The Big Sort Review

Topics: Election, Thought, Elections Pages: 3 (864 words) Published: May 5, 2010
The Big Sort
As the world becomes more globalized, we see a trend in the demographics of citizens in different communities. People have been shown to group together with other like minded individuals, because of this, we see the emergence of places such as Utah or Southlake. Bill Bishops, The Big Sort claims, the more diverse America becomes, the more homogeneous it becomes. Americans are increasingly unlikely to find themselves in mixed company: Liberals avoid conservatives, and vice versa; Atheists and evangelicals, the rich and poor, who have always been segregated, but even more so now.

Bishop explains that for the last 3 decades, people have been “sorting themselves into ideological homogeneous communities,” this in turn effects the economy and politics of the area, resulting in sharp divisions among citizens, which mirror the polarization of legislative bodies. When people form groups with others who think alike, look alike and share the same opinions, social psychologists can predict that they will become more extreme in their thinking.

This was a self perpetuating, self reinforcing social division where like minded neighborhoods supported like minded churches. Bishop observed this in his Austin neighborhood, where there were virtually no Republicans. While in a community of similar size nearby had very few democrats. Through examining the presidential elections, Bishop found that more than half of the voters today live in communities where presidential elections are preordained. He found that in 1976, less than a quarter of American people lived in “landslide counties.” These are counties which the spread between the two presidential candidates was 20 percentage points or more. This point stood out to me because Tarrant county was the second largest republican county in the country before 2008 elections, but it was almost a democratic country in the presidential election. I thought Bishops discussion on “landslide counties” was a...
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