Modern US Politics




justice root out extraordinary
thug confines determine
vermin issue (3) inflection point
indict witness administration
delight minority shape (2)
feud simmer conservative
boil (2) shift (2) apply (2)
federal aisle (2) distinguished
yield mean (3) deliberately
debate congress stand/stood/stood (2)
conflict right (5) range (2)
reform propose challenge
seem division punctuate (2)
sense based on point blank
sedate purpose expressed (2)
chaos erupt (2) accelerate (2)
reckon tone (2) tear/tore/torn
jury cover (2) count (3)
domain obstruct conspiracy
crisis stuck (2) foundation
trust threaten rule of law
respect election address (2)
anchor partisan walks of life
gear up dynamic pathway (2)
betray overturn retribution
explore defraud challenge
analyze dialogue think tank
design opinion demographics
gap intensity crossroads
intense abortion representative
overlap apparent pronounced (2)
size share (3) charge (2)
sort virtually automatic
trend striking stereotype
poll (2) immoral point of view
side (2) spike (3) choose/chose/chosen
focus disagree focus group
avoid civil war throw/threw/thrown
merge identity productive


Video (8:30, 10, 15 min)





Protest Leader: “What do we want?”
Protesters: “Justice!”
Protest Leader: “When do we want it?”
Protesters: “Now!

Demonstrators: “We won’t go back! We won’t go back! Shame on you! Shame on you!”

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We are living through an extraordinary time . . .

Donald Trump, US President 2017 to 2020: “We will root out the communists, Marxists, fascists, and the radical left thugs that live like vermin within the confines of our country.”

Joe Biden, US President, from 2021: “I believe America’s at an inflection point, one of those moments that determine the shape of everything that’s to come after.”

Judy Woodruff, Journalist: “Would you agree with Governor Carter, Dr. Kreps, that it’s difficult to find qualified women to . . .”

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It’s a far different world than the one I witnessed when I first came to Washington, in 1977, to cover President Jimmy Carter. I stayed on to report on every administration since, interviewing presidents, senators, representatives, and many more on both sides of the aisle about a range of issues.

Judy Woodruff, News Anchor: “A feud that has been simmering for weeks between Democrats and a group of conservative Republicans finally reached the boiling point.”

But over time, I began to sense that things were shifting in Washington, that the tone was changing.

Newt Gingrich, US Speaker of the House of Representatives: “I’m always delighted to yield to our distinguished Speaker.”

Rep Thomas P. O’Neill, D-Mass, Speaker of the Hose: “You deliberately stood in that well before and emptied house and challenged these people, and you challenged their Americanism. And it’s the lowest thing that I’ve ever seen in my 32 years in Congress.”

The big debates over differences like taxes and spending, conflicts overseas, and the rights of minorities became more personal and meaner.

Barrack Obama, US President, 2009 to 2017: “The reforms I’m proposing would not apply to those who are here illegally.”
Senator: “You lie!” [ Groaning ]

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Away from Washington, there seemed to be a growing sense of division in this country, punctuated by terrible acts of violence based in hatred of race, religion, and politics.

Newscaster: “(Congresswoman) Giffords remains sedated three days after being shot in the head at point-blank range.”

Sheriff Spokesperson: “This individual came here with the expressed purpose of taking as many black lives as he possibly could.”

A sense of division only accelerated under President Donald Trump and which nearly tore the country apart.

News Reporter: “Chaos erupted at the U.S. Capitol today when…”

Even now, as the memory of January 6th fades and the justice system reckons with what happened that day…

News Anchor: “A federal grand jury here has indicted former president Donald Trump on four counts, including conspiracy to defraud the United States and obstruction of an official proceeding.”

The country seems stuck in an identity crisis, with divisions threatening the very foundation of our democracy — things like trust in elections, the rule of law, and respect for free and open dialogue.

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Since stepping away from anchoring our nightly program last year, I’ve been traveling the country, talking to Americans of all walks of life…

Male Citizen, Left: “As soon as Donald Trump became president, I mean, the party was foreign to me.”

Female Citizen: “We have a lot of issues that are becoming partisan, but, really, they’re human issues. And human issues should never be a partisan thing.”

Male Citizen, Right: “Our country is going into such a liberal pathway that it’s almost gone too far.”

I’ve been trying to better understand what’s driving Americans apart

Demonstrators: “We love Trump! We love Trump!”

Now, as the country gears up for yet another divisive national election, with the likely Republican nominee facing dozens of federal charges, including ones related to his efforts to overturn the last election.

Donald Trump, US President, 2017 to 2020: “I am your warrior, I am your justice, and for those who have been wronged and betrayed, I am your retribution, I am your retribution.”

the challenges for our country, our democracy, and our time have not passed.

In this hour, we’ll explore some of what we’ve learned from our reporting about the divisions we face and we’ll ask, what can be done to continue the difficult work of building a more perfect union? I’m Judy Woodruff, and this is “America at a Crossroads.

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The first step in trying to address what was happening was to name it, and that led me to the Pew Research Center, the non-partisan think tank in Washington that, for decades, has studied public opinion, demographics, and social issues.

There, I met Carroll Doherty and Jocelyn Kiley, who design and analyze polls that Americans take online, attempting to capture how they think and feel about issues and how those feelings change over time.

Carroll Doherty, Pew Research Center: “The country is more divided, certainly along partisan lines, than we’ve seen it. There have been divisions in the past along other lines, but this is a moment where the divisions are deeper than ever and the intensity of dislike for the other side is probably deeper than ever, as well.”

