Andrew Garner



Over the last quarter of a century, politics in the United States of America have taken a disproportionate turn for the extreme. Many causes are to blame for this trend, including electoral incentives for polarized political rhetoric from candidates and a highly efficient and newly diversified media environment. The result of the trend toward political polarization thus far is that legislatures in the United States have gone from semi-productive bodies in which legislators collaborated and conceded to unfruitful gatherings in which ideologues fail to accomplish much of anything for American citizens. However, this consequence is less dire than the fact that American citizens are now more divided on politics than ever before, and that many Americans tend to sort geographically based on these divisions and pursue media that validates their perspective on such divisions. This paper will argue that political polarization and its subsequent effects on American culture are potential precursors to increased political violence in the United States. This paper will substantiate this argument through critical analysis of political events and through a review of relevant research on both political polarization and political violence. This paper will also provide an overview of the issue of polarization in American politics and its root causes as a means of providing context to the argument that such polarization is an indicator of future political violence, and will conclude with possible solutions for mitigating or reversing the trend of polarization in American politics.


Political Science

Publication Date

Spring 2016