The U.S. Has Never Felt This Divided. History Suggests Otherwise.

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Trump-Pence and Biden-Harris signs are displayed outside The Coral Gables Branch Library in Miami, Florida on October 27, 2020.  ((Photo by CHANDAN KHANNA / AFCHANDAN KHANNA/AFP via Getty Images))

As Americans draw political battle lines over everything from mask-wearing to immigration policy to post-election ballot-counting, it can feel as if the nation’s never been so ideologically divided. But historians say that Americans have always been deeply split on major policy issues -- it’s just that those splits haven’t fallen along partisan lines as sharply as they do today. We’ll look at past instances of U.S. electoral and political strife to help understand and address today’s disunity.


Julia Azari, associate professor of political science, Marquette University; contributor, FiveThirtyEight.

Julian Zelizer, professor of history and public affairs, Princeton University; political analyst, CNN