Jocelyn Kiley, Pew Research Center: “I think it’s fair to say, on virtually every issue domain you can think about, the gap between Republicans and Democrats is bigger than it was 20 or 30 years ago.

And so when I say that, I mean on, say, immigration, on abortion, and gun policy, on size of government. There have always been partisan gaps on these issues, but they’re all wider than they used to be.”

So, one of the things we also want to look at is the division among the people’s representatives here in Washington — members of Congress, the House, members of the Senate. What do you see? I know you’ve looked at that, as well.

Jocelyn Kiley, Pew Research Center: “So, the same dynamic is apparent in the public as in Congress. And, in fact, I think it’s even more pronounced among elected officials.

So, if you go back 30 years ago or so, there were a sizable share of Democrats in Congress who were more conservative than the most liberal Republican and vice versa, a sizable share of Republicans who were more liberal than the most conservative Democrat. That hasn’t been the case for 20 years.”

This is what political scientists refer to as “partisan sorting” — conservatives moving into the Republican Party, liberals becoming Democrats, and less and less overlap between them, which means that, today, the parties are more different than they used to be.

And that leads to another related trend — the degree to which people from one side not only disagree with but actively dislike the other side.

Carroll Doherty, Pew Research Center: “And you see that tripling, just about, between 1994 and 2022 on the Republican side and a huge spike on the Democratic side, as well.

And so the shares of people, who have this intense dislike for the opposing party has grown so much over the past 20 or 25 years.”

Jocelyn Kiley, Pew Research Center: “You can see in this graphic that, for instance, 72% of Republicans say that Democrats are more dishonest than other Americans, and 64% of Democrats say the same about Republicans.”

Journalist: “Carroll, it is striking. I mean, you look at the numbers. “Immoral”?”

Carroll Doherty, Pew Research Center: I know.”

Journalist: “Just in 2016, 35% of Democrats thought Republicans were immoral. Today, it’s 63. And Republicans, it’s gone from 47 to 72.”

Carroll Doherty, Pew Research Center: “It is quite striking.”

Journalist: “And, Jocelyn, from a polling point of view, from a researcher, academic point of — what’s striking about that? I mean, we’re talking less than 30 years this has happened.”

Jocelyn Kiley, Pew Research Center: “I think one way to think about this is that people have internalized partisan identity maybe in a way that we didn’t really see, say, three decades ago.

So it’s about issues, it’s about emotions, and they kind of feed on each other, meaning as you see the other party further apart on issues, you’re less likely to socialize with them, you’re less likely to have them in your friend groups, and, therefore, maybe you’re a little bit more likely to have negative stereotypes about them.”

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Woman, at Round Table: “Now, it’s just like you just have to choose a side and you automatically have to hate the other side, when it shouldn’t be that way. And it wasn’t that way.”

That feeling of division, even among close friends and family members, was apparent in both Republican and Democratic focus groups I sat in on over the summer.

Man, Round table: “I’m waiting for someone in Congress to throw a chair at someone, like they do in other countries.”

Woman, 2: “My closest inner circle is mostly like-minded. They vote Republican or pretty conservative. But outside of that, I try to avoid conversations because they’re just never productive. No one’s changed anyone’s mind.”

Man, 2: “I mean, it almost feels a little bit like a civil war.”

Man, 3: “The relative that I have an issue with who I think is Republican is my son. And the only thing that I can say or say to him is, “How did you get that way?”

What we heard in those focus groups and from the Pew researchers speaks to the way that politics has merged with our personal identities. So what changed? How did our politics and identity merge in this way?

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Lilliana Mason, Political Scientist: “Well, decades ago, we disagreed over things like the role of government or the size of government or what we wanted the government to be doing, and with those types of divisions, we can find a compromise.”

Political scientist Lilliana Mason has been working to answer that very question.

Lilliana Mason, Political Scientist: “What we’re seeing today is, the divide is much more about our feelings about each other. We are angry at one another. Democrats and Republicans don’t trust one another. And these types of feelings are not the kind of thing we can compromise with.

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Politics, Government. Americans are very united. The United States is a very united country. Is this entirely true, mostly true, yes-and-no, in the middle, it depends, largely false or completely false?

Left, Left-Wing, Liberal. Has US society and politics always been this divisive, or has it changed over the years and decades?

Right, Right-Wing, Conservative. Have disagreements and divisions always been peaceful and amicable?

Moderate, Centralist. Judy Woodruff, the journalist, only reported from Washing DC. Is this correct or incorrect?

Federal, State, Local. What have been two major social and political trends in the US over the past three decades?

Vote, Elect. How do Democrats and Republicans view each other?

Candidate. What were the main political issues and concerns thirty years ago versus today?

Partisan, Bipartisan, Non-Partisan. What were four major watershed moments in US history, ie in the 1950s and 1960s; the 1970s and 1980s; the 1990s and 2000s? How have these affected US society and politics?
Radical, Reactionary. What is your nations views on the Untied States and US government, politics, society, ideals and values?

Populism, Demagoguery. Is the social and political landscape of nation identical, similar, different or very different from that of the US?

Lobby, Campaign Contribution. What might happen in the future?

Protest, Demonstration. Describe your ideal society, government, and mindset?

Revolt, Coup, Civil War. What could or should people, schools, governments, businesses, big tech and people do?


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