The risks of partisanship.
The State of the Union last week was nominally divided along parties lines even while the President "attempted" to project a voice of unity in his speech. However, it quickly became clear that the issues of immigration and border security are dominating the divisions in the current U.S. government. However, over the past decades, it seems to be a common trend that the minority party not applaud or agree with the sitting President at the State of the Union. At a gathering that is supposed to project a strong Union of states, we see division seeping in.
Now, this is not to stroke fears of a civil war as there are many reasons this sort of division does not lend to that result: current state loyalty, divides are not regionally based, political violence. However, while politically based violence is on the rise in the U.S., it has not seeped into the mainstream and has been mostly between those with extreme views. Also, the peaceful midterm elections in 2018 have shown that the people's answers to these issues remain to handled in a democratic fashion.
Overall, partisanship is on the rise and the State of the Union only illustrates that. The State of Our Union is still strong; but, if it is to remain that way, common ground and compromise must be found. This is not to extrapolate unnecessary concerns about the state of the unity of the country; rather, to point towards the dire situation of the partisanship within the nation. Worryingly, this two party division has extended to state and even local governments with the example of New York and Louisiana passing different laws on abortion to much controversy.
The roots of this partisanship are ultimately harder to pinpoint as the recent Global Financial Crisis with the following recession and the 9/11 Terrorist attacks are all besetting preconditions. However, the triggering factor polarizing politics in the U.S. appears to be the events of the 2016 election. Between unprecedented Russian election interference and the constant attacks on the press, the post 2016 political environment has seen a lot of negative polarizing change. It is unclear on how to return our politics to a state of unity befitting our union; however, eliminating stigma surrounding those with different political views is a good place to start.