at least one of their positions reaches to extremes, prohibiting compromise and sometimes even discussion. We can see this happening between Democrats and Republicans in...

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In the realm of politics, polarization refers to two groups, like two political parties, taking opposite sides of an issue in such a way that at least one of their positions reaches to extremes, prohibiting compromise and sometimes even discussion. We can see this happening between Democrats and Republicans in the United States House of Representatives over issues like the budget, abortion, economics, immigration, and defense.

When polarization occurs, it is much more difficult to reach agreements that satisfy (or even partly satisfy) both sides. Further, such polarization can hold up legislation and create serious conflicts and resentments. Gridlocks arise that seriously harm the lawmaking process, and personal grudges and agendas come into play much more often.

Certainly polarization is becoming more and more of an issue in the American public, especially among those who identify strongly with the Republican or Democratic parties. A Pew research study shows that the ideological divide has widened over the two decades from 1994 to 2014. Further, more and more Americans are seeing the other party as a threat to the country's well-being. The polarization is less pronounced for people who do not hold firmly to one party or another. These Americans often blend conservative and liberal ideas.

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