Barack Obama is banking on the country being ready to put division behind it. But I suspect this will be a particularly divisive election year, even more so than in the past.

There is plenty to unite us, from the war to the collapsing economy. But the suffering — lost homes, lost jobs, lost lives — hasn’t been enough to bring people together for a common cause, no matter what that cause might be.

What really divides us are the solutions to all of these problems, and it isn’t clear that we’re willing to coalesce around one particular fix for any of them.

Not that Americans need much reason to be divided. We had little apparent cause to argue with each other in 2000 yet somehow ended up with a very polarizing presidency.

People just disagree on politics, not always for rational reasons. No amount of economic or military disaster is going to change that. Indeed, if disasters provoked logical responses derived from a careful reading of the evidence, human beings certainly would have learned a bit more how to handle them by now.

Advertisements