Continetti: Divisions in the Country Are Larger Than Trump

November 25, 2018

Washington Free Beacon editor in chief Matthew Continetti said on Sunday the divisions in the country are larger than President Donald Trump.

After the "Fox News Sunday" panel got started discussing partisanship and political polarization, anchor Chris Wallace mentioned how Trump's predecessor said his biggest regret was his failure to unite the country.

"Look at Trump's immediate predecessor, Barack Obama," Wallace said. "There wasn't lollipops and unicorns in Washington then, and in fact the president said at the end of his term that one of his great failures was he failed to unify the country. So I think putting this all on Trump isn't really fair."

Continetti concurred and posited two primary factors for the viciousness of politics at present, both of which predate Trump's administration.

"I agree. President Obama, of course, did criticize judges, his famous rebuke of the court after the Citizens United decision. He did criticize media, specifically this network. This is larger than President Trump," Continetti said. "What has happened I think is twofold. The first is our politics is less and less about who gets what, and more about much larger concepts like values, principles, rights. And when politics is about that, then the arguments are much more vicious and much more sustained."

Continetti said the second factor is communication technology.

"We call it social media, but it's actually quite depersonalizing, and once you are on the social networks I think you feel liberated to really show your worst self. So when I'm looking at how we can kind of change things, I think it's human, person-to-person contacts. And I saw that recently with Dan Crenshaw, the congressman who went on 'SNL' after he was insulted, and even Carlos Curbelo, who actually met with someone who had threatened his life, and they ended up holding a joint press conference together."

Continetti also noted how the divide in the country is becoming geographical.

"One other thing that I think is particular worrisome to me, is that the polarization—I actually don't think most Americans are polarized, but the polarization in the political class is now taking on a geographic dimension. If you look at those election results, what did we see? We saw suburbs voting like suburbs whether they were in the north or the south. This is something new. We saw rural areas voting like rural areas whether they are in the Midwest or the West or in the South."

"So now the key factor in our politics isn't so much regional, it's density," Continetti added. "It's how many people are around you, and the more people that are around you, the more likely you are to be liberal. Once these geographic cleavages emerge, I think they're very difficult to resolve."